Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Celebration of a Top Ten CNN Hero

by Tom Golden

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services

As a Certified VFMC Provider member of the Veterans & Family Memorial Care™ nationwide network of funeral homes, we honor Top 10 CNN hero Dale Beatty, a disabled vet who is helping other vets. 

Photo From CNN Top Ten Heros
Dale was on active duty in Iraq as a  National Guardsman, when the Humvee that he was in was hit by an anti-tank mine, flying 50 feet into the air, and landing on Dale's legs, pinning him under the wreckage. He lived to survive, as a double amputee. 

Dale rebounded with an attitude of gratitude knowing that many more soldiers had worse injuries or had lost their lives.

"For some reason, I've always been able to see how lucky I am," he reflected, noting that his injuries made it possible to wear prosthetic legs. "It's not like losing a fingernail. But ... it's just the way it has to be. I've met people that have been hurt a lot worse than me that have lived full, fulfilling lives. So there's no excuse for me not to."

When the local community helped him to build a home, he decided to help other vets. He and another disabled vet Jim Gallina, pooled their disability benefits and formed Purple Heart Homes, a non-profit organization that  has helped other disabled vets with housing.

In 2013, he was selected by CNN as a top ten hero. We celebrate his life and purpose and hope that every disabled vet has the opportunity to rebuild their life.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do Five Stages of Grief Exist?

by Tom Golden

Grief is a reality for everyone who loses a loved one.

However, that reality is different for everyone, even with some of the standard similarities. Even the standard similar experiences are being questioned, such as the five stages of grief.

It is still a popular notion that grieving occurs in five stages. This was the theory promoted 50 years ago by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book "On Death and Dying". The five stages are denail, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Do we really need to go through five? Is the grieving period the same for everyone? What are some of the latest research results and experiences of those who have lost loved ones?

Over time and especially recently, researchers have concluded that these "stages" may not exist at all, or be very different for those losing a loved one. Many have bounced back and been proactive in restarting a new life, sometimes within six months, according to a study in 2002 that showed that 50% of widowers had this experience.  

When her husband died of cancer 10 years ago, Becky Aikman says she experienced grief and adapted to her loss—but not in the way some people seemed to expect. About a year after his death, when Ms. Aikman felt it was time to start rebuilding her life, she attended a widows support group meeting. She arrived and found a tissue box on each chair, she recalls. The group leader talked about the five stages of grief, each woman described her husband's death and everyone cried.
Afterward, Ms. Aikman spoke to the leader and, pointing out that the group was called "Moving Forward After Loss," she asked, "Couldn't we focus on the future or moving on?" He told her he didn't think she fit in and asked her not to return.
"There is an expectation that a proper widow maintains this cliché of Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow," says Ms. Aikman, now 58 and living in Brooklyn, N.Y. "She doesn't go out, doesn't laugh, doesn't date. The idea is that you have to do a penance almost, for years."  (Wall Street Journal )

See Becky speak out on this excellent video. If you are recently widowed, we wish you a safe passage on your journey and hope that this video will help.  Click on this link to view the video.

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services provides a full range of pre-planning, funeral packages, cremation packages, cremation urns, free online obituaries and counseling on final arrangements for a loved one.  

605 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503.364.2257
Fax: 503.364.2897

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ten Tips in Choosing a Casket for Your Loved One

by Tom Golden

For those who have a preference for an open casket viewing at a service, a final resting place for a loved one, or all of the above, choosing a casket can be a difficult decision. Here's some tips to help you in your time of loss.

1) Which family member is taking care of the arrangements? If it is their decision to choose a casket, a preliminary review with key family members can be helpful so that all can agree or have a chance to see the options selected.

2) If you are on a tight budget, ask the funeral director to see choices based on a dollar limit, and then look at a few selections just above and below that limit to see more options.

3) Ask your funeral director about all of the preferences that are available, such as eco-friendly, color, material, exterior design, interior materials and design, manufacturer.

4) Think of the preferences of your loved one. If they had a certain favorite color, or a favorite hobby that could be included in the casket theme, then this is another approach that some families will use.

5) Signed caskets. Some services are arranged so that guests can sign the casket of your loved one. Writing a farewell on a casket is a personalized experience for your family and friends and if this is a preference then consider the color of the casket as being compatible for a dark marker so that the writing can be seen.

6) Interior – if there are different options for the interior, choose one that meets your preferences.
7) Prepaid arrangements. If your loved one had prepaid funeral arrangements in place they may have already made a casket selection. Look for any paperwork that may indicate that a casket was prepaid by the deceased and remember to take it with you to the appointment with the funeral company. 

8) Eco-friendly – some caskets are designed to be biodegradable. Consider if this is an option that you would be interested in.

9) Consider the whole package of services and arrangements if you are on a budget, and choose a casket that fits within the costs of the whole package.

10) Take time to consider your options. It can be difficult to make such an important decision on a moment’s notice, so ask for any brochures or literature that is available. Review it with other family members to make a final decision together. Although funeral arrangements are usually made in a short amount of time, it is important to take the time necessary to make a decision that you are content with.

Choosing a casket can be difficult when you are feeling emotional and it is not unimportant to consider your budget and what your loved one would have liked. Many people put far too much stress on themselves in this situation, so it is a good idea to make this decision as a group. This way you do not feel too pressured to decide on something that you are unsure about. The casket is not designed to last forever, but it will serve the purposes of your plans such as an open casket wake, or a burial service at a grave site.

Monday, January 6, 2014

We Care About Family Caregivers

by Tom Golden
Virgil T. Golden Funeral Services

Family caregivers are becoming much more common these days and we know of many who are constantly faced with the daily challenges of both expected and unexpected care needs of a loved one.

That is why we post a number of caregiver items on our blog. Although we specialize in final arrangements, celebration of life, cremations, and funeral services, we also receive calls from caregivers asking about our pre-planning programs and questions that pertain to our services  before the services are needed.

For all of you family caregivers who may be reading this, we wish you and your loved ones a happy new year, and hope that the challenges of care giving may be easier or not as demanding this coming year.

Here are some stories that may give you some ideas and tips in your own family. Caregiver Magazine recently published the ten winners of the Fearless Caregiver story contest.  Here's the winners, with an a few excerpts from their stories:

  1. "It Takes a Village..."
    By: Jean Cannon

  2. Homeless in the Health System -
    I am a fierce caregiver because I…
    • Informed myself with knowledge to distill good from bad in making the right decisions for my father;
    • Had confidence to make tough decisions. I had refused surgeries, medications, treatments, and hospital admissions when I knew it was not appropriate for my father;
    • Persisted to work through caring for my father, even when things seemed too difficult to bear;
    • Stayed optimistic when everyone around us was pessimistic;
    • Spoke up and advocated for my father.
    There were many times when the care demands were so overwhelming that no matter how much of myself I gave, I never felt successful. I am a fierce caregiver to my dear father, because he and my mother were for me as their child."
    By: Marian Adly
  3. Called to Care
    By: Jessica Daly

  4. Comes a Time
    By: Marjorie L. Faes

  5. Don't Mess With Us - We're Fighting MSA
    By: Candice
    "That day, I went from caregiver to fearless caregiver. I called everywhere until we found a neurologist who was experienced in MSA and willing to fight for my mother. This new doctor confirmed that not only was she NOT in need of hospice; there were new medications and treatments to try! Best of all, his bedside manner was uplifting and motivational. He became my mother's cheerleader and support."

  6. Determined Wife
    By: Christina Garner

  7. A Fearless Caregiver's Story
    By: Myrna B. Lambert

  8. The "A" Word
    By: Howard Loonan
    "It was the winter of 2009 and my 92-year-old father, who was mentally and physically healthy till the day he died, had passed away a year earlier.  My mother was starting to "lose her mind."  I thought that she had become temporarily senile from the pain she had endured from losing her other half, the half she had by her side for over 70 years.  But then I started finding pieces of this puzzle that made me realize that she had been on the road to dementia for a long time, and my father had been unintentionally masking her disease from others for years.  The most telling sign I found was an old note pad written with my father's handwriting.  He had been keeping a log of all the books that my mother had read.  You see, my mother loved to read novels, but apparently she would read the same ones over and over again without realizing. My father started keeping this list of all the books she had completed so she wouldn't forget."

  9. Standing Up to Family
    By: Cindy Wolke
  10. Surrounded by Turkeys
    By: Benjamin Sharit

    posted by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Services
    Salem, OR

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

During the Holidays: A Death Certificate in Acapulco

by David Brown
guest blogger

During the holidays our family had planned a reunion in Mexico during Thanksgiving. It was1986, and we had planned it  far in advance. We had a large villa on the hillside overlooking the bay.
Rather than cancel, my father was determined to go, even with advanced stages of cancer, an oxygen tank, and wheelchair. After being there for two days, we had to have an ambulance come and take him to the hospital in the middle of the night. He passed later that morning about 10am.

During the shock of the loss and our plans to stay for Thanksgiving Day, which was the next day, we had to scramble to get a death certificate and arrange a cremation before our departure date. Fortunately, my uncle spoke fluent Spanish and made all of the arrangements. I carried his ashes back in an urn on the plane.

Arranging for a death certificate may not be quite as challenging as being in Mexico. However, it is always challenging during the sudden, or expected loss of a loved one. Suddenly there are many things to
have to be done and a death certificate is one of the first things that is done and required for a number of other things that are needed such
 as life insurance, stocks, bonds and in the sale of real property. The current charge by the State of Oregon is $20 for the first copy and $ 15 for each additional copy. 
There are certain rules and regulations regarding death certificates. A website where death certificates can be easily ordered is
One ruling that becomes effective on January 1 2014 encourages the use of a “short form” death certificate. We have reproduced the notice below as an image, and suggest that
if you have legal questions that you contact an attorney.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

For Alzheimer's Caregivers:How Can the Holiday Season Be Less Stressful?

Especially for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer's, the holidays can add some extra stress on top of the demands of being a family caregiver. Everyone has the demands of the holidays cause some extra stress along with the "tis the season to be jolly". For caregivers, it may become overwhelming to the point that it is wished that the holidays will be over to get back to a manageable routine.  

Here are six tips from Today's Caregiver magazine, that may be useful for you are a caregiver.

"Six Seasonal CareTips:
  1. Try to include your loved one in some holiday preparations. Give him or her something to do that is within their abilities and that will make them feel useful. Occupying their time will help you get other things done as well.
  2. Maintain a sense of familiarity. Go easy on the decorations, and don’t move too much furniture to accommodate trees or other objects. Changing familiar surroundings can lead to confusion, especially for someone with memory or physical challenges. Extra cords, fragile decorations, and piles of gifts can be hazards to those with limited mobility.
  3. With all of the holiday hubbub, your loved one could become more confused and agitated. Try to limit the number of guests in your home at one time, and make sure that someone is always aware of the whereabouts of your loved one. If he or she tends to wander, there is a chance that this may happen when everyone thinks someone else is “on watch.”
  4. Ask for help! Don’t try to take on all of the burdens of caring for your loved one and preparing for the holidays. Something as simple as asking a neighbor or other relative to stay with your loved one for a few hours while you get some shopping done can make all the difference between a calm and a stressed-out holiday.
  5. Visit the newly enhanced Alzheimer’s Channel on to learn from articles such as “Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s” and “Holiday Gift Ideas.”
  6. Most importantly, take time for yourself. Spend an hour in a bubble bath, read a book, play in the snow. Do something that you enjoy, and have fun. The holidays are about fun and enjoyment, so make sure that you have some of both."

We wish you and your loved ones a joyful, peaceful, and stress free holiday season.

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why We are Experts on Cremation Urns

In this difficult time, making choices about final arrangements can be challenging. That is why we focus on a free telephone consultation that helps you with every step along the way. Here’s an example of what you might hear from one of our funeral directors if you asked us about cremation urns.

You have many choices when considering the final disposition of the cremated remains. The cremation urn for your loved one should serve as an enduring symbol of their wonderful life.

We have a unique selection of worthy vessels including cremation jewelry and cremation keepsakes so that you and your family can keep your loved one’s  memory close to heart. 

Every family member can receive a lasting remembrance that will provide inspiration, balance, tranquility and love.

There are also many urns that are suitable for permanent placement in a cemetery setting. Having a permanent place such as a cemetery, mausoleum, or cremation garden that can be visited regularly by family and friends becomes a focal point of remembrance. 

The memories of  your loved one  will live on in your hearts and minds and a cremation urn should symbolize the treasure that those memories represent. That's why we've assembled a wide variety of cremation urns that are inspirational. They capture a person's individuality and personality while honoring a life that has been loved and lost.

We offer urns that represent many different themes and hobbies, as well as works of art that can be displayed and enjoyed for generations. There is a diverse selection to help you capture the inspiration of a wonderful life.

We also offer eco-friendly, biodegradable urns including those that gently dissolve in water and allow you to easily transport the cremated remains to your desired location.

Please let us know if you have any questions as you browse through our urns on our web site.
Distinctive Bronze Urns - Wood Urns - Scattering Tubes - Earth Friendly Urns - Marble Urns

V.T. Golden Funeral Services and Oakleaf Crematory, Salem, Oregon 97301
Funeral Services - Cremations - Celebration of Life