Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Two Different Resources for Grieving

by David Brown
guest blogger for Virgil T Golden Funeral Services

Grieving is such an important issue related to providing celebration of life and other funeral services. Here are two resources that may be of interest if you have just lost a loved one, or are considering "grieving pre-planning", where you want to began to understand the process before the loss of a loved one.

How to Deal with Grief by Sandra Ingerman

In this article, published in the Huffington Post in Feb 2012, Sandra provides a different perspective on the grieving process, describing grief as something that we deal with in everyday life, not just when we lose a loved one. Here are a few excerpts from the article, and a link to the full story.

"I was watching the news recently and heard an interesting story. There is a movement in the medical profession to label grief as a diagnosis of illness. Prozac, an antidepressant, would be prescribed for people dealing with grief.
Every change in life is some form of death which leads to an ending that can create a state of grief for us as something familiar dies. We might change jobs, move, get divorced, experience a change in how we feel as we age, a life threatening illness or the death of a loved one.
Death is not an end, rather it is a new beginning. And the experience of grief is important for our growth and evolution. Grief helps us to develop a deep inner well that we can expand from." full story >

Finding Peace and Meaning in Death and Bereavement

An Interview with Dr Lani Leary, author of No One Has to Die Alone
Lani Leary, Ph.D. specializes in work with chronically ill, dying, and bereaved clients.  She has worked for more than 25 years as a psychotherapist in private practice, as a chaplain in the intensive care unit of a hospital, and as a counselor in 8 hospices across the country.

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Healing After Loss - A Book Review

Healing from the loss of a loved one is important for everyone concerned.

There can be different stages of grief, or there may not be stages. Everyone seeks out their own ways to handle the grieving process by exploring and learning of many support services, groups, books, counseling, prayer, and those quiet moments where solitude is welcomed.

Here is a book  - Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief - available on with a description and a review from Amazon below. We hope that this may help you in your time of need.

 Tiny shafts of light in the Lorelee C.
" Healing After Loss was given to me after the sudden and unexpected death of our 14 year old son in March. The loss is so terrible and unimagined. We have struggled to go through each day without our only child, our wonderful son.

The friend who gave me the book had lost both her parents and her maternal grandparents within a 10 year span. She actually brought over her own dog-eared copy saying that I needed it now and she didn't have time to get a new one. Since then I have ordered my own as well as copies for my parents, Aunts and Uncles and friends.

This book has incredibly insight, hope, understanding and some new ideas delivered in small doses (the tiny shafts of light in the darkness). Since concentration levels are so affected during grieving, the one page entries are easy to read or skip, if you need a one that will more fit your moment. With grief, at least for me, it seems like my mood and outlook can change so much within a couple days - this book fills many needs.

Although my husband hasn't read it like I have, I will now and again give him a page to read that is particularly insightful for us at that moment and it can, however briefly, help him as well.

At first I read what ever I turned to when I opened it, then I read all the dates that were significant to me, now I am reading it like a daily diary. Last week I was talking to my friend, she has a copy, and although she listened she didn't feel she had an answer for me. Later, she called back giving me a page in the book to read - it was so completely accurate for that moment and feeling - I felt a bit of strength after reading the page.

I cannot say enough about the author and her grace, strength and ability to comfort. She wrote another very small book called "I Will Not Leave You Desolate" that I would recommend as well.

If you are purchasing this for yourself, I am so sorry for your loss - I know something of the dark, sad and surreal world that appears without the one you loved. I hope this book can be of some comfort to you as it was for me. Of course this is only one tiny shaft of light in the darkness, but I am grateful for each one. If you are getting it for a friend or family member, bless you and your efforts to be there."
Book information and Amazon review provided courtesy of :

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Leaning into Grief

by Tom Golden

Dana Greenfield: Leaning into Grief  
We process grief in different ways at different times. Here is one story of how a woman handled her grief.

Dana unfortunately lost her mother in February of 2014. She decided to use self-tracking and a custom designed tracking system to better understand her own grief and the role her mother continues to play in her life.

Dana Greenfield: Leaning into Grief from Quantified Self on Vimeo.

Send us your story about how you are handing your grief and we will be glad to share it with others here and on our Facebook page.

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

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Friday, May 23, 2014

How to Help Children with the Loss of a Loved One - Book Review

And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing
Written by Amy Rovere and Illustrated by Joel Spector

Helping children with grief can be challenging, especially when you are also grieving. Here's a book that can help. 

from Amazon: 
"Responding to the fact that coping with a parent’s death can be especially hard on young children, this beautifully written and illustrated book is a valuable resource for parents and counselors.

Ten-year-old Emily and seven-year-old Ben must deal with the loss of their mother to cancer. Guided by conversations with their father, they embark on a journey of grief and healing, each searching for a path to acceptance. Along the way, both children realize that their mother will always be with them in their hearts. And just as their mother’s flowers had bloomed in the garden, Emily and Ben emerge from the darkness of grief to bloom once more. Using nature as a backdrop for the cycles of life, this moving story emphasizes hope and healing and will connect with all readers who have lost a loved one."

Buy this book on Amazon 

Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

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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.