Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando Grieving and Children’s Grief Support

by David Brown
guest blogger

A Grief Support Program by Sesame Street
As the entire country grieves the tragedies in Orlando, from the nightclub massacre to the child taken by an alligator, to a pop singer’s death, we all grieve in different ways for the atrocious acts of violence that seem to be increasing in our country at this time.

One area of grieving that is a specialized niche is the support for a child’s grieving. Children need grief support just as much or more than adults. Yet, where can we get this type of support? There are not that many groups that are available for children’s grief support.

Here are some local and national resources for this type of support and help.

The Sharing Place
In 1993 a determined young nurse and widow, Chris Chytraus, sought help for her two young children after the death of their father. She discovered a lack of resources in the Salt Lake City area and with the help and expertise of her children's therapist, Nancy Reiser they founded The Sharing Place. Chris not only helped her own children deal with their grief, but she has made a difference in the lives of many thousands who have walked through the door, called on the phone, or made use of grief support information from our website.
Although physically located in Utah, The Sharing Place was recently featured on television because of their focus and unique support for grieving children. They have a link on their site to the Doughy Center, a national grief support organization that supports local groups. -

The Doughy Center
The Dougy Center was founded in 1982 by Beverly Chappell in tribute to Dougy Turno, a young boy who died of an inoperable brain tumor at age 13. Before meeting Dougy, Bev was a registered nurse who had worked in the area of death and dying since 1974. Through her work, she found most people were uncomfortable when faced with death and grief and that doctors, clergy, hospital staff, and school personnel often did not have the training to support children in their grief. This reality inspired Bev to attend the first of many seminars and lectures by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, pioneer and author in the field of death and dying.
Willamette Valley Hospice
For Salem, the Willamette Valley Hospice is the one listed.
They have a Mother Oak’s Child Center for Grieving Children
Each summer their annual Camp Mighty Oaks provides an experience that supports children (5 years and older) and families who are grieving the death of a loved one.

published by Virgil T Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bagpipes - A Celebration of Life Idea That Works

by David Brown, guest blogger

Why Bagpipes?

Elise MacGregor Ferrell, Bagpiper
Bagpipes have been used for funerals and cremation scatterings for generations. Although the Scottish Highland Bagpipes have had the most attention by many, bagpipes have been a traditional ceremonial enhancement  played for centuries throughout large parts of Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, around the Persian Gulf, Northern Africa, and North America.

At a recent cremains scattering in the San Francisco Bay, 15 family members gathered for a memorial on the water that included a Bagpiper that I hired as an idea after the reservations were made. The bagpiper was a woman in full traditional dress with the kilt and played when we were boarding the boat. Two "sad songs" were played after some discussion. During the scattering following a prayer where we all held hands in a circle, Amazing Grace was played and sounded so perfect for the occasion. 

After the scattering other songs were played as we circled the area where the ashes were dropped near the Golden Gate bridge, and the flowers that were also dropped there seemed to form a circle. 

The experience of saying goodbye to a loved one with family members was enhanced dramatically with the bagpipes. It was a sendoff that had some relevance since there is Scottish on my grandmother's side, and my mother, whose ashes were scattered, would have been smiling if she was watching the event. She had seen a bagpiper playing on a golf course in Pebble Beach some years before and loved the sound. The bagpiper that we hired lived in Santa Cruz and knows the bagpiper that plays at Pebble Beach. There was a lot of serendipity that happened surrounding the event.

Live music can greatly enhance the memorial experience of friends and family. Whether it is a formal service, or a scattering on a body of water. Bagpipes in particular seem to have a unique and magical sound that fits the occasion. You don't have to have a Scottish heritage to enjoy it. 

Locally here in the Salem area, Virgil T Golden Funeral Services has contacts with any type of  musician the family would like. They have had bagpipers and know of several in the area to  contact if needed.  As far as scattering, there is Tradewinds out of Depoe Bay who will do it and they do have a tribute on Memorial Day as well.  Around Salem, families have scattered in the Cascades, local streams and of course at the beach.  

Pictured is Elise
MacGregor Ferrell, the bagpiper hired in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Visit the Celebration of Life page on the VT Golden website for more information.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hospice: Compassionate End of Life Care

The Silent Beauty of Crater Lake Reminds Me of the Peace of the Soul 
by David Brown, guest blogger

Many know about hospice to some degree or another. Many have used hospice services with their loved ones. In March 2016, I experienced how amazing hospice can be for the first time in my life.
Hearing about them and seeing what they can do with your own loved one and family during an end of life period of time are two completely different things. They have mastered all the things needed during end of life care.

"Hospice care is a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patients pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. In Western society, the concept of hospice has been evolving in Europe since the 11th century. Then, and for centuries thereafter in Roman Catholic tradition, hospices were places of hospitality for the sick, wounded, or dying, as well as those for travelers and pilgrims. The modern concept of hospice includes palliative care for the incurably ill given in such institutions as hospitals or nursing homes, but also care provided to those who would rather spend their last months and days of life in their own homes." - Wikipedia

In my case my mother, age 91, had lost some weight and was turning a bit yellow, so the administrator at her senior living residence advised her that she should see a doctor. It turned out that she had evidence of pancreatic cancer from an MRI screening.

This was only three weeks before she passed away.

During the days leading up to these final moments hospice was prescribed by a doctor when she was scheduled to have a biopsy that was cancelled at the last minute due to a do-not-resuscitate legal document. My mother was overjoyed that she could now finally move on, and was praying privately that it would happen fast.

We also had hoped that if something ever happened, that it would be fast and she would not have to suffer.

Hospice immediately put her on morphine for pain, provided protocols for the senior living residential care with medications, and also was very comforting to our family that was experiencing the beginning of the end-of-life moments. They told us what to expect, approximate days, and kept us informed about every step of the end-of-life journey.

During the final moments Karen, who had worked for hospice care for seven years, said she had never seen anything quite like what happened with my mother. Coming out of a deep sleep and right before she passed, my mother regained some awareness to be able to respond (non-verbally) to what my sister and I were saying, about family members who had passed over, our gratitude for her, and other words of encouragement and love.

Hospice proved to be an invaluable service for my mother and our family, and they are non-profit, funded by donations, Medicare, and government grants.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What to Do After a Loved One Dies

The death of a spouse, parent, child or other close relative is an extremely difficult time, and you're asked to make important financial decisions. This checklist highlights important steps to take in the year following the death of a loved one.

Immediate Considerations

•Provide information for the death certificate and newspaper obituary.

•Look for your loved one's letter of instructions indicating funeral wishes, contacts and the location of

•Locate a copy of your loved one's will or living trust.

The First Month
•Contact an attorney who specializes in probate to explain your loved one's will, file it with the probate court and outline tax implications.

•Contact your loved one's employer and all former employers for potential group life insurance, pension and other benefits.

•Change your medical, dental and other benefits, if appropriate.

•Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for possible survivor benefits.

•If you are the spouse of the deceased, open a checking account in your name if you do not already have one.

•Contact life and health insurance companies for possible benefits.

•Review your taxes with an attorney or a certified public accountant.

•Discuss transferring assets into your name or a trust account.

 After the First Month
•Establish a budget.

•Establish an emergency fund.

•Change the billing name to your own name on joint credit cards.

•Re-title jointly owned real estate or other property.

•Change vehicle titles to your name, if jointly owned.

•Seek advice from an attorney on updating your estate plan and revising trusts.

•Review old checkbooks, tax returns, bank statements and canceled checks for clues to additional
assets, benefits or obligations.

After the Third Month
•See a tax attorney or CPA about your federal, state and local income tax returns, including any estate tax returns that must be filed.

•Prepare and file all necessary tax returns.

•Review next year's personal income tax situation.

•Consider giving a gift in your loved one's memory to charity. Charitable gifts help leave a legacy and may provide tax savings. Contact Rotary's Planned Giving team at (847) 866-3100 or for more information.

After the Sixth Month
•Develop a plan for your financial future.

•Review your assets and liabilities, and consider changes such as making new investments and moving.

•Don't be pressured by investment salespeople into buying financial products you're not comfortable with. Seek guidance from loved ones and trusted advisors when making important financial decisions.

 After the First Year
•Decide where you want to live.

Source: The USAA Educational Foundation

Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service & Oakleaf Crematory
605 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97301 -
Phone: 503.364.2257 - Available 365/24/7
Fax: 503.364.2897

Friday, January 15, 2016

Can Pacemakers Be Recycled and Donated?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Similar to an organ donation, a pacemaker can be reused and donated as a procedure that we offer families for cremation or funeral services. 

With written permission we handle the process and send the pacemaker to My Heart Your Heart – a national organization that promotes the reuse of pacemakers.  .

From their website : “The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center has been conducting a series of research projects aiming to establish pacemaker and defibrillator reuse as feasible, safe, and ethical means of delivering this life saving therapy to patients with no resources. Throughout this process we have been engaged with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to obtain approval and begin a clinical trial.”

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cremation Urn Alternative : Memorial Glass

Cremation urns have reached a point where there so many choices, materials, styles, and types that we have access to view and choose which one fits just right. Bronze, keepsake, earth-friendly, unique designs, wood, are just a few types of the many urns to choose from. Our website has a large selection of cremation urns.

Another alternative to urns is Memorial Glass, where the cremains, or ashes are contained within the custom piece of glass artwork. There is also a variety of glass art that you can chose from – a few examples are as shown in the image below. These are glass orbs, pendants, touchstones, or a glass heart.

An example of the difference can be a simple vase. An urn cannot be used as a vase because of the ashes. However, a memorial glass vase can hold water, flowers, and still has the cremains contained within the glass.

Only a portion of the cremains need to be used for the memorial glass. The rest can be scattered, or used to make other memorial glass for relatives.

A lighted stand can be used to hold the orb and create a “magical glow effect” in the orb when lit.

There is a secure and detailed process in making the orbs and dispersing the cremains within the glass. We have two vendors that we use for memorial glass that increases our choices that we can offer our customers.Here are a few samples from our second vendor, who is located in Albany, Oregon.

Selecting urns and memorial glass is a very subjective process and allows for preferences in size, color, materials, and design. It is one of the many ways in which we are committed to “help you remember” your loved one.

To learn more about choices of memorial glass please contact one of our funeral directors for a free consultation. Feel free to use our Secure Contact Form on our web site.

Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service & Oakleaf Crematory, 605 Commercial St SE, Salem, OR 97301 - Phone: 503.364.2257 - Available 365/24/7  , Fax: 503.364.2897

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Veterans Benefits Include Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention

Virgil T. Golden Funeral Services has served veterans and supported soldiers on active duty as a regular part of our history in the Salem area since 1949.  On our website we have a Veterans benefits page describing benefits for families of veterans after the death has occurred, as well as various programs to support active duty soldiers.

Since September has been declared Suicide Prevention month we are publishing this blog to support information and resources available for families and veterans from the website

The banner and video below show the concept of The Power of One and how much it can make a difference in saving the lives of those who risked their lives for us. Below those is a checklist of Learning How to Recognize the Signs that a veteran needs help.

One of the most important areas of this Veterans Crisis website is Learn How to Recognize the Signs. We are reproducing the complete text here so that we can get the information out and possible help a veteran now. We are posting the link to this blog on our Facebook page (  and ask that you share it with others who may appreciate knowing this information.

Learn to Recognize the Signs

Many Veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so, but some actions can be a sign that a Veteran needs help. Veterans in crisis may show behaviors that indicate a risk of harming themselves.
Veterans who are considering suicide often show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness, such as:
  • Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
  • Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating—that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep
  • Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society, or sleeping all the time
  • Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about
  • Frequent and dramatic mood changes
  • Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame
  • Feelings of failure or decreased performance
  • Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life
  • Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation
  • Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems
Their behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively contemplating or preparing for a suicidal act through behaviors such as:
  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
  • Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Looking as though one has a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is showing any of the above warning signs, please call the Veterans Crisis Line , chat online , or send a text message today.

Virgil T. Golden Funeral Services
Salem, Oregon
24/7 Phone lines - 503-364-2257