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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Music for Funeral Services and Celebration of Life

by David Brown
guest blogger

Music selected in remembrance of a loved one can include a wide range of choices. Music can be a source of healing in a time of need and loss. The titles or words of a song may have special significance, and can be referenced in a program or handout for the service. Songs and music may different in a standard service compared to a celebration of life service. 

Standard Funeral Service
In a regular service, the mood is more somber, and reflective, and while the music does not need to match that mood exactly, it may be more subdued than in a celebration of life service. 

A few examples for a regular service could be Amazing Grace, Ave Maria, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, or Bach's slower and more reflective music.Instrumental music can also be used as background music when words are spoken such as a eulogy. The Beatles songs Imagine and In My Life may also be possible choices of songs that have special meaning. Music may be played from speakers, or performed live, or a combination. There are some links below for ideas for funeral songs.

Celebration of Life

In a celebration of life service usually the mood is less somber and solemn, and the music can reflect that also. One example is a slide show of memories, with favorite songs of the loved one playing throughout. 

Other choices may include songs that truly celebrate life, creating a mood a celebration of good memories and thoughts of the loved one. 

This is an actual example of a creative use of music. My former father in law was an active alumni of University of California Berkeley and a cheerleader when he had been a student. He had special plans for how he wanted his celebration of life service to be - one big party. The university set aside a large area and over 300 people attended. During the service the UC Berkeley band marched in playing cheerleading songs. Some of the football players also showed up. It was just how he had planned - one big party with some surprises in the music category.  

Here are two resources of websites that offer their own lists of popular songs for funeral services and celebrations of life. Google has a lot more than two !

Research from one of the largest funeral homes in Great Britain, is based on over 30,000 funerals and charts the tunes of choice being played at services to celebrate and remember the lives of loved ones.
 View the top 75 - Frank Sinatra is in the top five  >

Top 40 Good Funeral Songs - also based on a survey of funeral directorsView top 40 list > 

Lyrics from songs can also be quoted in the service program, or in the obituary. Favorite songwriters and musicians photos or concert posters can also be included in a celebration of life service. 

Music is a powerful way to share and celebrate  memories of a loved one, and can create the mood and atmosphere that you want.    


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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