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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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.