Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Shopping Cart Find an NFDA Funeral Home Arrow Right


You are here: Home / Blog

Remembering A Life Blog


Stories and inspiration to help you keep the memories of your loved ones alive

Creating an Essence Tree

Symbolically, trees represent our growth and development through life. Roots are our foundation, the trunk our source of strength and power. Limbs represent our talents and abilities. And leaves are the many manifestations of our gifts, the results of flowering or producing in the world. The enduring beauty and stillness of trees invite us to absorb their essence so that we can gain understanding of who we are. Several years ago I developed an art workshop called “Creating an Essence Tree” based on tree symbolism. I have reconfigured the original self-exploration-based workshop as a grief support activity. As a grief support activity, the essence of your relationship with your loved one and the essential elements of your loss experience – emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, change in circumstances and more - can find visual voice in the making of an essence tree.  Your tree can be depicted realistically, metaphorically or symbolically, and the meaning conveyed as marks, lines, shapes, colors textures or images on any part of your art creation: background, roots, trunk, limbs or leaves.

Surviving Suicide Stigma

One of the greatest challenges to surviving a suicide death loss and moving forward in one’s grief is the prevalent and damaging stigma that continues to be associated with this cause of death. This stigma is complicated by public misunderstanding of suicide, long-held myths about suicide, and the problematic language used to talk about suicide and the deceased. Moving forward with a suicide death loss is one of the most difficult experiences we may face in our lives, but if we can begin to unpack and understand the roots of the stigma that clings to suicide in our culture, we may become more empowered to challenge them and attain some healing in our personal bereavement.

Surviving Suicide Loss

In 2018, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That statistic alone is troubling, but suicide is also the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-34, and the fourth leading cause of death for those ages 35-54. While we do not yet have a complete picture of the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide deaths, experts agree that the many stressors and complications to physical safety, social interaction, financial status, and mental wellbeing may well culminate in an even greater rise in suicide deaths than we’ve seen over the last decade. While the prevalence of suicide in our culture is in itself tragic, the grief of losing a loved one to suicide is often overwhelmingly isolating and, literally, unspeakable. After the death of a loved one to suicide, we may feel untethered from our understanding of the world, encased in shock that weighs on us like a block of ice, only to reach out for support that we may not receive.

Helping Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season

Holidays are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of someone loved. Rather than being times of family togetherness, sharing, and thanksgiving, holidays can bring feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness. Dr. Alan Wolfelt offers suggestions to help you better cope with your grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year. Remember that by being tolerant and compassionate with yourself, you will continue to heal.

It's Time to Build Your Self Care Routine

Self-care. It’s become a buzzworthy term throughout social media over the last few years. You know this, too, from the hundreds of thousands of Instagram accounts and bloggers who promote it, as well as articles across all media underscoring its importance. It feels like wherever you turn these days there’s a mandate to Sleep! Hydrate! Breathe! Exercise! Ohm! I don’t know about you, but for me these blaring reminders can sometimes become stressful and overwhelming, because I feel like I’m supposed to do all of these things, all the time. And of course, those feelings result in the complete opposite of self-care.

Waking Up to Gratitude

Before COVID-19 changed all of our lives, my busy travel and teaching schedule had me hopping. Most mornings after I woke up, I went straight to work. I had a love-hate relationship with the adrenaline of stress. I was a slave to emails, itineraries, deadlines, and flight schedules. Now I’m in limbo. With most of my presentations postponed or canceled, I’m home. I have time to linger over my morning cup of coffee. I have time to breathe and to think. I have time to marvel at the sunrise.

From Hospice Nurse to Life Doula

Our positive death movement has brought many changes to our culture’s views on death, dying, funerals, and beyond. The spirit of the movement has allowed many compassionate and deeply spiritual caregivers to become recognized as Life Doulas, Death Doulas, End of Life Doulas, and Soul Midwives while providing the support that our previous generations instinctively offered to aging and dying family members.

On the day of the morning my sister Paula died, my mother, sister Anita and I went out for ice cream. We had been at Paula’s deathbed for a week, had barely slept, and were exhausted. When it came time for dinner we opted for our family’s comfort cure - ice cream - in lieu of other food: turtle sundaes with lots of whipped cream and a cherry on top. Now every year on Paula’s death anniversary and birthday, I have ice cream in her honor and in remembrance. This ritual - among others - feels right given my relationship with Paula and our family tradition.

Purposefully acknowledging a loved one’s death anniversary can be a proactive way to balance a sense of loss over their death with a celebration of their life, and a celebration of the life shared with them. Your relationship with the deceased, what is comfortable and meaningful to you, timing (how long ago did your loved one die? day of the week, time of year), the wishes of other family members, and religion and culture all can play a role in how a death anniversary is observed.

Faith & Grief (Part 3): The Why’s of Grief

Why is grief so hard?  Each grief is different, but a particular question often occurs in some form as one confronts the loss of a loved one -Why did this happen?  Why him or her?  Why me? Why now?  Why in that way?  It may be momentary, but more often, such questions persist far too long, often hidden in the recesses of the mind.  Their continuing pulse can disrupt one’s work through grief and leave a person in a ‘stuck’ place.  A previously secure faith and the balm it could provide seem blocked and prayer seems empty.  Why is often a faith question.