My husband loves to build with LEGOs.
He has a pretty impressive collection of LEGO masterpieces, as he calls them, ranging from little people consisting of just a few bricks, to a giant ship (the “Sea Cow”) consisting of 2,741 bricks.
Austin's "Sea Cow"
LEGO these days isn’t just for young kids! Adults love to build with the colorful bricks, too. Besides kits featuring fantastical creatures from movies and TV shows, there is the LEGO Architecture series, which anyone can construct fairly easily using the instructions provided. You can build the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, and the White House, just to name a few.
But you certainly don’t have to buy an expensive kit to make something amazing with LEGO. As long as you have the right bricks, and the gumption, you can design and build anything you can possibly imagine. You can personalize your LEGO experience.
Personalization is very important to today’s youth. As these generations get older, and inevitably and eventually require death care services, personalization of funerals is also going to become more and more commonplace. In fact, over the past decade, many funeral homes and corporations have already begun to advertise and encourage custom services.
Did your great aunt love to garden? Take a look through our garden-themed funeral package, complete with seed envelopes as “party” favors for guests. This will be a celebration of life!
Oh, Grandad loved to fish? We actually offer fisherman-themed caskets and matching sprays. Care to browse our selection?
Your son loved LEGO? Have you considered ordering a custom LEGO-themed casket? (seehttp://www.dailyundertaker.com/2012/03/funeral-home-facilitates-incredible.html ).
Whether a funeral or memorial service is customized or traditional, or takes place at the funeral parlor, the church, or in the home, the important thing is to remember and celebrate your loved one and the life they lived.
Including through the eulogy :)
Eulogies by Aubrey offers 100% personalized eulogies, using your words and your “voice.” If you are planning a personalized funeral or memorial service for your loved one, we are here to assist you in doing so.
Most of us have been there.
You lose someone who is very close to you, someone you cared for very much and who cared for you. You can barely make it out of bed, barely function at all the jobs you have to accomplish. The world keeps going as if nothing happened, and mercilessly insists that you still keep up. You have trouble even breathing when you realize, over and over, that you will never see this person again, at least not for a long while. Your eyes are puffy from tears that seem to never stop flowing.
Your heart feels literally heavy in your chest.
These are times when, as is often said, grief knows no words.
The irony of it is, often times the person who is closest to the one who has passed away, is the person asked to provide the eulogy for the funeral service. In most cases, a person dies, has their services and final disposition within just one week of the passing. This one left behind who has barely begun to even process what has just happened, is tasked with writing a lengthy reading to be given in front of other grieving family and friends. They are obligated to think objectively, to dig up memories featuring their loved one (probably some they haven’t thought about in years) and try to put everything into proper sequence in the hope of appropriately representing their loved one and the life they lived.
Even great writers would have trouble doing that.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Within the realm of funeral service, there are many people available and standing by to offer you any assistance you may need. The funeral director is not just a salesperson… he or she is a counselor. The pastor is not just repeating tired old verses and prayers…they have been there. The funeral home apprentice…well, she doesn’t have all the answers yet, but she sure knows who to ask to get them for you :)
Eulogies by Aubrey is one of those who is standing by 24/7 to offer you support should you ever need it. We too have been there, and when your grief knows no words, we will be right here to create your words for you.
“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.” -Claudia Adrienne Grandi
Think about the last time you went to a funeral or memorial service. The first thing you may have noticed when you walked through the doors of the church or parlor was the abundance of floral arrangements. Lilies, roses, orchids, and gladiolus are only a few of the most popular, and most fragrant, blooms to be sent in memory of the dearly departed. You’ll find these beautiful, colorful blossoms adorning every table, corner and boutonniere right up to the casket, urn or memory table.
Sending flowers is such a popular practice even in modern funeral services, that funeral homes still have a special flower room just for receiving baskets and sprays. Often, when a death has just occurred, the undertaker who picks up the body will also leave a rose or carnation in the bed or with the next of kin as a token of respect.
Why do we send flowers to funerals or the homes of a family or friend who has just lost a loved one? It may seem like a no-brainer…flowers are, after all, an age-old way to show that you are thinking of someone. They are bright and beautiful, and serve to remind us that life goes on even when we are surrounded by darkness and grief. They smell lovely, giving us a little lift in our spirits just when we need it the most.
While it’s true that in times gone by fragrant blooms were used for more practical reasons, mainly to cover up the stench of decomposition, today that is simply not the case. Flowers are not needed for this purpose anymore, especially in cases of embalming, cremation, or even just refrigeration. These days they serve as symbols of reverence and comfort for the family.
Of course, flowers are not only for funerals! They can be offered as a romantic gesture, as a birthday gift, in celebration of a birth, or even as a sign of friendship. What is your favorite flower? Let us know in a comment below!
When someone we love very much dies (or when we have suffered a great loss or stress of any kind), our minds automatically search for a way to cope. Subconsciously or not, as a way to cope with the grief we are feeling, we may revert to some simple comforts of our childhoods. We may watch an old movie we haven’t seen in awhile, flip through some photo albums, or listen to a familiar song that has never failed to calm us down. We may take very long bubble baths or take very long naps. We may even sleep with an old stuffed animal for a few days, if that makes us feel better, and that is totally fine. That tattered old stuffed animal may very well be a Winnie-the-Pooh (wow, smooth bridge there!)
Originally debuted in 1924 by English author A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh is a lovable storybook teddy bear from almost all of our childhood memories. A creature of classic tale and also of timeless wit, Pooh has captured the imaginations of artists, writers, philosophers, and children alike the world over. Besides in kids’ picture books and TV series, he can be found in publications and media geared toward adults, including Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh, John Tyerman Williams’ Pooh and the Philosophers, and most recently Disney’s live-action adaptation Christopher Robin.
Children sense a natural kinship with the winsome bear, whose gentle humor and whimsical adventures through the Hundred Acre Wood easily capture their attentions. But Winnie-the-Pooh’s attitude of mindfulness is also one to be desired by grownups, who strive daily to catch a glimpse of his innocent, restful existence in our own often chaotic worlds. Grownups pray, we meditate, we cry, we sleep, but Pooh just is (his go-with-the-flow attitude is in contrast to that of his friend Eeyore, who possesses a more dysthymic melancholy but who is nonetheless accepted just as he is). Much like a child, Pooh is generally content with his life no matter if he feels happy or bothered; he is content in his everlasting state of doing nothing, which he finds joy in:
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” -Pooh
Doing Nothing sounds extremely attractive when one’s mind is under the weight of the heavy emotions of grief…when one’s heart is burdened by the memories of a loved one we’ll never see again, at least not for a very long time. For all his simplicity, even Pooh knows how that kind of sadness can feel. When Christopher Robin revealed that he would soon be leaving for the ever-elusive “school,” Pooh did not quite understand what or where exactly that was. He didn’t know what Christopher Robin would be doing all day there, all he knew was that Christopher would not be spending the days with him anymore. Even through his sadness, however, Pooh also knew “how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Winnie-the-Pooh quotes are often featured in eulogies, especially those for young children. If you are searching for the perfect Pooh quote, for a funeral service or just for your own reverie, here are a couple of sites that may be of interest to you:
When I was in mortuary school, I had the opportunity to assist with a couple embalmings at a nearby university hospital, UT Southwestern. There is a “willed body” program there to which people may choose to donate their bodies after death. Led into the chilly prep room, I saw the two cadavers which had been laid out on twin embalming tables. As I donned my PPE and helped to get the supplies and solution ready, I silently thanked each of them, as I did everyone I had the honor of observing post-mortem. Before their deaths, these people had made a conscious decision to donate their bodies to this hospital, and they were counting as two of the many embalming cases I still needed to complete before I could graduate. But not only were they helping me, a mere spawn of the funeral home variety, they would be helping countless medical students and patients on the eternal quest to advance medicine. To facilitate life through their deaths.
Sometimes, you hear of people saying they would like to “donate their body to science” one day. Apart from choosing a natural burial, donating your body to science (anatomical bequest) may be the best option for those who are looking for a more environmentally-friendly final disposition. It is also cost-effective. Most donation programs will, following utilization, perform cremation for free or offer a stipend. The remains can then be returned to the family. Not only easy on the environment and the wallet, whole body donation is a selfless act considered by many to be the ultimate gift.
One caveat of choosing to donate your body to science is that you do not usually get to choose how it is utilized. Generally, bequeathed bodies are used for educational purposes, and they are often embalmed (sometimes with help from students or apprentices). You may wish that your body be used to find a cure for some rare disease or cancer, but it’s more likely that it will be chosen as a practice palette for surgical med students. But no matter how your body is used, you can be sure that it will be a gift of monumental importance to the advancement of medicine and science as a whole. You are choosing to take a lasting part in something that could potentially save the life of someone else, while curbing harm to Mother Earth at the same time.
Another eco-friendly option there is to consider is whole body donation to a “body farm.” The picture that pops into your mind is probably close enough to the real thing! At a body farm, cadavers are arranged outside against varying elements of weather, air exposure, animal contact, etc. Scientists study the stages of decomposition in these bodies to learn more about the timing and properties of each stage. This information can be monumentally useful to crime scene investigators as well as to students of forensic anthropology. There is one such location in Texas, Freeman Ranch Body Farm at Texas State’s Forensic Anthropology Research Facility in San Marcos.
If you or someone you love is considering whole body donation in Texas, this website is a great place to start for more information:
Caitlin Doughty and Amber Carvaly are directors at Undertaking LA, a quaint funeral suite located in the middle of the urban hustle of Los Angeles. Fully licensed, and established by Caitlin in 2015, Undertaking LA differentiates itself from today’s more corporate funeral homes by placing all preparation decisions into the hands of the family. Undertaking LA allows- encourages, in fact- families who seek their services to take a central role in preparing their loved one for final disposition. This can include participating in bathing, dressing, laying out the body, deciding between cremation, burial, if there is a need for embalming, etc. These things can happen at the funeral home or at the family's home.
At first glance, this familial approach may seem radically modern or alternative. But family involvement in funeral preparations, especially at home, is not a radical idea by any means; those such as Undertaking LA who implement this approach are simply bringing the family back into engagement with their dead, as it was just a century ago. By doing this, death care is once again normalized, to an extent, and any fears a family may have concerning the body of their loved one may be soothed under the compassionate guidance of experienced professionals. There can be an element of healing to this approach that cannot be attained, at least to such a degree, at “regular” funeral homes.
Before Undertaking LA was founded, the Order of the Good Death was conceived. In 2010 Caitlin Doughty was a new mortuary graduate just trying to find her way in the funeral service world (there are more reasons than one that the industry is not for the faint of heart…!) She started out conventionally with a job at a crematory, but she had bigger ideas about what she wanted death care to look like in the twenty-first century. According to the Order of the Good Death’s website, “…Caitlin dreamed of living in a culture with a more open, honest engagement with death. She believed that change would only happen with a better funeral industry, where the family could be involved with the process, and the dead weren’t hidden behind closed doors...”
And thus, the Order of the Good Death came to be.
“The Order is about making death a part of your life. That means committing to staring down your death fears- whether it be your own death, the death of those you love, the pain of dying, the afterlife (or lack thereof), grief, corpses, bodily decomposition, or all of the above. Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.”
In early 2018 I had the honor of speaking via email with Amber Carvaly of Undertaking LA. She was kind enough to provide me some leads for related work I was doing at the time. The Order of the Good Death and the ideas it promotes are gaining traction, and I was not really expecting a reply from anyone when I sent the email. The fact that I did receive a reply showcases the true desires of Amber, Caitlin, and all of the other members of the Order who want to see more promotion of the death positive movement (yes, that is a thing!) and of a more family-centered funeral service.
Caitlin has written several interesting and highly informative books, including “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory,” “From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death,” and most recently, “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death.” Her YouTube channel, Ask a Mortician, is another great resource for those seeking more information. It is sprinkled with respectable humor, and in my opinion is a great place to start the journey toward shedding the fear and stigma of all things death that so permeates our culture.
I am a proud member of The Order of the Good Death and encourage my interested readers to research their ideas on death acceptance for themselves :)
I was in the 4th grade when I was first introduced to Leo Buscaglia. I met him through his book, “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf,” a sweet little story about a leaf’s journey through the cycle of life, from spring to winter (birth to death).
I was pretty close to Mrs. D., the counselor at my elementary school (many of the students were…she was a special lady). When a relative passed away that school year, I was called into her office to talk about how I was feeling.
I remember after we finished talking, Mrs. D. pulled “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” from the shelf in her office and said I could borrow it to read at home. It had colorful photographs of trees and leaves all throughout as it described Freddie and his navigation through the myriad thoughts and emotions that come with growing up, finding your purpose, and growing older.
As summer turned to fall, Freddie saw himself and all his leaf friends around him changing colors. Eventually, Freddie watched as his friends let go and fall to the ground, one by one. He inevitably began to wonder what would happen when he too finally fell from the sturdy, safe branch he had known his whole existence.
And he wondered what it would feel like to make that fall.
The book ends by providing a description of Freddie’s experience with his own "death." It details it as a gentle fall and one with which Freddie can find peace even without knowing that his body will be providing nutrients for the tree as it prepares for the next spring. It’s an appropriate read for all ages, especially for children when they begin to have questions about death or what it’s like to die (and it’s normal for children to be curious).
I have no idea why, but for some reason I never got Mrs. D. her book back. And perhaps more surprisingly, she never asked for it back.
Elementary school ended, and I moved on to junior high, high school, and then eventually graduated. I kept “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” through all those years, looking back through it every now and then. It was such a simple, comforting read and over time had become one of my favorite books.
One day we got the sad news that our beloved counselor had died in a car accident. I had not seen Mrs. D. in some years but mourned the sweet memories I had of her. I remembered that I still had her book, and felt pretty bad that I’d never returned it to her.
But then, picking up the book and reading it again in light of her death made me realize that she would have been glad that I still had it now…it was still providing me comfort even in adulthood.
Freddie’s creator was Leo Buscaglia, also known as “Dr. Love.” He was a professor and motivational speaker who was, for lack of a better comparison, a kind of Mr. Rogers in his own right. Besides “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf,” he is the author of several other books, including “Loving Each Other: The Challenge of Human Relationships,” “Living, Loving, and Learning” and “Bus 9 to Paradise.”
Mr. Buscaglia passed away in 1998, but he lives on in this little gem of a story…and so does Mrs. D.