August 31st, 2019 will mark the 22nd anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana. Born into aristocracy as Diana Frances Spencer in 1961, she became Diana, Princess of Wales, upon her marriage to Prince Charles. She was destined to be the future Queen of England, but fate would not allow it.
Diana grew up in Norfolk, England on the Sandringham Estate. She was only six years old when her parents divorced. This event saddened her deeply and affected her for the rest of her life.
When her school days were done, she took several different jobs, from nannying to restaurant cook. She was quickly noticed by the paparazzi when her courtship with Prince Charles began in the late 1970’s…the cameras would never leave her alone from then on.
Diana married Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, on July 29th, 1981. The day was deemed the ultimate “fairy tale wedding” by the press, but the actual marriage would prove quite the opposite of a beautiful fairy tale. Despite all of the glamour and smiles, Diana would later admit that her wedding day was “the worst day of my life.”
Little did the public know, during their engagement both Diana and Charles had serious doubts about their love for one another. These doubts would lead to terrible rumors and infidelity. Both of them had affairs during the marriage, with Charles resuming a relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowels-- a flame from his past he never quite got over. Diana always knew about this relationship, and it caused her much mental and emotional turmoil.
Despite sharing two children, William and Harry, the couple’s relationship was irreconcilable, and in 1996 they were officially divorced.
Although no longer a member of the royal family, “The People’s Princess” remained beloved by the public, not only in Britain but all across the globe. Her death therefore came as a total shock to the entire world.
On August 31st, 1997, Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were in Paris. They had just left the hotel where they were staying and were being hounded by the paparazzi. Their driver crashed their Mercedes in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, fatally wounding Dodi and the driver. Only her bodyguard came out of the wreck alive, although critically injured and having lost any memory of the event. Diana was mortally wounded and died after being taken to a local hospital. She was 36 years old.
Funeral procession of Princess Diana
Her funeral was broadcast to the world from Westminster Abbey. Her brother Charles, the Earl Spencer, gave a moving eulogy that criticized both the paparazzi and also the royal family for their treatment of his sister. She was laid to rest at Althorp Estate in Northampton, England, on a picturesque island known as the Oval.
Princess Diana's gravesite
Diana’s legacy was one for the ages, and she will never be forgotten. Her contributions to humanity served to bring about progress in many areas…from eradicating stigmas surrounding AIDS, HIV and other diseases, to raising awareness of existing landmines. Diana’s personal touch remains, and her legacy lives on in her children and grandchildren.
To read more about the life and death of Princess Diana, see here:
Em-balm /əmˈbä(l)m/ (verb)
1. to preserve [a corpse] from decay, originally with spices and now usually by arterial injection of a preservative.
2. give a pleasant fragrance to.
Embalming rates in the United States have begun to drop, as cremation (and other more economical, eco-friendly alternatives) becomes more popular.
But there was a time not all that long ago when embalming was the most popular option for final disposition.
In ancient times, specifically in ancient Egypt, embalming came by way of mummification. Priests studied and became skilled at the process of removing the organs of the deceased. These organs would be preserved with certain spices and fragrances and kept in jars, and a salty mineral called natron would be used to dry out the rest of the body. The body was finally wrapped in linens before it was ready for burial. This whole process took 70 days. The ancient Egyptians believed that preserving their loved ones like this would allow their spirits to one day return again to the in-tact body, so that they could live forever.
Throughout history, there are other ancient cultures- the Mayans and Aztecs come to mind- that utilized embalming in one way or another. But in the United States, it all started with the Civil War.
The Civil War is known as America’s bloodiest conflict. As battles raged on, the body count began to climb to drastic numbers. When soldiers were identified, if possible their remains needed to be sent back to their families for a proper funeral. But it often took days, if not weeks, for the bodies to arrive back home, and by then, decomposition could be severe. The railroads were not willing to transport these bodies, due to odor and fear of disease. For this reason, mass graves were the unfortunate answer to the problem.
Enter Thomas Holmes, aka “the father of American embalming.” He was a mortician with a better solution. Before the war, he had studied and experimented with various forms of preservation, and ultimately decided that arterial injection was the best way to preserve the whole body. Arterial injection is the main method used to this day to embalm.
Holmes began to produce and sell his own embalming fluid. He was first hired by the Union army to embalm a few soldiers that had been killed in battle, and that were needing to be shipped back to their families. He charged $100 for each case he completed.
Embalmer at work during Civil War era.
Word of Holmes’ essential work began to spread. President Lincoln himself was aware of the great need for embalming during the war, and so authorized it for the fallen. After the war was officially over, embalming continued to gain popularity as funeral parlors took advantage of the market. By the early 1900s, it had become mainstream in America. Over time, arsenic was replaced by formaldehyde as the preservative of choice.
Embalming is still very common in modern funeral practice. But as cremation, natural burial, alkaline hydrolysis (more on that in a later post!) and other forms of final disposition gain in popularity, it’ll be interesting to see where embalming will be in 10, 15, or 20 years.
When you have lost someone you loved, especially someone who was very near and dear to you, you need help. You need loving support from family and friends, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. You need help planning the funeral. You may need help just keeping the house clean and food stocked up. Sometimes you need gentle reminders to take care of yourself, to bathe, eat, and brush your teeth or hair. You may need spiritual support and guidance, such as what a pastor could provide. You may also seek professional help in managing your thoughts surrounding your grief, and that is perfectly okay.
It is a wonderful thing to have people in your life who can provide you with these types of necessary support as you begin to process your loss and heal from it. But not everyone has this kind of support network, and these are the people who need special consideration.
Are you or someone you know struggling to deal with the passing of a loved one? Below, I have compiled a list of resources that can be used as a starting point to get you the help you need. Whether a passing has already occurred or is imminent, please feel free to bookmark or share this page as needed.
It is my hope and prayer that you find the assistance and encouragement you are seeking.
7 Resources for Those Dealing With Loss
1. Grief Net
Grief Net is an online community for those dealing with a recent (or not so recent) death. At Grief Net, you can join support groups, browse through the gift shop, and even create a virtual memorial for your loved one. They have two sites, one tailored for adults and one just for kids. http://www.griefnet.org/
2. Samaritans Hotline
Are you wrestling with constant mental or emotional turmoil following the death of your loved one? If you are feeling extreme loneliness and/or having thoughts of suicide, call or text Samaritans Hotline. They are accessible 24/7. For immediate support, reach them at: 877-870-HOPE or 877-870-4673. https://samaritanshope.org/
3. Everplans Funeral Checklist
Planning a funeral is hard work. Even if you have the help of a director, it is still up to you to make and keep track of several important final decisions. The end-of-life planning experts at Everplans have created a free funeral planning checklist to help you out. Find it here: https://www.everplans.com/articles/checklist-plan-a-funeral-or-memorial-service
4. Next Gen Memorials
Next Gen Memorials has compiled a lengthy list of poems, verses and other sayings fit to be read at a funeral or memorial service. Check it out here for some extra inspiration: https://www.nextgenmemorials.com/funeral_poems_memorial_verses/
5. Modern Loss- Books on Grief
Sometimes books can be the best companions! If reading is your thing, take a look through this short list of “6 Grief Books That Actually Helped” over at https://modernloss.com/6-grief-books-actually-help/
Also check out Eulogies by Aubrey's Pinterest Board, "Books on Topic," here: https://www.pinterest.com/eulogiesbyaubrey/books-on-topic/ for additional ideas.
6. Light a Candle
Many times, a physical gesture (such as a butterfly release or letting go of a balloon) can serve to help us say goodbye to those we love in a symbolic way. At https://gratefulness.org/light-a-candle/, the internet allows you to do this virtually. This site has reached millions of people all over the world…light your own candle there today in memory of your loved one.
7. A Master List of Grief Resources
Masters in Counseling has a giant list of 115 other resources for you to take advantage of. No matter what your needs are (and no matter what kind of grief you are dealing with-death of a loved one, child loss, job loss….), you are sure to find something helpful: https://www.mastersincounseling.org/guide/loss-grief-bereavement/
And if course, should you need any help writing a eulogy, you know who to turn to <3 Eulogies by Aubrey is a quality eulogy writing service available to you 24/7. Contact us today right here: http://www.eulogiesbyaubrey.com/contact.html#/
Selena Quintanilla Perez, the “Queen of Tejano,” was a Mexican-American singer from Corpus Christie, Texas. Hit songs including Dreaming of You, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, and I Could Fall in Love brought her to world-wide fame in the early ‘90s. Her presence was larger than life, and her tragic, senseless death brought the world to tears.
Born in 1971 in Lake Jackson, Selena got her start in music with the help of her father, Abraham, who noticed her vocal talent from a young age. Along with her brother and sister, Selena would perform at her father's restaurant, weddings, and other parties. Word of her beautiful voice began to spread, and soon she left school to focus on her career.
In 1989 she released her first studio album, Selena, and not long afterward fell in love with Chris Perez, who had joined her family’s band on the guitar. While Selena’s mother approved of the relationship, her father did not, believing Chris was no good for his daughter. When he started taking measures to keep him out of the picture, Selena and Chris eloped in 1992. Abraham took the news hard, but eventually accepted their marriage and welcomed his new son-in-law into the family.
As Selena released more albums and became more and more successful, she decided to start a fashion line. She opened several shops and hired Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club, to manage them. Yolanda quickly fell out of favor with the employees, however, whom she treated dismissively.
Selena couldn’t believe that Yolanda, who she thought was her biggest fan, could really act that way, so she never took steps to correct the behavior. However, her father and other members of the family could see through to Yolanda’s cagey ways, and warned Selena on numerous occasions to keep an eye on her.
When it was eventually discovered that Yolanda had embezzled thousands of dollars from Selena’s ventures, Abraham threatened her with legal action if she did not hand over documents proving her innocence.
While he also told her to stay away from his daughter, Selena chose to give Yolanda the benefit of the doubt, and remained friends with her. But this would prove to be a fatal decision.
In late March 1995, in order to avoid having to hand over to Abraham the documents he demanded, Yolanda claimed that she had been assaulted. Selena believed her and accompanied her to an exam. Back in the hotel room where Yolanda was staying, Selena requested the documents. Yolanda then pulled out a gun and shot Selena.
Bleeding heavily, Selena was able to escape the room. Emergency services was called and the singer was rushed to the hospital. All attempts were made to save her life, but the loss of blood was too severe. Selena Quintanilla Perez died March 31st, 1995 at the age of 23.
A public viewing was held in Corpus Christi on April 2, at which countless fans paid their respects. She was buried the next day at Seaside Memorial Park.
Yolanda Saldivar was convicted of her murder and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
To learn more about Selena's life, I recommend watching the 1997 movie "Selena," starring Jennifer Lopez. It does a wonderful job at documenting her childhood and rise to fame.
I have never been to see Selena’s grave in Corpus Christie, but would love to pay my respects one day. Have you ever visited there? Let me know your experience in the comments below.
In September 2015, Austin and I were married and decided to honeymoon in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Of course I was looking forward to spending time with my new husband, but I was also quite excited about seeing a pretty famous grave that just happened to be in Glenwood.
Doc Holliday’s was the grave I wanted to find. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery, a relatively small graveyard hidden within a treed area up Jasper Mountain. We would have to hike a pretty steep trail up to see it, but it was worth it!
Once we got to the cemetery, it took us a little bit of time to find the marker (he is believed to be buried somewhere in Linwood, but no one is for sure the exact location)…we were mesmerized by the other graves, many of which are from the nineteenth century. Linwood Cemetery, also known as Glenwood or Pioneer Cemetery, is also the final resting place of Wild Bunch gunslinger Kid Curry (Butch Cassidy’s gang).
Born John Henry Holliday on August 14th, 1851, Doc grew up in Georgia, then moved to Pennsylvania where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the age of 21. He was told he had tuberculosis shortly after starting his dentistry practice, and moved from town to town in hopes of slowing the disease.
Doc Holliday was known for his gambling ways, quick temper, irreverence for the law, and of course for getting into gun fights. Ironically, he was a good friend of lawman and frontiersman Wyatt Earp, whom he helped to capture another outlaw and also famously saved Earp’s life (remember that one card-playing saloon scene from Tombstone?).
He eventually made his way to Glenwood, Colorado, where he hoped the natural hot springs would help relieve the symptoms of his tuberculosis. He finally succumbed to his illness on November 8th, 1887 at the age of 36.
Here are a few pics we took of the trail and his grave marker while at Linwood Cemetery:
If you want to learn more about Doc Holliday and his famous grave, these links may be of interest:
Also check out the 1993 film Tombstone, featuring Val Kilmer as Doc. The movie does a memorable job at chronicling his adventures as well as his relationship with Wyatt Earp (played by Kurt Russell).
Really, Aubrey? Funeral fashion? Is that even a thing?
Yes, yes it is.
Throughout the decades, fashion has evolved throughout society, and funeral society is no exception. In the olden days (circa 1800s-early 1900s), when someone died, much attention was placed on what the mourners wore, much more attention than they receive today. In fact, “mourning attire” was all the rage back then.
Following a death, it was not uncommon for all-black outfits to be worn for an extended period of mourning. A good example of this:
Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
Britain’s Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, shared a love story for the ages. When he died quite unexpectedly at the age of 42, Victoria fell into a deep depression and never fully recovered. She famously wore black for the rest of her life (almost four decades) as a symbol of her sorrow.
Note: Believe it or not, much of today’s fashion trends come directly out of the Victorian Era. During her reign, British and Americans alike emulated her style, setting fashion standards for the rest of the civilized world. It’s no secret that Victoria was the first to wear a white gown for her wedding, setting that standard…and some say that she is also the reason wearing all-black funeral clothes became mainstream.
To understand modern funeral fashion, we first need to take a look at modern funeral etiquette. What is appropriate to wear to a funeral today? While much is dependent on the culture surrounding the funeral in question, generally, dark colors are still the way to go. Black, navy, dark violet, and dark greens are all appropriate options, especially when one is unsure of what to wear. But, as always, fashion trends are changing.
As time goes on, some families are now choosing to opt out of the traditional dark, sad clothing. Some even request that those who attend the funeral of their loved one avoid dark garments and instead go for bright, colorful looks (for a celebration of life or homegoing rather than a funeral). That said, conservative dress is usually still deemed appropriate for the modern funeral service, no matter the color choice.
As today’s funerals continue to drift away from the traditional order of solemnity (featuring the usual visitation and subsequent order of funeral and burial), and more into the realm of personalization, we will inevitably see more changes in funeral fashion trends.
Last week, Eulogies by Aubrey shared a blog post on The Grave of Johnny Appleseed (see http://www.eulogiesbyaubrey.com/blog/the-grave-of-johnny-appleseed#/). It was shown a lot of love, so today we bring you the very first installment of our new “Famous Graves” series! Come back soon to learn about more famous final resting places from all over the world.
The Famous Grave of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer and poet who led a sad and, some would say, eccentric life. Known for such haunting writings including “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and (my personal favorite) “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe’s rise to fame was unfortunately posthumous. The genius of his writings only began to truly seize the nation, and inevitably the world, years after his death.
While the exact cause of Poe’s death is not known, it is said that not long before he died, he was seen out wondering in the cold, looking dazed and acting hysterical. He was taken to the hospital, but succumbed there to his mysterious ailment. He was only 40 years old when he passed, and interestingly, there is no certificate of death on file nor any medical records available. He last words were reportedly “Lord, help my poor soul.”
Edgar Allan Poe was originally buried in an unmarked location, behind Westminster Hall in Baltimore, following a small funeral in 1849. In 1875, he was exhumed and his body moved from the back to the front of the churchyard, with a large monument erected in his honor. In 2009, a memorial service worthy of his legacy was held in Baltimore, complete with eulogists and even a wax effigy.
Poe's second and final resting place, Westminster Hall in Baltimore
The Poe Toaster
For over 70 years, an unknown person paid respects at Poe’s original grave site every January 19th, to mark the writer’s birthday. Known as “The Poe Toaster,” the cloaked man would simply arrive at the site at night, pour a glass of cognac and raise it in the air as a toast to Poe, and then disappear. Whoever he was, his annual visits ceased in 1998, presumably following his own death.
Cenotaph marking Poe's original burial site, and where The Poe Toaster paid his respects.
In 2016, the Maryland Historical Society appointed a new “Poe Toaster” to continue this beloved tradition.
If you would like to learn more about Edgar Allan Poe and his famous grave, below are a couple of links that may be of interest to you.
That’s it for Famous Graves #1! We hope you enjoyed reading today. Stay tuned for Famous Graves #2, coming soon!
My mom and dad are currently on a cross-country trip and have been generous enough to share some awesome photos of their adventures with us kids! This post was inspired by a recent stop they made in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the legendary Johnny Appleseed is buried (yes, he was a real person!) These photos are theirs! Thanks Mom and Dad!
In elementary school or at some point while growing up, you probably heard stories about a man named Johnny Appleseed. You probably remember learning that he was the one who planted all the apple trees in America, never wore shoes, and always wore a kitchen pan as a hat (tell me I’m not the only one who believed this!)
In actuality, the legend of Johnny Appleseed (born John Chapman in 1774) that we all know is not very far from the truth. He was a simple man who lived a simple life, but the image of him walking from town to town dropping apple seeds everywhere he went is not entirely accurate. John Chapman was a professional “nursery man,” and he knew what he was doing when it came to planting seeds.
He made his way across the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, carefully taking his time to plant and curate his apple orchards wherever he stopped. He was very interested in not only planting aspects but also in long-term conservation. He was a man of God, became a missionary and spread the Gospel message to anyone who would listen, including Native Americans. Animals held a special place in his heart; it was said that he would go out of his way to avoid harming even a mosquito. He eventually stopped eating meat. He never married, and was widely known as a very kind and generous man who would help anyone in need. Upon meeting someone, he was known to exclaim, “I have good news from heaven!” His tombstone reads, “He lived for others.”
Johnny Appleseed died in 1845.
Mom and Dad located his grave while visiting Johnny Appleseed Park in Fort Wayne, and snapped these pictures:
A closeup of the stone:
(Note- While it’s widely held that this is Johnny Appleseed’s final resting place, it is worth noting that some would disagree. See https://travelinspiredliving.com/gravesite-of-johnny-appleseed/)
When I was studying at Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, I had to take a speech class. If you know me at all, I am a little on the quiet side. So when I saw the syllabus, I just knew that this was going to be my least favorite class (after chemistry, that is)!
No matter what your personality type, whether you are outgoing or introverted, carefree or an empath, chances are the thought of giving a speech in front of a crowd of people gives you the willies, at least at first.
If you are asked to give a eulogy for someone you love who has passed away, you can add onto that all the emotional stresses that come with it…it can turn into a daunting task for anyone.
Some people say it helps to practice giving your speech in front of a mirror. Others say it’s best to pretend that everyone in your audience is wearing polka-dotted underwear on their heads! Still others suggest maintaining eye contact with one person in the audience the entire time (as if that’s not awkward at all!)
While some of those tips may be helpful for you, none of them have personally helped me the few times in my life I’ve had to give a speech! (If you are curious, what did help me during my college speech class was to remember that everyone else was far more concerned about how their own speeches were going to go, than how mine was going!)
DISCLAIMER: I may be a writer of eulogies, but I’m not an orator in any way, shape, or form. For what it’s worth though, here are some of the best tips I could think of for overcoming nervousness while giving a speech, and specifically a eulogy (I will probably be coming back to this blog in the future if I am ever tasked with giving a speech or eulogy myself!):
Hopefully you found this blog helpful! For more tips on giving a eulogy, check out these links from Eulogies by Aubrey’s Resources & Help page:
It’s not really something you think about on a daily basis. Maybe it has crossed your mind once or twice, probably when thinking about who you’d want (or wouldn’t want!) planning your funeral or giving your eulogy.
But think about it. If you were to pass away today (God forbid)…what would your own eulogy say?
While all of us would, of course, hope for good things to be said about us -- and for the happy parts of our life to be highlighted -- thinking about our own funeral and eulogy gives us a much-needed pause and a chance to think deeply about our life thus far.
…What will your eulogy say?
There are many quotes and sayings and songs out there sharing worn-out wisdom about living your best life, staying positive despite your circumstances, keeping the faith when the going gets tough, and staying humble when blessings do come your way:
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”
“A thankful heart is a happy heart.”
“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone…!”
Such quotes are dipped in honey and do sometimes help us to find the motivation to put our best foot forward in life, especially when we are looking for inspiration. But do we really take any of these words to heart, at least as much as we should like? And are more than just a few of these quotes focused on bettering the world around us, helping our fellow man, carrying out God’s will for our life (and not just our own)?
What will your eulogy say?
In other words, what is the legacy you wish to leave behind for your family and friends? Will it be, “Her business was the most important thing to her. She took a chance on herself and didn’t let anyone stand in her way. She was the definition of a boss babe!” Or, “He loved his family, but anyone who knew him knew that his baby was that old lake house. ” Or, “It was obvious that things didn’t come easy for her, but her self-confidence pushed her to achieve everything she wanted in life.”
Or would it be, “He had a wonderful and giving heart. Anyone down on his luck could come to him for help without fear of judgement.” Or, “While she did not have much, she gave much of her heart.” Or, “His bright personality lit up any room he walked into. His presence was larger than life and anyone who had a chance to meet him was left with this lasting impression.”
What will your eulogy say?