What is the Difference between a Casket and a Coffin?

February 28th, 2015

burial in a casket or coffinOutside the funeral industry, the terms “casket” and “coffin” are often used interchangeably to describe the vessel in which the deceased is placed before being buried in the ground. Most people recognize both words, and are comfortable using both in situations related to death and burial.

In reality, a casket and a coffin are not the same things. A coffin (a term that has been around since the 1500s) is the traditional burial box we associate with death. Shaped to fit the human body (with six or eight sides, wider at the top for the arms and torso), a coffin is designed to be built fairly cheaply and with a minimum amount ofmaterials. Because many people in history built their own coffins, or hired a coffin maker to do it, the emphasis was on practical burial that didn’t put a strain on family finances. Coffins are almost always made of wood instead of more valuable metals.

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What to Do with a Wedding Ring when a Loved One Dies

February 24th, 2015

couple sharing wedding vows

Few pieces of jewelry have more meaning than a wedding ring. Although family heirlooms, class rings, sports jewelry, and other items often have sentimental value of their own (not to mention high price tags), it’s the sign of our lasting commitment that carries the most weight.

When a spouse or parent dies, it can be difficult to know how to handle the issue of the wedding ring. Should it be buried with the deceased? Kept aside to be passed down to the next generation? Otherwise memorialized so that everyone can enjoy it? Read the rest of this entry »


Non-Denominational Sympathy Card Messages

February 18th, 2015

condolences sympathy card Sending a sympathy card to a family who has just experienced a loss is a kind and low-cost way to show your support. Because too many funeral flowers can be overwhelming—and because many people would rather not receive financial support or gift baskets—sympathy cards allow you to share your regrets without overwhelming the family.

Because of the nature of death and dying, most sympathy cards and the messages for sympathy cards are religious in nature. However, not every family appreciates spiritual sentiments at this time, or you yourself may be agnostic/atheist and don’t wish to send a religious card. Read the rest of this entry »


Funeral Planning Tips: Tasks to Give Friends and Family

February 11th, 2015

family help with funeral tasks One of the most difficult thing about mourning the loss of a loved one is the feeling of helplessness that inevitably arises. Immediate family is tasked with the job of planning the funeral, sorting through pictures, preparing for guests, and other funeral-related tasks—which might not be fun, but does have the advantage of keeping individuals busy while they grieve.

For more distant relatives and friends, however, not being able to do more than send flowers or a sympathy card is difficult. They want to feel needed and useful—not just to help the family through their difficulties, but so they can begin their own process of grieving.

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How Celebrity Deaths Affect Us

February 4th, 2015

How Celebrity Deaths Affect UsNothing arouses curiosity quite like a death—and a celebrity’s death is cause for even more speculation. In addition to questions about how and why a beloved media icon passed on, we often find ourselves questioning our own emotional responses. Read the rest of this entry »


Containers to Use Instead of an Urn

January 30th, 2015

Containers to Use Instead of an UrnWhen you have a loved one cremated, there are countless ways you can dispose of the ashes left behind. People store them, scatter them, bury them, and put them on display. Some innovative companies even allow you to transform them into other types of objects, which range from records and diamonds to coral reefs.

For most families, ashes are kept in an urn or other container to be placed on a shelf or mantle. Because urns can be costly (and not always necessary), urn alternatives tend to work just as well.  Read the rest of this entry »


Creative and DIY Memorials to Make from the Deceased Belongings

January 25th, 2015

Creative and DIY Memorials to Make from the Deceased BelongingsThrowing away personal effects can be a difficult process for those in mourning over a loved one. Whether you’re clearing a room or an entire house, discarding cherished memories or donating items to charity can feel like saying goodbye all over again.

If you aren’t quite ready to get rid of the entire closet full of clothes, or if you’d rather not sell off furniture that’s been in your family for years, here are a few creative ways to memorialize your loved one.

  • Make a Blanket or Quilt: Old clothes can make an excellent source of fabric for a commemorative quilt. Choose your favorite (and most memorable) items of clothing, and cut squares of fabric to be made into a blanket. If you sew, you can do it yourself, or there are specialty providers who can make it for you. This item can be cherished forever without taking up too much space. Read the rest of this entry »

Notifying Social Security about a Death

January 20th, 2015

Notifying Social Security about a DeathManaging the death of a loved one might seem like a highly private and personal affair, but there is actually a complex maze of paperwork, bureaucracy, and government involvement that has to take place before the deceased can be laid to rest. Although most of the initial paperwork will be filled out by city officials and your funeral director, it’s a good idea to know what is being filed where—and why.

Social Security Administration

Just as the Social Security Administration must be notified of a child’s birth, so must they be notified of an individual’s death. This is necessary to stop the deceased’s Social Security Number from being used (either legally or illegally), and to ensure that there is an official record of death with the U.S. Government. Read the rest of this entry »


Disposing of a Loved One’s Personal Effects

January 16th, 2015

Disposing of a Loved One’s Personal EffectsAfter the funeral plans have been completed and life has settled into what will be your new normal, it’s time to deal with the personal effects a death leaves behind. Although some of the deceased’s belongings might have been divided among descendants according to the will, most people leave closets (and even homes) full of stuff behind. Clothes, furniture, books, pictures, mementos of vacations long gone…all of these things eventually have to be sorted through and taken care of.

For most people, this is a bittersweet time. Painful memories are sure to arise as you sift through the remnants of a loved one’s lifetime, but you may also find that there are positive associations, as well. Although there is no right or wrong way to go about things, here are a few tips for sorting through a loved one’s personal effects after they are gone. Read the rest of this entry »


Where/How to Buy Funeral Clothes

January 7th, 2015

 Where/How to Buy Funeral ClothesAlthough there is no rule that says you have to go out and buy all black clothes for a funeral, many people find that nothing in their closet seems to fit the overall tone of a funeral—the somber atmosphere, the desire to be respectful, the fact that you’ll be seeing friends and relatives for the first time in years. Read the rest of this entry »


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