Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season...

Today's post comes from an article written by Amy Goyer on the AARP website.  She covers the difficult topic of dealing with the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.  For many this year, and every year, the holiday season will bring thoughts of grief and pain as they remember a loved one who passed during the year.  Amy gives some ideas about how to cope with the grief, and help you find some comfort during the holidays.  
Grieving the loss of a loved one is a deep and difficult challenge at any time. But the holiday season can magnify your sense of loss and mourning. Family gatherings and seasonal events can be painful reminders of the absence of a loved one. At the same time, they can also be comforting rituals where you spend time with family and friends, focusing on good memories and trying to recapture your sense of joy. If you are mourning a loss of a loved one this year, here are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Only do what feels right. It's up to you to decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle. Don't feel obligated to participate in anything that doesn't feel doable. Grieving takes time. You are very vulnerable right now, so all you need to do is get through the day or week or season — in a healthy way. Try not to think much beyond that.
2. Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren't up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
3. Call on your family and friends. Talk with loved ones about your emotions. Be honest about how you'd like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it's OK. Take a buddy to events for support and create an "escape plan" together in case you need to bow out quickly. Read books about getting through the holidays after loss, and seek out support groups, lectures or faith-community events. Seek professional support from a therapist. Stay in touch with others who are grieving via online groups and connections with friends.
4. Focus on the kids. Many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs. Realize that your choices around getting through the holidays may affect the children in your family. If you withdraw, they may not understand why you don't want to join family festivities. Perhaps you can participate in the family rituals or gatherings that are most important to the kids, and excuse yourself when you reach your limit

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Legacy Funeral Home--Sun City

Legacy Funeral Home is happy to finally have our own freestanding building in the West Valley! We have been out in Peoria for a year, but we were leasing a small space until we could find the perfect home.  We found it about a mile away in Sun City, on the North West Corner of 107th Ave. and Peoria Ave. The new location is up and running, construction has ceased (thanks to those who had to put up with the noise and hammering while we finished the remodel).  We couldn't be happier with the new building, and the opportunity it gives us to provide our customers with better services.  We wanted to share some pictures of our new location:
The outside of the Funeral Home with the traditional brick exterior, and beautiful tall white arches gives it a traditional, welcoming feel.  We have a large parking lot, that can accommodate those larger services.
Entrance, looking right, toward our chapel.  We found this beautiful metal "family tree" that matches our logo tree.  On the wall is our motto:  "Honoring a life well lived, and the Legacy left behind."

Our lobby is warm and inviting, with beautiful artwork, comfortable traditional furniture and gorgeous warm colors.  You will feel right at home.

Our coffee room, or kitchen area is perfect for enjoying a nice cup of coffee, or a treat during your visit to our funeral home.  This area can also be used for serving refreshments, or drinks during or after viewings or funeral services.  There is room for 10 people to sit comfortably.
Our beautiful handmade custom florals, add rich colors and bring the decor together.

 Our chapel can accommodate both large gatherings, and smaller more intimate services.  We can fit up to 100 people for any funeral or memorial service. The rich colors, and dark wood blinds along with the elegant, beautiful draperies and floral sconces, make our chapel the perfect place for your family to gather and remember your loved one.

Feel free to stop by at any time and see our new building.  We welcome anyone in the neighborhood to come on by anytime and we would be happy to show you around. We are open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.--Saturday and Sunday by appointment only.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Never too Old to Stop Learning...

I had the opportunity again this week to tag along with my husband as he performed a funeral for a family in Lodi, California. It amazes me that even though Todd has done thousands of funerals, you would think that this was among the first by the care and attention given to the family.  He really has a way of making them feel at ease, even in the worst time of their lives.  I watched him as he interacted with this particular family, who was seeing their mom and grandma for the first time, as she had died in Arizona, and these relatives lived up in Northern California where their loved one was to be buried.  He talked with them about how beautiful she was, how she looked so peaceful, and even happy.  She just looked to be sleeping, at rest, and at peace. One of the relatives came to the funeral quite distraught, but then saw Todd standing there, and because he knew him from another service he did for someone else in the family, he felt comfortable enough to come over to Todd and embrace him and cry on his shoulder for quite some time. As I sat and watched him, I knew that this is where my husband is supposed to be.  This is where he is meant to spend his days, and sometimes his nights.  This is his calling in life, to help, to comfort, to guide people as they find their way through this difficult time.  He has a gift of healing, and a way with people. Even though being married to a funeral director is difficult at times, as the profession is very physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, I know that families love him, and appreciate the care and attention he provides each of them. It is a demanding profession, but one that gives so much back in the way of satisfaction, for both of us.

It is fascinating to me how each funeral service is different, yet similar in its own way.  It doesn't matter what religion people belong to, or even if there is no religion at all, the underlying purpose of the funeral service is always to bring hope and healing to an otherwise dreary situation.  At this particular service, I had the pleasure of listening to Pastor Steve deliver a beautiful and powerful sermon about hope and human nature.  He talked about how as humans, we are imperfect beings.  Our human nature sometimes causes us to falter, and many times we fall short and are not our best selves.  He talked about how we need to forgive, and be patient and kind and loving to each other.  He talked about how sometimes, it takes something like the death of a loved one to bring people together, and bring about the circumstance where we can finally forgive and fully love another person. Isn't that sad that sometimes we don't realize how deeply we feel about a person until they're gone? So many people have regrets that they needn't have at the death of a loved one.  He also shared something that another Pastor had told him as a boy, and something that he had remembered, and kept with him all of his life.  He said it was one of the most important life lessons he had ever learned.  That lesson was this:

"If people KNEW better, they would probably DO better, but most people don't KNOW better."

His point was, that as we go through life, often we judge people harshly because of their actions toward us or someone close to us.  Sometimes, these actions can be hurtful, or just plain ignorant, but if we can think about, and apply the saying above, it could help us to stop judging, stop being offended, stop being frustrated with people, and just LOVE them despite their flaws.  Human nature is such that we are all flawed.  Whether we realize it or not, if we take opportunities to judge people harshly--we better be prepared to be judged the same way by others.  On the same note, if we are forgiving and loving toward others, that type of treatment will be returned ten fold in the way others treat us.  Life is hard, and none of us know how long we really have to live here on this earth.  It seems to me that the more time we spend being judgmental, harsh, and unforgiving, the less time we leave ourselves to really LIVE, and after all, isn't that what we're all here to do?  His sermon reminded me of one of my very favorite quotes from Maya Angelou:

“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

I've learned that we never get too old to stop learning.  Thank you Pastor Steve, for teaching me another fabulous life lesson, at a funeral of all places.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sun City Funeral Home GRAND OPENING!

We are proud to announce that our new Legacy Sun City location is up and running!  We will be holding an Ice Cream Social to celebrate the Grand Opening of our beautiful new building on Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16 from 3-6:30 p.m.. Anyone in the community is invited to come on out, enjoy an ice cream cone, and take a look around.  We are located at 10702 W. Peoria Ave. in Sun City.  We are on the North West Corner of 107th Ave. and Peoria Ave.  Come celebrate with us!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Healing after the loss of a spouse...

For today's post, I found an article written by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, dealing with how to heal after the loss of a spouse. Few things in life are harder than losing someone that you love.  Whether the death was sudden, or more gradual in the case of a terminal illness, it is never easy to lose a spouse.  I hope that these suggestions can help you on your road to healing and comfort you in your loss.  The most important thing to remember is that your journey is unique.  No one grieves in the same way.  Be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to grieve and heal.  Each day will be better than the last.

Helping Yourself Heal When Your Spouse Dies

Few events in life are as painful as the death of your spouse. You may be uncertain you will survive this overwhelming loss. At times, you may be uncertain you even have the energy or desire to try to heal.
You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, overwhelming and sometimes lonely. This article provides practical suggestions to help you move toward healing in your personal grief experience.

Allow Yourself to Mourn

Your husband or wife has died. This was your companion, the person you shared your life with. If right now you are not sure of who you are, and you feel confused, that is appropriate because you have lost a part of yourself. When you experience the death of someone you love, live with, and depend on, feeling disoriented is natural.
You are now faced with the difficult but important need to mourn. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death of your spouse. It is an essential part of healing.

Recognize Your Grief is Unique

Your grief is unique because no one else had the same relationship you had with your spouse. Your experience will also be influenced by the circumstances surrounding the death, other losses you have experienced, your emotional support system and your cultural and religious background.
As a result, you will grieve in your own special way. Don't try to compare your experience with that of others or to adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a "one-day-at-a-time" approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Talk Out Your Thought and Feelings

Express your grief openly. When you share your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Allow yourself to talk about the circumstances of the death, your feelings of loss and loneliness, and the special things you miss about your spouse. Talk about the type of person your husband or wife was, activities that you enjoyed together, and memories that bring both laughter and tears.
Whatever you do, don't ignore your grief. You have been wounded by this loss, and your wound needs to be attended to. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head. Doing so doesn't mean you are losing control, or going "crazy." It is a normal part of your grief journey.

Expect to Feel a Multitude of Emotions

Experiencing the death of your spouse affects your head, heart and spirit, so you may experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief work. It is called work because it takes a great deal of energy and effort to heal. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, relief and anger are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time. Or they may occur simultaneously.
As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Allow yourself to learn from these feelings. And don't be surprised if out of nowhere you suddenly experience surges of grief, even at the most unexpected times. These grief attacks can be frightening and leave you feeling overwhelmed. They are, however, a natural response to the death of someone loved. Find someone who understands your feelings and will allow you to talk about them.

Find a Support System

Reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, particularly when you hurt so much. But the most compassionate self-action you can take at this difficult time is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need. Seek out those persons who will "walk with," not "in front of" or "behind" you in your journey through grief. Find out if there is a support group in your area that you might want to attend. There is no substitute for learning from other persons who have experienced the death of their spouse.
Avoid people who are critical or who try to steal your grief from you. They may tell you "time heals all wounds" or "you will get over it" or "keep your chin up." While these comments may be well-intended, you do not have to accept them. Find those people who encourage you to be yourself and acknowledge your feelings-both happy and sad. You have a right to express your grief; no one has the right to take it away.

Be tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued. Your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. And your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. Lighten your schedule as much as possible.
Ask yourself: Am I treating myself better or worse than I would treat a good friend? Am I being too hard on myself? You may think you should be more capable, more in control, and "getting over" your grief. These are inappropriate expectations and may complicate your healing. Think of it this way: caring for yourself doesn't mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means you are using your survival skills.

Take Your Time With Your Spouse's Personal Belongings

You, and only you, should decide what is done when with your spouse's clothes and personal belongings. Don't force yourself to go through these things until you are ready to. Take your time. Right now you may not have the energy or desire to do anything with them.
Remember that some people may try to measure your healing by how quickly they can get you to do something with these belongings. Don't let them make decisions for you. It isn't hurting anything to leave your spouse's belongings right where they are for now. Odds are, when you have the energy to go through them you will. Again, only you should determine when the time is right for you.

Be Compassionate With Yourself During Holidays, Anniversaries and Special Occasions

You will probably find that some days make you miss your spouse more than others. Days and events that held special meaning for you as a couple, such as your birthday, your spouse's birthday, your wedding anniversary or holidays, may be more difficult to go through by yourself.
These events emphasize the absence of your husband or wife. The reawakening of painful emotions may leave you feeling drained. Learn from these feelings and never try to take away the hurt. If you belong to a support group, perhaps you can have a special friend stay in close contact with you during these naturally difficult days.

Treasure Your Memories

Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after your spouse dies. Treasure those memories that comfort you, but also explore those that may trouble you. Even difficult memories find healing in expression. Share memories with those who listen well and support you. Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry. In either case, they are a lasting part of the relationship you had with a very special person in your life.
You may also find comfort in finding a way to commemorate your spouse's life. If your spouse liked nature, plant a tree you know he or she would have liked. If your spouse liked a certain piece of music, play it often while you embrace some of your favorite memories. Or, you may want to create a memory book of photos that portray your life together as a couple. Remember-healing in grief doesn't mean forgetting your spouse and the life you shared together.

Embrace Your Spirituality

If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you are angry at God because your spouse died, accept this feeling as a normal part of your grief work. Find someone to talk with who won't be critical of whatever thoughts and feelings you need to explore.
You may hear someone say, "With faith, you don't need to grieve." Don't believe it. Having your personal faith does not mean you don't have to talk out and explore your thought and feelings. To deny your grief is to invite problems to build up inside you. Express your faith, but express your grief as well.

Move Toward Your Grief and Heal

Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself. Be compassionate with yourself as you work to relinquish old roles and establish new ones. No, your life isn't the same, but you deserve to go on living while always remembering the one you loved.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How Much Life Can You Fit in a Dash?

I had the opportunity last week to travel to El Centro, California with my husband Todd to help him on a funeral.  Truth be told, even though Todd has been in the funeral business almost 20 years, I've not been to many funerals with him.  I've been lucky enough to stay home with our children, and raise them for most of our married life.  Every once in awhile, though, I get the opportunity to help him on a weekend funeral.  The funeral we attended in El Centro was for a family I have never met.  This didn't stop me from crying through almost the entire sermon. It was poignant, and beautifully delivered by a pastor I have never seen before, who belonged to a church I have never been to;  but the message he gave was beautiful, and it touched my heart. I hope it will touch yours as well, as I try to share some of  it here.

He spoke about walking through the cemetery on many different occasions, and looking at the numerous grave markers, and monuments.  When you do this, there is a certain feeling you get, as you look at the names and dates of people who have lived, and died, whether you know them or not. No matter how they lived, or how they died, their lives are written on their grave markers all the same way:  with a name, date they were born, and the date they died, separated by a dash in the middle.  The pastor then went on to speak about that dash.

That little dash represents the life that a person lives between the day they were born, and the day they died.  That dash, for some, represents only a few days, weeks, or years of life.  Infants who may have only had days or weeks to live, or were stillborn, never having the opportunity to draw that first breath.  Children that were taken from us too quickly, leaving parents with broken hearts, and shattered dreams.  For others, though,  that little dash represents so much more.  It's hard to put a whole life into a little dash.  It's hard to see that dash on your mother or father, brother, sister or friend's grave marker, and try to fit all of the life they lived into that little dash.  That little dash represents a childhood, filled with innocent and sometimes mischievous memories.  Playing tag in the schoolyard, the first crush, childhood games, family vacations, jump rope, bicycle rides.  It represents the teenage years, filled with angst, discovering who you are, learning life lessons, driving, dating, friends, and fun. First love, and first heartbreak.  It represents relationships, marriage, sometimes divorce, children, career, military service,  more life lessons, everyday life, still discovering who you are, still reaching, still trying.  That little dash represents middle age, kids gone, a new life, working, problem solving, more life lessons, striving, learning, listening, counseling, helping.  It represents old age, grandchildren, traveling, vacations, retirement, more life lessons, love and occasional heartbreak.  How can one possibly fit an entire life into one little dash?

The answer?  We can't.  No one will know what kind of person your loved one was just from looking at their grave marker.  They will know when they were born, and when they died, but it is up to those yet living to make sure that those who come behind them will know what the little dash on their grave marker entails. In order for a person to have a legacy, what happened during their life, the time that fits in that dash, must be shared.  Stories must be told.  Pictures shown.  People remembered and honored.  Whether you choose to visit a grave marker once a month, or once a year, it is up to you to share that legacy with your loved ones and keep those memories alive.  That dash is indeed a poignant reminder.  A reminder that life is short.  Life is precious.  Love is important.  Live your life to the fullest, and make beautiful memories with your loved ones.  Live every day as if it were your last.  Love more, laugh often, listen with your whole heart.  Think about the dash on your own grave, and ask yourself:  What do you want people to remember about you?  What kind of Legacy will you leave?  How much life can you fit in a dash? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where was God?

This week has been a particularly difficult week in our country with the terrorist attack in Boston on Monday.  No matter how many times we hear about acts of evil, they are still hard to deal with emotionally and sometimes, we even find ourselves questioning our faith and asking hard questions about what we really believe.  This tends to happen sometimes after the death of a loved one as well. We might ask, "Why did God allow this to happen?", or "Where was God?".  We also might feel as if we are alone in our suffering and pain.  For many who believe in a loving God, it is difficult to face tragedy and death.  I thought this article was particularly poignant, not only for those who were affected by Monday's bombing (even though I think we are all affected in a way), but also for people who are grieving and suffering from the death of a loved one, and struggling in their faith.  If you find this article helpful, you might also be interested in the book called, "Where was God when...Real Answers to Hard Questions", by Mike Calhoun and Rick Garland.  It deals with this subject in a particularly meaningful and direct way and can be helpful in your grieving process. I hope these resources bring you peace and comfort in your healing journey.
This Book can be ordered on Amazon by clicking HERE.
Where Was God During the Boston Marathon?
By:  Susan Stamper Brown (the original article is linked HERE)

As the F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security sift through the collateral damage in Boston, one thing is abundantly clear: it was an act of terrorism. Questions, like who is responsible and their motivation, remain to be determined. Along with those questions, one cannot help but ask where God is during events like this.
It is a fair question. I've asked it myself a time or two; especially after losing my husband some years back. There is something about death that shocks the rest of us into reality. We want answers...we need answers. We need to know that somehow in some way the pain we are feeling in that moment is of some significance to someone, somewhere in the universe.
Meanwhile, the clock's pendulum swings, the sun rises and falls, the seasons change and life moves forward...whether we like it or not. At some point along this pain filled journey we call grief, we wonder where, exactly, was God during our time of suffering? Did he hear our cries? Did he see our pain...or was he too preoccupied with bigger concerns to notice?
We cast blame. We want justice. What did we do wrong? What could we have done better? Through the pain, we begin to understand how small we actually are... and how precious life is. We begin to recognize the reality of our own mortality. Like it or not, death is a reality for all of us. It comes for us many times when we least expect...and always too the blink of an eye or the blast of a bomb.
We must come to grips with the reality we live in a fallen world with all kinds of evil, and there's nothing we can do to separate ourselves from it. Whether we like it or not, the world is full of people who are bent on taking out their anger and frustration on the innocent. Take heart; the short time we spend on this planet is not all there is to living. There is a hereafter, so it might be wise for each of us to figure out where we are headed here after.
In the meantime, instead of focusing on all the evil which seems to permeate every crack and crevice of this planet, we must look for the goodness around us. Like in the marathon runners who ran through the smoke and risked their lives to help the injured and others who crossed the finish line and continued running to the hospital to donate blood for the victims. Where was God? He showed up in the form of first responders and everyday bystanders who applied makeshift tourniquets, carried victims, or simply prayed.
God gets it. He understands our hurts. He feels our pain, empathizes with us in our grief, and hears our cries because He knows what it feels like to watch a loved one die. He's been there. So he cries along with us, reminding us along the way to breathe in... and breathe out... as we wait for history to finish the last pages of the story. Someday, we will look back at this brief moment we called life... and exceptionally bad days like Monday in Boston will somehow make light of eternity.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

10 Things You Didn't Know...(Part 2) David Allen

Today, our series called 10 Things you didn't know about your Funeral Director continues with David Allen. David is Todd's younger brother, and partner. David is working mainly at the Sun City location.  He has been hard at work in recent weeks getting our new location ready to move into, and we are almost finished!  We are excited to be moving into that location in April!  Stay tuned for pictures and more information.  Here are some things you might not know about David:

1.  David is also from a family of nine kids. He is, in fact, Todd's younger brother. Like Todd he wanted to do medicine but soon realized after spending many hours and days at the library socializing instead of studying that medicine was not for him. After much searching and he realized the funeral profession is where he can serve the people in our community most. He graduated from the Mesa Community College Mortuary Science Program in 2002.

2.  David speaks fluent Spanish which comes in handy here in Arizona.  He learned Spanish while serving a mission for his church to Argentina leaving Aug. 1995.  He lived there for two years where he developed a greater love for God and a deep love for the Latino people.

3.  David dreamed of competing in the 1996 Olympics. He spent his senior year in high school away from his family training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.  He specialized in Olympic lifts (the clean & jerk and the snatch).  During his time at the training center, one day his dad received a phone call  from David's trainer.  He was concerned about David. Every morning around 5am a girl would come and pick David up, and then after a hour or two she would drop him off.  The trainer was concerned that David had a secret girlfriend and was messing around.  David's trainer was very shocked and surprised when David's Dad told him that they knew about this activity and that David was in fact going to a religious class every morning!  After all that training, sacrifice, and hard work, David decided to serve a mission for God and miss the 1996 Olympics knowing that taking 2 years off of training meant never going to the Olympics.

4.  A little known fact is that David and his wife had their first date on April's Fools Day and were engaged  two weeks later. They were married by the middle of June that year and expecting two months after that. When Dave wants something he is willing to go after it and work hard. =)  They have married for over 12 years, and have 4 beautiful children, Schuyler, Kirkland, Roe, and Jeri.

5.  David loves to do things with his kids like swimming, playing ball, rough housing, and even taking piano lessons. Every Tuesday morning at 5:30 am David and three of the kids load up the car and go to piano lessons.  David is improving... just not as quickly as the kids are.

6.  David has many talents and strengths, but kayaking is not one of them. While visiting his new in-laws and trying to still make a good impression he agreed to go kayaking. The picture says all that needs to be said.

7.  David has a not so secret love.  He loves to listen to talk radio.  David's kids groan when Dad drives because they have to listen to talk radio instead of music. 

8.  David has a very special bond with his daughters.  They have him wrapped around their finger. His oldest daughter who is in kindergarten was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease which means a completely gluten free diet. This has been a big change in her life.  Under the doctor's counsel the rest of the family was tested.  When the results came back and David too had Celiac Disease. When he told his daughter that he too had Celiac Disease, she stood up, threw her arms in the air and cheered. She was so excited to not be the only one to have special food.

9.  David enjoys nature and hunting. After waiting for 13 years to be drawn out, finally David was drawn out for the coveted archery elk hunt in 2012.  He was able to bring home the prize, a fact he brings up to his family every chance he can. He is the first in the Allen family to shoot archery elk.

10.  David is an eagle scout and has been involved in the scouting program off and on all his adult life.  For his eagle scout project he helped to close off unofficial trails to help preserve nature.  Even unofficial trails can be wrought with unseen danger like the time David was mountain biking in the desert with friends.  It was hot so he removed his shirt, only to have a biking accident and land spread eagle face down in a patch  of cactus. After his friends stopped laughing they were able to help him up where he spent several hours picking out cactus thorns/spikes. That's the joy of being an Arizona boy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Funeral Fact or Fiction: Myths Revealed

For this week's blog post, I found an article written for Living Well magazine in 2012 that does a great job explaining some of the myths of Funeral Service.  Many people have questions and concerns related to this topic when they come into our Funeral Home to make an arrangement.  As with anything else, you can't believe everything you hear or read about the Funeral Service industry.  This article addresses a few of these myths.  The article can be found online HERE.

Top 5 Myths of Funeral Service
By Rick Allen*

For many years, the funeral industry has been veiled in a cloak of mystery and even fear about the entire process. People have had fears about the funeral industry for a couple of primary reasons. First, the experience itself is something most people will only be responsible for dealing with once or possibly twice in their lifetime, so there is no familiarity of the process. All of us are a little leery about the unknown, so just not knowing what to expect causes anxiety. Second, the public perception about funerals is that they are extremely expensive. This can be true, depending on the choices a family makes regarding the type of funeral service, merchandise selected and whether or not cemetery property has been secured in the past or if that too is a required expense at the time. So, let’s explore the top five myths about funerals and see if we can clear up some of the confusion or misinformation that exists on the subject.
  1. Embalming is required – Every state has their own rule regarding embalming. In most states, the requirement for embalming is left up to the funeral home. Typically, if a body is going to be viewed or present at a public service or visitation, embalming will be required by the funeral home. This is necessary for public health purposes and a body that has been properly embalmed and prepared for viewing presents a better memory picture for those seeking closure in dealing with their grief. If cremation is your choice, and no one will need to see the deceased once they have been brought into the care of the funeral home, embalming is not necessary.
  2. Cremation is cheaper than burial – In a nutshell, yes. This is true because you eliminate the need for cemetery property in most cases. However, if you have a traditional funeral service followed by cremation the cost will be the same. The difference, or savings, lies in the fact that the need for cemetery property is eliminated. Most funeral homes offer a ceremonial (or rental) casket for those who desire a traditional funeral but also want cremation. The absolute cheapest way to dispose of a deceased individual’s body is by direct cremation. With this option, there is no viewing and no service at all. Additionally, only a minimal container (usually constructed of cardboard) is all that is required to hold the body.
  3. Only one person can be buried in a single grave space – Most cemeteries are now offering what is referred to as a second rite of interment. For a fee, usually a percentage of the cost of the grave space, a second interment can be made. If a burial has been made in the past, the second interment may be limited to only cremains. If it is designated prior to the first burial being made, up to two persons can be buried in a single space. Some cemeteries have special sections set out for this and the grave liner is already in place prior to either burial being made. These types of spaces are called lawn crypts.
  4. You must have a vault if you choose to bury – This requirement may or may not exist. The cemetery can decide if they require any type of outer burial container. If the cemetery requires such, its primary function is to keep the grave level by providing a foundation for which the dirt replaced in the grave after burial rests on. Typically, these are simply a concrete box and do not provide a dry resting place for the casket. If that is important to you, a protective vault should be chosen and this will meet any minimum requirement of the cemetery.
  5. Funerals must be paid for in full up front – Most funeral homes want to know how you plan to pay and yes, some will require you to pay in full prior to the funeral service. If you plan to use proceeds from a life insurance policy to pay for a funeral, most funeral homes will accept an assignment of proceeds as a form of payment. Most funeral homes also accept credit cards as well. Very seldom will you find a funeral home that offers installment payment options, unless you are pre-planning in advance of an actual need.
*Rick Allen is the owner of Allen Family Funeral Options. Visit their informative website at to learn more.

Hopefully this article has helped you to feel more informed about Funeral Service myths, and better able to plan and make decisions for your loved one.  Here at Legacy Funeral Home, we offer services and options to fit any budget.  We are happy to speak with you at any time, day or night if you would like more information. If you have questions, or concerns about any of this information,  please feel free to call us, at (480) 963-6200 or send us an email at

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Funeral is Over...What Now?

So your loved one has passed on, and the funeral is over.  What now?  So many people feel very alone after a loved one is gone.  This pain and grief only intensifies after the funeral, when people stop coming around, stop asking how you are doing, stop calling or coming by to check up on you.  For many, the time after a funeral service can be even more painful and full of grief than the time during the funeral planning.  There are many ways that we can help you during this time.  At Legacy Funeral Home, we don't want our relationship with your family to end after the funeral.  We want you to be able to count on us to help you through the difficult days ahead, the difficult process of healing.  It's the least we can do.

One of the ways we can help is through this blog.  In the days and months to come, we hope to be able to have resources that you can look to in your grief to help make your days easier, and your loss more manageable.  The blog is meant to be an extension to the grief counseling we offer on our website, and at our location.  With more than 15 years in the funeral service business, we have seen that although your grief is certainly unique, and your own burden to bear, many of the things you can do to lessen the grief and pain are the same.  Look for ideas and commentary on grief, healing, and comfort.  We hope that these will benefit you in a profound way.  Have a particular subject that you would like to read about on our blog? Please use the email contact link on the top of our webpage at to suggest a subject, or ask a question.  Any participation from our families would certainly be welcomed, and any feedback on what you read here is certainly welcomed as well.  Leave a comment below, or send us an email with your thoughts or feelings.

One more way we can help is on our website under the "Grief and Support" tab.  There are links to online grief support groups and resources including books about grief support that have been helpful to many of our families going through the grieving process.  You can also sign up there for our 365 Days of Grief Support.  If you input your email address, we will automatically send you a daily affirmation for 365 days, with ideas about how to move on with your life after a death occurs and how to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Families who have signed up for this service have told us that the emails are a simple, yet profound way of remembering their loved one, and healing through their most difficult days.  The service is free, we would never sell your name or email address, or send you unwanted spam mail, and you can opt out at any time.  The following is the first email of the 365 day series of emails, just to give you an idea of the service we are offering:

Daily Email Affirmations

by Legacy Funeral Home

Grief Connections

Grief is a Five-Letter Word - Day # 1

Loss is everywhere, sprinkled throughout our lives, from childhood into old age. Some losses are shrugged off without much thought or acknowledgement – others are managed, navigated and quickly set aside, but others are so big we can’t ignore them. They lay us on the floor with sorrow, and the grieving process takes hold of us completely.

Recognizing the actual regularity of loss, and the proven ability you have to work through loss and move forward with your life allows you to take control of your daily experience. You are the creator of your own experience. These emails will help you to work through grief, and come out the other side a stronger, more complete person. Each message will offer an action, an activity to help you put things in perspective, honor your place in the process, or care for your body and mind in some other way. It is our goal to help you “push the clouds away”, a bit at a time. Activity: Get a pad of paper, a blank journal, or simply a notebook. (I’ve found that writing in a beautiful journal can be inspiring – but some people would rather use an inexpensive notebook.)Buy a pen you love to use – something that writes smoothly and effortlessly. It’s time to start chronicling your experiences. One reason grief disrupts so many aspects of your life is because your loss is not isolated – now is the time to reflect on the other losses in your life. In so doing, each will become an opportunity to experience grief, and release it.

List all the beings (animal companions, childhood friends, lovers, or partners) and all the places you’ve lost. Take a moment to honor each loss, perhaps closing the ritual by lighting a candle – a time-honored action of reverence. Here’s an example list from my own life:
1. My first cat, Beethoven
2. My childhood home
3. My first dog, B-B (short for “Beast”, a teacup Poodle!)
4. My marriage
5. My husband
6. My favorite teaching job
7. My mother and father (one dead and the other estranged)

You get the idea, don’t you?
What you’ll learn from this exercise is the recognition of your resiliency – you are strong, and you will survive this latest loss. Embrace the process, don’t resist it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Grieving Child...

Today's blog post comes from an article I read recently on the website for the Focus on the Family organization.  I have found several relevant articles on this website for dealing with children who are grieving, and also dealing with grief yourself.  You can see this article, and link to others with the same subject, HERE.  At Legacy Funeral Home, we want to help you to guide your children through the healing process, and give them the comfort they need during this difficult time.  Please let us know if we can help you in any way.

How to Help Your Child Grieve

Grandpa Joe has terminal cancer. Great-aunt Susie is in the nursing home hospital ward. Your child's classmate just died in a car accident. Terrorist attacks and reports of wars fill the evening news …

Death is an ever-present fact of life, yet even adults face it only with difficulty. Here are some tips to help your children through the grieving process.
  • Teach that death is part of life. Parents often avoid talking about death in an effort to protect children from unpleasantness. Instead, look for teachable moments. Wilting flowers, changing seasons or the death of a family pet provides an opportunity to show death as a part of life. Visit elderly friends or relatives to show children that aging is normal. Children will accept and confront death if adults allow it.
  • Be honest. Present the information in a straightforward manner with age-appropriate information by explaining, "Granddad died last night." Avoid saying, "He went to sleep" or "He's gone away." These terms leave children wondering if they will die when they go to sleep or if the person is coming back.
  • Don't delay telling about a death. Delaying can do more harm than good. If you wait, someone else may tell your child or he will overhear it in conversation. Learning the news from you is less frightening.
  • Answer questions. Some children are satisfied with the facts. Others will ask a multitude of questions. Allow questions and answer them, even admitting when you don't have the answer.
  • Recognize fears. Death can be a scary concept for children. If your child expresses fear about seeing the body or going to the funeral, don't force the issue. Comfort and reassure your child following a death of somebody he knows.
  • Let them see you grieve. Children need to know that grieving is acceptable. Allow children to see you cry. Emotional pain is part of losing a loved one.
  • Cherish the memories. Continue to talk about the loved one who died. Look through photo albums, talk about funny things the deceased said or reminisce about pleasant experiences.
Children take their cues from us and model their reactions accordingly. Show them that death and grief are parts of life.

Copyright © 2005 Candy Arrington.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 Things you didn't know about your Funeral Director...

This post is the first in a series of  "get to know our staff" posts here at Legacy Funeral Home.  When most people think of a "mortician", or a "funeral director", this picture might come to mind:
If you're too young to know who I'm talking about, that's "Lurch" from the old television show "The Addams Family".  This series of posts is meant to show you that nothing could be further from the truth.  Your friendly neighborhood funeral director is just someone like you!  He or she has hobbies, interests, and abilities that don't include death care.  Here are 10 facts you might not know about the Licensed Funeral Director, and Embalmer at our Chandler location, Todd Allen. I know him pretty well, being his wife, so these are the real facts!

1.  Todd comes from a large family of 9 children, 4 boys, and 5 girls.  All of his siblings are now married, and all but two of them live here in the valley of the sun.  In the last family picture we took, there were 45 grandchildren, and still counting!  Now that's a Legacy to be proud of!
Todd with his parents, Bob and Sue and siblings:
 The whole Allen Clan:

2.  Being a Funeral Director wasn't Todd's first choice of profession.  You can say that we happened upon the Funeral profession by chance, I like to think it was meant to be. In high school, Todd worked for Randy Bunker, a friend of the family, in the mortuary business for a short time. While he loved that work, his first choice of a profession was in the medical field.  Todd's father and two of his brothers are doctors.  That was what Todd wanted to be.  It was after failing chemistry a few times, and realizing that medical school would require 30+ more chemistry credits that Todd started to realize he needed to change his plan. He changed his major to Business and Accounting, and was admitted into the Arizona State University College of Business in 1995.  In 1997, when he had finished his Business degree, Mesa Community College announced that it would be piloting a new Mortuary Science Associates Degree program. Todd jumped on the opportunity, and was part of the first graduating class!  Yes, he did get his degrees in reverse order, but we think that his business degree was essential in helping him start and operate funeral homes successfully.  It all worked out with over 15 years in the business, and over 3,000 families served so far. 
Here is Todd with his parents on Graduation day:

3. Todd was a football legend (in his own mind) in high school. Actually, if you talk to those he played with, he really was someone to be reckoned with! Todd played football right here in the valley at Mesa Mountain View High School where he graduated in 1990. Todd was a starting full back on offense, and linebacker on defense.  I can't tell you how many times we have run into people who have said, "I've never been hit as hard as I was by Todd Allen."  At the end of Todd's senior year, he had the most rushing yards in the state until a game where he was injured.  Todd's dad, the team physician, checked him out, and asked him if he was okay, and he could go back into the game.  Todd went back in and played the remainder of the game, but afterward, was in so much pain they went to the emergency room.  It turned out, he had played the entire second half of the game with a broken jaw!  Now that's one tough guy!

4.  Todd loves 80's and 90's era rock music.  His favorite time to listen to the radio is at 10 p.m. on 93.3 FM, when they play "Mandatory Metallica".  He also loves to listen to Sirius Radio's, "Hair Nation".  His favorite band of all time is Guns & Roses. Last Christmas, we got to go see them in concert for the first time.  It was a night to remember...just picture Todd banging his head through the entire concert!  Here we are leaving for the concert:  Can you tell we were excited?

5.  Todd's favorite thing to do is spend time with his family.  He has been married to me (Tami), for almost 20 years now, and we have 6 beautiful children ranging in age from 4 all the way up to 17!  Our oldest, will be a senior next year, and the youngest will be in Kindergarten!  Here is one of our wedding pics, and the whole family: Front row (left to right)--Ashlie, Todd, Jack, Tami, Josh  Back Row (left to right) Abby, Erin, Emie.

6.  Todd's favorite vacations include WATER.  He loves the ocean, and can spend all day out body surfing.  He also loves water sports like wake boarding, and water skiing.  Some of our favorite memories have been made in Oceanside, California, or at Lake Powell.  These are our favorite vacation spots in the world.

7.  Todd loves making funny faces in pictures.  Sometimes it's hard to get a serious picture of him, and sometimes it's next to impossible.  These are some of my favorites:

 Those ones almost got him strangled!  LOL!

8.  When he was 19, Todd went for two years on a mission for his church to Japan in 1990, and is fluent in Japanese.  This skill doesn't seem to come in very handy in Arizona...but is fun to talk about nonetheless. Sometimes he manages to find someone Japanese to talk to when we go out for one of our favorite meals, sushi.  Here is Todd with his dad after returning home from his mission in 1992:

9.  Todd loves hunting!  Growing up, Todd's parents had a cabin in the Utah mountains, and one of the boys favorite past times was hunting.  As he has gotten older, some of these hunts with his brothers, and now with his sons, are some of the greatest memories of his life.  Here are Todd and his brothers on an elk hunt in Colorado:

10.  Todd is a die hard, true blue (well, maroon and gold), dyed in the wool, ASU Sun Devil Fan!  We love to go to ASU football games, and cheer on our home team!  Here's Todd after one of the games getting our baby, Jack, autographs from the players...and who else?  The cheerleaders!  Go Devils!

And there you have it!  Keep checking back, we will be featuring our other Funeral Directors in future posts, as well as our office staff here at Legacy Funeral Home.  You might learn something you didn't know about them as well!