Monthly Archives: August 2019

funeral homes in Macomb, MI

What is a Living Funeral?

People can still have funerals at funeral homes in Macomb, MI after they die, but some people are also choosing to have a funeral while they are still alive. These people are not all terminally ill, although some are, but are simply aging and realizing that their time in the land of the living is coming to an end sooner rather than later.

A living funeral is a way for people to remember their lives with friends and loved ones before they die. This is an incredibly reassuring event for both the person whose life is being honored and remembered as well as for the friends and family members who attend.

A living funeral doesn’t have to be formal. It can simply be a gathering at a home. All the things that would normally be done during a funeral service or memorial service (and which will still be done after death) can be included. Normally, a meal is part of the service, with friends and family members bringing dishes and drinks for everyone to enjoy.

A living funeral can be recorded or live streamed so that family members and friends who live far away can have a copy of the service or participate in it remotely. Living funerals give friends and family a chance to show their respect, to make amends, to say what’s in their heart, and to honor someone while they’re still alive and they can hear, see, and respond.

One of the biggest regrets that people talk about after somebody they love has died is that they didn’t get a chance to say something, to make peace about something, or just to let the person know how much they were loved and appreciated. Those regrets never leave because they can never be satisfied.

A living funeral can have a portion of time where the person who is being honored can share their deepest thoughts and insights into who they are with everyone who’s participating. This may include reading poems, passages from books, and scriptures that are meaningful to them and it made a difference in their lives. It gives everybody an opportunity to see the person has being honored at the living funeral in a way that they may have seen them before. It can be a very bonding experience for everyone.

Eulogies can also be part of the living funeral. Close friends can be called upon to tell stories and tell those who are participating why the person who is being honored is so special to them and mean so much to them. There will be tears, but there will also be laughter. And there will be love.

Some people also include music as part of their living funerals. This may be their favorite playlists or it may be a compilation put together by family members that signifies important events, like first dates, wedding anniversaries, births of children, or special vacations or trips. Having music as a backdrop adds a special element to living funerals, because music also gives insights into who people are and what makes them tick.

Living funerals are becoming more popular because they give everybody a chance to do what most people only wish they could do after somebody they love dies. One of musician Mike Rutherford’s (Mike and the Mechanics) regrets about his father’s death was all the things that he “wished he could have told him in the living years.”

For more information about living funerals at funeral homes in Macomb, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help. You can come by our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI, 48044 or you can contact us today at (586) 412-8999.

cremation services offered in Clinton Township, MI

Life Lessons from Morrie Schwartz’s Death

Among the cremation services offered in Clinton Township, MI are resources that can help us process death and learn life lessons from death. Perhaps the world had one of its best teachers of life lessons from death in Brandeis University sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, whose two year journey from diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to death was chronicled by Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie.

Morrie could’ve taken the road, as his disease progressed and he lost more of his motor skills, of feeling sorry for himself and shutting himself off from the rest of the world. However that was not Morrie was. Months before his death, he invited friend friends and family to a living funeral so that they could tell him what they would’ve said at a memorial service.

Unlike most Americans in Morrie’s time and in our time today, Morrie is not afraid to face death nor to talk about death. Even though ALS marched predictably through Morrie’s life, leaving him weakened and dependent, more and more, on other people, Morrie’s mission was to take death out of hiding and bring it into the open. His hope was that he could initiate a cultural shift in the way Americans see death.

Americans, in general, are afraid of death, ignore death, hide from death, and to everything in their power to avoid death. Yet Morrie took the approach that when you talk about death, you learn about life. The bottom line is that if we don’t realize that life is temporary and has an end, then we don’t remember about how important it is to live fully in the time we have allotted.

Morrie’s mission didn’t get traction right away. People read Albom’s memoir and loved it, even though there were parts where a box of tissues had to be close by. Yet, as soon as they closed the back cover, the same people went on ignoring, avoiding, and hiding from death.

However, change began about 20 years after Morrie died. It began with people chronicling their own dying processes online in forums and blogs. The first two health areas where people talked about the progression of their terminal diseases were congestive heart failure and dementia.

People with congestive heart failure began online support groups, where they talked about the health issues that they were suffering as the disease progressed, they supported each other, they encouraged each other, and they memorialized those among them who died as a result of the disease.

As people began being diagnosed with different types of dementia, some who were in the early stages decided to write about their journey. There are many blogs out there with final post detailing the date and time of the blogger’s death. Additionally, spouses and children who became caregivers for their partners and parents also began blogging, either while their loved ones were alive, or after they had died.

Author Ellen Goodman began a grassroots campaign in 2014 to get Americans to talk about what they wanted the end of their life to look like. The Conversation Project offers support and advice about talking about death. Michael Hebb, a teaching fellow at the University of Washington, started the Death Over Dinner, campaign to invite people to talk about death while they’re having dinner.

For more information about cremation services in Clinton Township, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI 48044, or you can call us today at (586) 412-8999.

funeral homes in Mount Sterling Heights, MI

Deaths of Despair: An American Trend

It is likely that you will attend some funerals at funeral homes in Mount Sterling Heights, MI where the cause of death is despair. That won’t appear anywhere in the obituary, nor will it be mentioned in the funeral or memorial service. But avoiding labeling it as a death of despair does not make it any less so.

Alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths have increased in almost every age group in the last 10 years, but the jump among the youngest Millennials (term for the generation born between 1982 and 2002) has been staggering. The latest data shows a 108% increase in drug-related deaths for 18 to 34-year-olds between 2007 and 2017. Alcohol-related deaths among the same age group rose 69% between 2007 and 2017, and suicides increased by 35% for that age group in the same period.

These numbers come from data that is been accrued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They paint a bleak picture for one of the youngest generations in the United States. In 2017, approximately 36,000 Millennials died of deaths of despair. Fatal drug overdoses accounted for the majority of these deaths.

In every age group where deaths of despair have increased, the opioid crisis has been the major catalyst. Opioids include both the prescription painkillers like OxyContin and oxycodone, which were heavily marketed (including generous payouts to medical professionals who prescribed a lot of them) to the medical community as being safe and nonaddictive by the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured them, and illegal substances, like fentanyl.

Many medical professionals hit a vortex of influence by the pharmaceutical companies on one side and an increased demand for profits as businesses began to take over medical care in the United States. Medical professionals weren’t able to spend as much time with patients to find out sources of pain, whether they were drug-seeking, or whether there were alternatives to prescription pain killers. The business side of medicine kept appointments short and crammed as many into a workday as was possible to make sure profits were high.

This perfect storm led, in part, to the increase in deaths of despair. A major additional factor was and is the economy.

The Great Recession of 2008 coincided with Millennials graduating high school and college. With the labor market tighter than it any time since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, Millennials had a hard time finding jobs. If they did find jobs, they were low-paying and they were in what is now known as “the gig economy.”

The gig economy, which is the modern equivalent of what the textile industry was in the 20th century, offers work by the piece, at low wages, on an “if-we-need-you” basis. It’s a great deal for companies because they don’t have to pay benefits and they don’t have to pay somebody if works not coming in. However, for Millennials graduating from college with lots of debt, these jobs, if they could get them (competition is extremely high when the pool of availability is very low), offered no relief. Some Millennials turned to drugs and alcohol for that relief, while others chose suicide as they sought permanent relief.

Interestingly, the other generation that was hardest hit economically, and which follows closely behind Millennials in these deaths of despair, is Gen X (born between 1961 and 1981). The highest concentration of these deaths of despair is in America’s Rust Belt, with Ohio and West Virginia having the most deaths.

For more information about funerals at funeral homes in Mount Sterling Heights, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help. You can come by our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI, 48044 or you can contact us today at (586) 412-8999.

Cremation services in Clinton Township, MI

The Lessons of Grief

Cremation services in Clinton Township, MI included grief support and grief resources, which can be invaluable as bereaved family members go through the grieving process after a loved one dies.

Grief itself is complex, because we grieve on many levels and for many things when someone we love dies. We grieve for the loss of our loved one. But we also grieve for what that loss represents in how our lives were and how they will be going forward.

Much of grief is seated in the intertwinement of relationships. As we reflect on our relationship with our deceased loved one and their relationships with us and others, we sort through memories. Some are good. Some are bad. And some are ugly. But this is a necessary component of the grieving process, because we come to terms with them all.

If we grieve deeply and another family member doesn’t seem to be grieving at all, we should be careful not to evaluate that as an indication of love or commitment. It may or may not be.

Some people are just uncomfortable with the pain of grief, so they will stuff the hole of that loss with busyness, with people, and with things, giving the appearance of picking up and moving on without a second thought.

Other people slog through the pain of putting a scab over the wound of the hole of loss. It is a fitful process that can be so interminably long and so excruciatingly intense that it may look like it will never end. But it will, and they too will start to move forward with their lives.

So, one of the lessons of grief is learning compassion, mercy, and empathy. We may not understand how another person is grieving, but it doesn’t mean that they are not or they are wrong.

Another lesson we learn from going through the grieving process is who in our lives is with us and who is not. Part of death and grief involves purging, not always by us, everything in our lives and sometimes that includes the people who are in our lives.

Being patient and compassionate with someone who is grieving is almost impossible if you’ve never experienced deep grief or the loss of a very near and dear loved one. These people are in our lives, and we find out that they become critics about and experts on what grief looks like and how long it should last.

If we don’t meet their expectations about grief, they can be very harsh, very cruel, and very hurtful in their analysis of us. But they exit our lives – their choices – and, in the end, that’s for the best, because they’ve shown their true colors and they are not our friends. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, and this can exacerbate the feelings of loss and grief.

Another lesson we learn from grief, however, is who our ride-or-die friends are and that is a blessing. That’s our tribe. We hold on to them, love them, and cherish them. And we hang in there with them when life happens to them. They’re not going anywhere, and neither are we.

For more information grief resources as part of cremation services in Clinton Township, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 46530 Romeo Plank Rd., Macomb, MI 48044, or you can call us today at (586) 412-8999.