Monthly Archives: January 2021

Preplanning Cremations | Funeral Homes

When you are preplanning cremations at funeral homes in New Baltimore, MI, you may be unfamiliar with what happens during cremation. Put simply, the body is cremated, and the cremation remains are returned to family members. Cremation remains can be buried in the ground, placed into a columbarium (a building or room with slots where funeral urns are stored), retained by the family in an urn, or scattered somewhere.

By preplanning your cremation, you can determine exactly how you want your cremation to be. In most cases, when people are cremated services to honor their memory are conducted before the cremation or after the cremation.

If you want your service to be held before the cremation, then the process will be very similar to the process for a service that is held before a burial. You can choose to have a viewing and/or visitation, which will be followed by a funeral service or a graveside service.

This happens within a week or so after you have died. If you choose this option for your cremation, then you will probably have to choose to be embalmed. Embalming keeps the body from deteriorating quickly. Included in the embalming process are bathing, dressing, and grooming.

You can choose what kind of service you want to have. The funeral home can accommodate any format service and their staff can help make sure that any customized requests you have for the service are included.

Cremation will then take place after the service and your cremation remains will be returned to your family.

You can also choose to have a service held after you are cremated. Many people who are cremated like this option because it has more flexibility. It can be held at any time after the cremation, so a convenient time that works for most people can be chosen.

You have the choice of where and how you want your memorial service to be. It might be a casual format where your friends and family share stories and memories about you or it might be a gathering for an activity that you and your family and friends all enjoyed doing together. The options are endless.

One of the benefits of preplanning your cremation is that you get to decide what you want done with your cremation remains. They can be buried in a cemetery, stored in a columbarium, kept in an urn by the family, or scattered at one of your favorite places.

When you are preplanning your cremation, you can also choose how you want your cremation remains to be returned to your family. The funeral home has a wide selection of urns and other types of containers that you can choose from. Most of these can be customized in various ways.

You should make sure to write down everything you want for your cremation and give the funeral home a written copy with your instructions. The goal is to cover all aspects of your cremation – the funeral director will guide you through this process – so that your family does not have to do anything in the way of planning when you die.

Once you’ve preplanned your cremation with the funeral home, be sure to record everything and keep your instructions with your important papers (include burial/funeral policy information, if you have a policy). Be sure to talk with your family in detail about your cremation plans, so that they know what you want and so that they know you have talked with the funeral home.

For more information about cremations at funeral homes in New Baltimore, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services offered in Chesterfield Township, MI

Sending Thank You Notes After Cremation Services

After cremation services offered in Chesterfield Township, MI, the funeral home will have thank you notes available that you can use to thank every person who helped you out during your loved one’s cremation services.

While handwritten communication is practically non-existent today, people who receive a handwritten thank you note from you for the help and support they provided will cherish it and will realize that you are grateful for them.

So, who should you send thank you notes to after cremation services for your loved one?

One of the most common funeral rituals in America is for people to bring food to a person’s home after their loved one dies. This is a tangible way to show care, concern, and support, and it meets an immediate need that you (and any immediate family who may be with you) forget about, don’t feel like, or simply don’t have the energy to make happen.

Additionally, if you have a reception after your loved one’s cremation services, it will most likely be put together by friends or members of your church congregation or other community groups that you are a part of. There will be several people who make sure there are food and drinks there for everyone who attends.

And, even in the first few weeks after your loved one’s cremation services, you may have friends or coworkers organize a meal train (where food is delivered by different people a few times a week) to make sure you’ve got good nutrition as you go through the process of wrapping up your loved one’s final affairs and start to try to move forward in a life that no longer has them in it.

So, you should send thank you notes to people who provide food to you and your family at any point before, during, or after your loved one’s cremation services. This may seem daunting, but you can spread the work out among immediate family members so that you don’t have to do them all yourself.

Before, during, or after your loved one’s cremation services, you had people either offer to do things for you or who spontaneously did things for you. These kinds of things might have been to take care of the yard, to help with housecleaning, to pick up groceries or prescriptions, or to take your vehicle in for service.

What people did for you helped you out tremendously. Each one of these people should receive a handwritten thank you note that expresses your generosity for their time, effort, and willingness to help you after your loved one’s death.

It will always surprise you that some people decide to give financial assistance after someone dies. Someone may have personally given you cash or a check or they may have contributed money to a memorial fund to help pay funeral expenses or to provide support for orphaned children.

However you received the financial help (even if it was electronically through a service like PayPal or Venmo or a wire transfers), you should send a handwritten thank you note to each person who gave you a financial donation.

When you and your family members write the thank you note, they should be personalized for each person you’re sending them to. Document what they did or gave you, how it helped you, and how much you appreciated it.

cremation services offered in Chesterfield Township, MI

To successfully keep up with all the people you should thank after your loved one’s cremation services, assign someone in your family to keep an updated list of people who are helping you and what you’re doing to help them. This will ensure that you don’t forget anyone.

For information about cremation services in Chesterfield Township, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.

History of Burials in America | Funeral Homes

Burials are a well-known part of funerals in Chesterfield, but the American history of burials is quite interesting as you review how burials have evolved from the earliest colonists to modern times.

The practice of burying our dead has been around for centuries. When the first colonists arrived in North America, they followed the practice of Native Americans, who set aside portions of land as burial grounds.

Burial grounds were considered to be sacred ground, but graves were usually not marked. The dead were usually just wrapped up in something and laid in a hollowed-out portion of the specially designated land.

When the Puritans buried their dead, a simple ceremony was held. After the body of the deceased was wrapped, a bell was rung to call locals to the burial grounds (which were usually located in the center of towns). The deceased was buried without any grave marker after a prayer was read.

There was a practical reason for all of this. The Puritans were surrounded by Native American tribes. By keeping their burial land in the middle of town and leaving the graves unmarked, it was impossible for their neighbors on every side to know how many of the colonists had died.

Their fear was that their town would be attacked if Native Americans saw the village numbers quickly dwindling because of a high death rate.

Another reason why Puritan burials were done without much fanfare is because, theologically they believed that as soon as someone died, their soul was already in Paradise, so the body was just a empty vessel that no longer served any useful purpose.

However, as more people were born and arrived to the colonies, and as death rates stabilized from earlier days, burial grounds quickly reached capacity. Not only did the decaying dead emit noxious odors, but they also attracted wild animals and humans in search of precious objects they could steal off the remains.

By the end of the 17th century, some of the wealthier American colonists began to establish private burial grounds for their families. They marked the spot of each grave with a marker so that each of their deceased family members could have their own burial place.

Much of colonial America at that point consisted of farmers. Farmers began to bury their dead in designated places on their farms. While most churches in the colonies did not have graveyards, Catholic churches began to build their own so that their parishioners could be buried on church grounds.

The 1700’s saw the beginning of cemeteries and graveyards. Although cemeteries were not actually built – and named – until the late 1800’s, Americans began to organized burial grounds and marked the burial places of their dead with monuments.

Churches also began to designate a portion of their land as graveyards, where their members could be buried after they died. The use of headstones and monuments to mark graves became widespread during this century as well.

In the late 19th century, the modern cemetery was born. These were public burial spaces that were designed to be inviting so that families could – and would want to – come and spend time visiting their loved ones.

So, when you choose a cemetery or graveyard for your loved one’s burial, you have a better understanding of how these came to be and why they serve such a useful purpose for those who remain after a loved one dies.

For more information about burials and funerals in Chesterfield, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral is here to assist you.

Basics of Funeral Planning

Planning funerals at funeral homes in Clinton Township, MI is something that people deal with when their loved ones passed away. You may be having a hard time planning a funeral for your loved one and not sure how to start.

Here are some basics that will help you.

Before you go to the funeral home, check your loved one’s important papers to see if they preplanned their funeral with the funeral home or to see if they left written instructions that detailed the kind of funeral they wanted.

Doing this can save you a lot of time and legwork because if your loved one has prearranged their funeral with the funeral home or they have left written funeral instructions, then most of the hard work of planning a funeral has already been done.

You will usually go to the funeral home within 24 hours after your loved one’s death. The right funeral home will let you know when you should be there to meet with the funeral director to make the arrangements for your loved one’s funerals.

This meeting is a critical part of the funeral planning process, as everything pertaining to your loved one’s funeral will be addressed. Therefore, there are a few documents that you should bring with you, as well as some other items.

The documents you will need to bring are your loved ones:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree (if applicable)

If your loved one was a military veteran and you want burial in a national or state cemetery and/or military funeral honors as part of their funeral, then you should bring their military discharge papers (Form DD-214), so the funeral director can make a copy of them.

The funeral director will work with the local Department of Veterans Affairs to coordinate all military-related funeral services.

You will also need to take the clothes that your loved ones will be wearing when they are buried or cremated to the funeral home when you meet with the funeral director. You will not need to bring shoes, since they are not needed for either a cremation or a burial. If you are having a viewing for your loved one, their feet will be covered by the casket lid.

At this meeting with the funeral director, you will also either bring an obituary you or your loved one has written, or you will provide the information you want to be included in your loved one’s obituary to the funeral director. If you want a picture of your loved one included in the obituary, you should also bring that with you.

The meeting with the funeral director will cover any service details for your loved one. The funeral director can give you guidance on the typical format of funeral services and memorial services. However, you are free to customize any part of the service to your specifications or to your loved one’s wishes.

One of the things you will decide about the service is who will participate in it. If your loved one specified people they wanted to be a part of the service, then you should notify them to make sure they are willing and available. If they did not, then you can choose and notify the people you have chosen.

If your loved one is being cremated, you will be able to choose the urn that you want their cremation remains placed in. If a loved one is being buried, you can specify which cemetery they should be buried in. The funeral director will handle all the details.

For more information about funeral planning at funeral homes in Clinton Township, MI – our compassionate and experienced funeral staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

funeral homes in Chesterfield Township, MI

Funeral Planning Mistakes to Avoid

People who are planning funerals at funeral homes in Chesterfield Township, MI are often running on empty physically, emotionally, and mentally. Because of that, they can easily make mistakes when they undertake funeral planning.

One mistake that people commonly make is not asking any or enough questions when they are making funeral arrangements. Grief over the death of your loved one will feel overwhelming, especially in the days just after they have died. This sense of being submerged can take precedence over everything else that you have to do to prepare for your loved one’s funeral.

This is normal. It’s a sense of shock and numbness that is generated by brain chemicals in times of distress to help us simply endure them and get through them. While it can protect you from falling apart, it can also mute your awareness about everything else that’s happening.

Because of that, you will have the tendency to go on auto pilot through the funeral planning process without asking any or many questions about the specific arrangements you would like to have for your loved one.

That’s why you should take another family member or a close, trusted friend with you when you go to the funeral home to make funeral arrangements. This will give you another set of eyes and ears to make sure that the right questions are asked and answered.

If your loved one left written instructions for the kind of funeral they wished to have, then you’re one step ahead of the game. But, you still will need to make some decisions about how to best execute those wishes.

Having another family member or a friend you trust with you will help you, because they can offer suggestions about various parts of the funeral arrangements and they can ask the funeral director for guidance and advice in areas that are unfamiliar or that require special services or customization.

Your funeral director is well aware that you are essentially in a haze when you’re making funeral arrangements for your loved one. Most people are. Your funeral director will empathetically and kindly lead you through each step of the process, will coordinate the majority of the arrangements (so you don’t have to), and is always available if requests or questions come up during the process.

Another common funeral mistake that you can avoid is not having an adequate support system in place after your loved one’s funeral. There is a maxim that says “A funeral is not a day in a lifetime; it’s a lifetime in a day.”

In Western culture, there is a tendency to belief that grief over the death of a loved one fits into a limited (and very short) period of time, and that once the funeral is over, that’s the end of sadness and grief, and you should just get back to normal life as if nothing ever happened.

The problem with this belief is that something very traumatic happened when your loved one died. It is a trauma that you will live with in some shape or form the rest of your life. Grief doesn’t have rigid start and stop points.

While you may have not choice but to go back to work or school immediately after your loved one dies, your grief will still be palpable and profound.

That is why you need to have a support system in place that is able to help you process your grief, get through the rollercoaster of emotions that grief brings, and help you take care of day to day life (shopping, cooking, yard maintenance, car maintenance, etc.) when you are not able to.

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For expert help in avoiding funeral planning mistakes at funeral homes in Chesterfield Township, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services in Washington Township, MI

Documents You’ll Need After Cremation Services

After cremation services for your loved one in Washington Township, MI, there are many important documents that you will need to take care of your loved one’s final affairs. You may not know what all the documents are and you may not know where to find them (if you’re preplanning your own cremation services, be sure to leave instructions on where your important documents are located).

One of the groups of documents that you will need after your loved one’s cremation services are records of their assets. Here are some examples:

  • Financial account statements – These will include all bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment or brokerage accounts, and annuities. If possible, you should try to obtain statements for three or four months before your loved one’s death.
  • Life insurance policies – While many people buy life insurance policies on their own, they also may have smaller life insurance policies through their employers. Be sure to check with the HR department of your loved one’s place of employment (if they were still working when they died) to see what benefits they were entitled to.
  • Designated beneficiaries – Life insurance policies, payable on death accounts, retirement accounts, and transfer on death accounts have beneficiaries to whom the money is paid or transferred directly. You will need to make sure you know who the designated beneficiaries are on each of these accounts.
  • Deeds for property – These include homes, buildings, and land. You do not need the original deeds, but you do need a good copy of them.
  • Titles for vehicles, boats, motorcycles, campers, and RVs – To legally transfer the titles of these, you will need to have the original copies for each of them that your loved one owned.
  • Stock and bond certificates – If your loved one had stock and bond certificates, you will need the original certificates to legally transfer them to someone else.

If your loved one own or co-owned a business, you will need the following documents:

  • Partnership, corporate, or LLC documents – These documents include copies of organizational (corporate charter or articles of organization and minutes) documents, operating agreements, partnership agreements, or shareholder agreements, minutes of meetings where business decisions were made, and original LLC or stock certificates to transfer legal title.
  • Account statements – You need at least three months of bank statements, retirement account statements, and brokerage statements.
  • Contracts – These include any loans, leases, and employment agreements.
  • Business licenses – You will need both local and state licenses.
  • Income tax returns – You should have federal and state income tax returns for the past three years.

Other important documents you will need to have include:

  • Death certificates – The funeral home will complete these and have them available to you after cremation services.
  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements – These documents should also include any amendments that were made to the original agreements.
  • Personal loans – These will include mortgages, credit lines, and promissory notes.
  • Personal debts or liabilities – These will include utility bills, medical bills, and credit card bills.
  • Will or revocable living trust – These estate documents should include any codicils (made to the original will) or amendments (made to the revocable living trust).
  • Personal income tax returns – You should have state and federal income tax returns for the past three years.

All of these documents, if their applicable in your loved one’s situation, will be needed to settle the estate of your loved one. Make sure you know where they are and how to obtain them before cremation services for your loved one.

cremation services in Washington Township, MI

For information about cremation services in Washington Township, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral is here to assist you.

funeral homes in Washington Township, MI

How to Find a Cemetery for Burial

Whether people are planning funerals at funeral homes in Washington Township, MI or they are simply trying to get their final affairs in order, one of the things that they will need to do is find a cemetery for burial. Since finding a cemetery for your loved one or yourself isn’t something you do every day, you may not know how to go about finding one. Here are some tips you can use to help.

Before you do anything, find out if you are eligible for a free cemetery plot that you haven’t considered or don’t know about. There are three possibilities that you can investigate.

The first is burial in a family graveyard. While some family graveyards in the United States have been forgotten or are no longer used, there are still a lot of family graveyards that are open and have room for burials. If your extended family is buried in a graveyard near you or in your hometown, then you can check to see if there is room and if the cemetery plot is free.

The second possibility for a free cemetery plot is a church graveyard. If you are a member of a church and they have a graveyard, you should be eligible for a free plot if there are any available. You can check with your pastor or the graveyard’s caretaker to see if any plots are available and whether they are free to members of the church.

The third possibility for a free cemetery plot is if you are a military veteran (with a discharge other than dishonorable). One of the funeral benefits available to military veterans is a free cemetery plot in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national or state cemetery.

If none of these options are available to you, you can do some homework to research local cemeteries online before you talk with the funeral home. The funeral home will be a great resource for information on cemeteries in your area because they work with them on a regular basis. They can give you advice about which cemeteries might best fit your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Location is always crucial to picking a cemetery plot. You want to pick a location for yourself or your loved one that is easily accessible for friends and family members to visit as often as they wish. If the cemetery you choose is hard to get to or is quite a distance from other family members, visits will be less frequent.

Before you choose a cemetery plot, you need to find out if the cemetery has any restrictions or requirements that might influence your decision. For example, some cemeteries don’t allow upright gravestones, which may be a deal breaker for a cemetery plot for you or your loved one.

Other cemeteries might only allow certain styles of headstones, which means you cannot create a custom gravestone for you or your loved one. In addition, some cemeteries have caretakers who are responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery, while other cemeteries leave maintenance of the grave site to family members.

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Once you’ve got a list of a few cemeteries that meet your criteria, you should visit them in person. You will get a better idea of what the cemetery plots look like and what the atmospheres of the cemeteries are, which will make it much easier to pick the one you like best.

For more information about finding cemeteries at funeral homes in Washington Township, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.