Providing Grief Support During a Time of Mourning

October 21st, 2014

iStock_000009447302_MediumThe loss of a loved one is, without question, one of the most significant hurts we will face in life.  There are no words for the pain we are feeling after saying goodbye. Grief often overwhelms us, and the need for space and time to process what we are feeling take precedence over all other matters. It is a difficult place to be, emotionally. Many of us have already experienced this time of grief, and can attest to just how difficult it is.

For loved ones, it can be challenging to find ways to be supportive during this time.  While grief is something that must be lived through, faced, and felt by those who have lost; those of us who want to help, naturally gravitate toward trying to finding a solution to what our friend or loved one is facing. However, the only solution is to allow this necessary process to unfold, knowing that healing will be achieved when the heart has had time to completely grieve.

There are, however, some meaningful ways in which we can offer grief support to a friend during this time, holding space for our hurting friend to feel the range of emotions that come with a loss so deep and palpable. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Funeral Etiquette Matters, Even Today

October 6th, 2014

iStock_000017315895_MediumAs we embrace so many new technologies and lifestyle changes that make life more convenient, there is still an argument for maintaining some traditions, namely when it comes to paying respects.

Memorial and funeral services are the essence of dignity, honor, tradition, and respect. They are a place for mourning, but also celebration as we acknowledge a good life, a loss, and the memories that live on through loved ones and generations to come. If there is ever a place where the significance of etiquette, tact, respect, and grace meet, it is in these last moments of a life celebration.

And, while the majority of us understand the significance and symbolism of such an occasion, there are some traditions that are products of generational preference that are no longer as meaningful today. Likewise, there are many accidental mistakes made now that can disrupt or even belittle the service. Read the rest of this entry »

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Technology and the Modern Memorial Service

September 29th, 2014

In Memory LetterpressThere are very few areas in our lives that aren’t touched, in some way, by technology. It is the means through which we communicate with distant family and friends, attend to our personal business and finances, and access media and other information sources. It’s no surprise, then, that there has been a marked rise in the need for the use of technology in modern memorial and funeral services.

While we may have once viewed video and electronic communication in an austere light, we are now seeing powerful, tasteful, and meaningfully crafted video tributes and live-streaming options. Furthermore, video offers us a way to capture the touching sentiments expressed about the life and character of the departed in a way that can be preserved for years to come, as well as shared with those unable to attend a service in person. Read the rest of this entry »

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Creating a Deeply Meaningful and Unique End-of-Life Service

September 22nd, 2014

iStock_000027910676_MediumWhile there will always be a place for tradition when it comes to burial options and memorial services, people are now beginning to seek out more personal, unique, and authentic ways to celebrate their lives, or the lives of loved ones. As communities become more culturally diverse and individuals embrace their own cultures, traditions, and faith paths, it is understandable why the standard service of fifty years ago is changing to include a range of expressions when it comes to end-of-life services.

Gramer Funeral Home, serving Troy, Royal Oak, Clawson, and Shelby Township, has responded to the change in trends, interests, and expressions by working with families to create that deeply personal service that exemplifies the personality, passions, and strongly held values of the beloved being honored.

Ultimately, a funeral and memorial service offers us a time to truly honor the person who has recently departed. It is one of the most personal moments between family members and loved ones, and finding ways to capture the spirit of the departed is necessary as we mourn, celebrate, and hold space for our loved one in a way that reflects his or her faith-expression, values, and most notable life achievements. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cremation: An Environmentally Conscious Option in Green Burial Services

September 12th, 2014

iStock_000036715654_MediumToday, we have far more choices when considering environmentally conscious end-of-life decisions. Many of us are opting for cremation as a way to reduce impact on the land, as well as help our family manage the financial demands of a funeral or memorial service.

From the trend in choosing charity gifts over flowers, to ecologically sound, low impact cremation disposition, we are reducing environmental impact and allowing our loved ones to honor our memory in a way that aligns with our values.

While there are many green burial options, most people select cremation and to scatter the ashes in a place that was special to their departed loved one. Cremation avoids the confusing regulations and prohibitive nature of some of the recent trends in green burials, while allowing family and friends to hold their own memorial service, or multiple services, when the time is right.

It’s important – no matter what you select as an ecological option – to inquire about the process’ environmental impact and whether or not it falls within the Green Burial Council’s guidelines. Gramer Funeral Home is proud to be a member of the Green Burial Council and upholds the highest standards in ecologically sound burial and cremation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Creating a Healing Place… A Permanent Memorial After Scattering Ashes

September 3rd, 2014

iStock_000001234220_MediumUnable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.
~Emily Dickinson

Throughout our lives, we identify comfort, security, family, and our most cherished memories with a strong sense of place. Place (home) roots us to an outward expression of what we are feeling, especially in times of grief.

While cremation has become an ecological and financially sound choice for many, it is equally important to consider the need of our loved ones for a place where they can remember, honor, and speak to our memory. When ashes are scattered, oftentimes it occurs in places that are private and important to the deceased and a select few individuals with whom important memories of both person and place were shared. Read the rest of this entry »

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Planning Ahead: Why Pre-Need Contracts Protect You and Your Family

August 22nd, 2014

WalkingThe weight of determining the right type of funeral for a loved one can be overwhelming to grieving family members. There are so many decisions to make in attending to the important details of a celebration of life. And, trying to address these important matters while in the throes of grief can be unduly stressful on a family.

That is why many of us are choosing to be proactive in making important decisions regarding funeral arrangements, even in our younger adult years. Pre-planning provides numerous benefits that help protect our loved ones while maintaining clarity around our personal wishes and the type of service most meaningful to us. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why a Memorial Service Matters

August 11th, 2014

Gramer_iStock_000023730860_MediumFor many of us, the loss of a loved one is extraordinarily difficult. The emotions we experience, added to helping those closest to us cope with their grief, can make loss feel insurmountable to even the strongest among us. Because of this, it can be tempting to postpone, or simply decide against, having a memorial service for the deceased – especially when you’ve selected a cremation service. Yet the enormity of grief is precisely why you should take the time to plan a memorial service.

The Act of Grieving

Cultures across the world honor their dead by performing some type of ritual or memorial for the deceased, and our own culture is no exception. While your cultural and religious beliefs may dictate what type of memorial service you plan, the act of planning and performing the memorial service is as much for you and the grieving process of the survivors as it is for honoring the departed. Read the rest of this entry »

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The History of Gramer Funeral Home

October 5th, 2013

Our tradition of service started in 1952 when Henry Gramer first purchased our funeral home, the historic building located on Main Street in downtown Clawson. The building had been operating as a funeral home since the early 1940s. Both Henry and his brother Richard served the community for many years, offering quality funeral services. Henry passed away November 21, 2005, and Richard is now retired. Paul, Henry’s son, continues to carry on their legacy of service. Our landmark home has been preserved and remodeled extensively to create a bed and breakfast feel that is inviting and relaxing.

In 2003, Paul purchased our second location, Diener Chapel in Shelby Township. The Diener Funeral Home was founded by Dale Diener and has been serving the community for over 50 years. You may notice a name change; however, in recognition of the Diener family and our commitment to Shelby Township and Utica communities, this location is now called Gramer Funeral Home – Diener Chapel. Dale is enjoying retirement, and his daughter Dawn Diener-Drozd works in close relation with our staff.

We are proud to offer service as family-owned funeral homes. We believe this is important and meaningful to families, because we understand the importance — and the personal reward — of assisting friends and neighbors in times of need.

We also consider it our duty to preserve the landscape of the communities we serve. In 2000, we received the Clawson Beautification Award for landscaping enhancements to our original Clawson location, a well-regarded landmark with the distinction of being the town’s oldest house.

In 2005, after renovations both inside and out, our second location, Diener Chapel, was also honored with the Shelby Township Summer Beautification Award.

Welcome to the Family of Gramer Funeral Home: Large Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Know You!

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Children and Funerals: Talking Points

September 27th, 2013

After a death of a loved one, adults are often faced with the decision of whether to include children in death rituals such as visitation, funerals or memorial services. As a general guideline, the most helpful thing we as adults can do for our children is to let them participate as fully and completely in the grieving process as possible. To “protect” a child by keeping them from attending the wake, funeral and burial (or equivalent) only closes them off from the process of grieving and healing.

The funeral ritual not only allows us to embrace and honor the life that was lived but provides us an opportunity to support each other as we go forward. By joining family members in this ritual, children are given a chance to receive grief support from others and the opportunity to say goodbye in their own way. The funeral and the time around it serve as an event everyone will refer to later as the point at which life became different.

Encourage, but don’t force:
Children should be encouraged to take part in funeral services but never forced to attend. When guided and informed of the process, most children want to attend. Children are not born with a fear of death; rather, it is often our reactions that give them this fear.

Children feel like their feelings matter when they are allowed to take part in the rituals. Some children have taken part in the services by sharing a favorite memory, reading a special poem, lighting a candle or placing a momento or photo in the casket.
Even if children do not wish to participate, you may suggest writing a note, coloring a picture or including a photograph with the deceased as a way of making a connection or saying something they may wish they had said or done before the person died. Allowing children to contribute helps them express their grief in a positive way.

Unless a child has already attended a funeral, most don’t know what to expect. It is helpful to give as many specifics regarding what will happen before, during and after the ceremony, as the child is interested in hearing. Allow the child’s questions to be your guide.

It might be helpful to describe how the room will look and who will be there. If the body will be viewed, let the child know this and explain the casket and what the body will look like. It is helpful to reassure children that death means the body is no longer working and thus can’t feel any pain.

It may also be helpful to prepare children for the wide variety of emotions people may be expressing at the services. Some may be crying and others may be laughing as they share special stories and memories. The wide variety of expressions of grief are all a normal part of the grieving process.

Although funerals are a time of great sadness, children need to know that the ritual is also a time to honor the person who died and a time for people to come together to comfort and support each other. It is also a time to say goodbye and to acknowledge that the person that we loved cannot come back. This might be an opportunity to explain what spiritual significance the ritual has for you and your family.

Being present:
Children need a time to say goodbye. They need loving adults around them to allow them to cry, to be angry and especially to remember. Grieving children especially need to know that they are not alone.

How children grieve a death and participate in the rituals of their culture determines how they will face future losses and sorrows. Allow children to do as much as they are comfortable doing. You may be surprised how well a child may cope given support and understanding and how much their presence may actually help grieving adults.

Talking with Children about Death

General guidelines:
Answer simply and truthfully.
Children will probably know in some way when they are not being told the truth. What they imagine to fill in the details is often worse than the reality.

Listen to questions closely.
As adults we often project our own anxieties onto our children’s questions. When a four year old asks, “Where is Daddy?” they may only want to know the whereabouts of the body and how it got there. They may not be asking the metaphysical question about an afterlife. Ask follow up questions to make sure you know what they are asking and why they are asking it. In other words what made them ask the question.

Only answer what has been asked.
Answer simply and truthfully, but don’t offer more than is needed. If the child wants more they will ask more questions. When children ask a question about feelings, focus on emotional answers and support. When their questions are factual, focus on informative answers.

Pay attention to their body language.
If they seem antsy, it may mean it is time to end the conversation. They will return to it if they need more as long as they know it is an allowed topic for conversation.

Answer these questions in an open atmosphere.
Use familiar expressions of comfort such as touches, hugs, smiles, and a loving tone of voice. Children need to know that what you’re saying or describing, no matter how difficult , is okay to talk about. Adults do not need to have all the answers but children do need to know that they will listened to.

Balance your own emotions.
For children to be able to hear the whole message, a warm and open approach is helpful. If you’re too emotional, they can’t understand the words. On the other hand, if you show no emotion, the words may seem too harsh.

Balance your own needs/abilities with what the children need.
It’s okay to say “I can’t talk about this right now” when you feel overwhelmed by the situation or need time to put your own thoughts together about how you want to explain things to your child. Children have a knack for asking questions at those moments when you least expect it. Better to postpone the conversation than to give an answer you may regret later. But it is critical to make sure that you do return to the conversation. It is important to remember that within a family each person may be in a different place and express themselves in a different way.

Possible questions :
What does dead mean?
In simple terms explain the physical process of death. The heart doesn’t beat, the lungs don’t breath, the persons doesn’t have to eat or go to the bathroom. Their body stops working completely. They don’t feel any pain.

Did I make it happen ?
This is a question which needs to be answered directly and clearly. Children will sometimes assume that their wish or words or thoughts caused this bad thing to happen (magical thinking). We need to unburden them of this concern, while acknowledging that we have heard it. Try not to dismiss the question. Avoid saying things like “don’t be silly” or “that’s crazy”. Rather “ I understand why you might think that but you absolutely did nothing to make this happen.”

What happened to the body?
Be as simple and truthful as possible. Use the correct terminology including casket, funeral, cemetery, cremation, burial, ashes.

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