The Wind Has a Cousin  

As I sit listening to the wind rattle my office windows, I wonder at its power and effect on other objects. How could such an invisible force cause such a ruckus? We are all very familiar with the damage the wind can cause. Most of the time wind recalls a bad hair day or a destructive storm. However, wind is much more nuanced than that.

Wind is Soundless

Have you considered the sound of the wind? The noise we hear when the wind blows is not the wind itself, but the friction of air with objects in its path. Think of the “whoosh” heard when you drive with the windows down. In a slight breeze, you will hear leaves and grass shifting and rubbing together in gentle movement. The sound you hear is not the wind, but a mere reaction of the objects it touches.

Wind is Faceless

What does the wind look like? It doesn’t have a face. The wind is visibly indiscernible until it touches an object making it move, like when it blows your outdoor furniture off the porch. Sometimes we get a close-up look at objects moved by the wind…ever had sand blown in your eye? Yeah, not cool. You can’t see the wind, only its effects on other objects.

Wind is a Modifier

The wind is an invisible energy that changes things in its path. Living in Texas, we see examples of this all the time, especially in the Panhandle. Trees are so battered by the wind that they grow at a slant rather that straight up and down. Wind smooths and shapes rock formations in the New Mexico and Arizona deserts. It causes flags to fly and whip about until they gradually wear out. The wind is a force that wears on objects making permanent alterations to their shape and structure.

Wind is a Mode of Transportation

The wind is often credited with transporting seeds, especially of the dandelion, to new locations and therefore promoting new growth. Also, the wind transports birds, hot air balloons, and hang-gliders effortlessly through the sky. It propels objects to new places with its natural, boundless energy.

Wind has a Cousin…Grief

Wind can be analogous to grief. Remember that grief is not only a result of death, but is also a result of other losses – divorce, disappointments, job transitions, etc.

Grief is Soundless

Like wind, grief is soundless, an internal force that often prompts external reactions. Crying, sighing, angry outbursts, and verbal cues such as “Why???” and “I think I’m going crazy!” are sounds, like wind friction, that result from grief.

Grief is Faceless

What does grief look like? Like the wind, grief has no face, but becomes visible through its effects on an individual. Forgetfulness, distractedness, sleep disturbance, change in eating habits, actions contrary to normal behavior, stomach problems, trembling and fatigue are a few of many signs that may indicate grief. You may not be able to see grief, but it becomes visible through many emotional, physical, mental and behavioral responses.

Grief is a Modifier

Grief changes people. As wind modifies the shape and structure of objects, grief transform its subjects. Following a huge loss in my life, I was tossed into a windstorm of grief that took me down a path I never would have imagined. First, all I could feel was numbness, then a dull, physical ache in my body. As my world rocked and twirled out of control, a different person began emerging. One who was stronger, tenaciously focused, and deeply passionate about helping others when their lives took a turn for the worst. Along this journey of grief, I was transformed into a more empathetic, resilient, passionate person.

Grief is a Mode of Transportation

Grief serves as a propeller for the next stage in life. After hitting rock-bottom, I had nowhere to go but up!  I took a significant risk, gave up what little I had, and pursued a dream. My grief motivated and inspired me to reach for more in life. It transitioned me to a new chapter where I took risks and enjoyed life more than ever before.

Grief. . .Wind

Like the wind, grief is a force of nature that will rattle our windows from time to time. It may affect us in “bad hair day” proportions or it may feel like a storm of massive destruction. Either way, we must remember that grief is a natural and necessary process. If we allow the natural progression to take place…meaning allow ourselves to hurt, cry and fall apart…we will come out stronger and better. Let grief propel you to your next chapter…one where you will appreciate life more, love deeper and see things in a new light.

Written by Brittany Carrington

©2018 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC

Apps for the Grieving

After losing a loved one, you may feel you need support in understanding the emotions you are feeling, or help adjusting to a new kind of life.

Although nothing can replace the love and support of friends or family, mobile apps are among the helpful resources that may help you through the grieving process.

Here, we take a look at five grief apps which may help you understand death and the emotions you’re experiencing when adapting to life after the loss of a loved one.

1. My Grief Angels

My Grief Angels is a smartphone grief app with the objective of creating a global community, for people to be there for one another during their difficult times.

The non-profit developed app connects and supports people who have lost a loved one. There is a grief chat feature, which allows users to chat with other ‘grief angels’. The app also has a grief meetup feature which allows users the opportunity to create local events for other ‘grief angels’ to join. The Grief Support Network App is available on iPhone, Android, Amazon and HTML5.

2. Headspace

Headspace is an app aimed at promoting wellbeing through meditation and mindfulness techniques. Coping with grief is one area of mental wellbeing that you can sign up to receive helpful meditations for. You can begin with a ‘basics’ taster and choose to subscribe for regular updates.

Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe says: “You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgement.”

The app is available to download on the Apple App Store, and Google Play.

3. Lilies

Lilies is a user-friendly mobile grief app for young people which gives virtual hugs. Developed by six school girls, the app provides a safe community to share thoughts and memories, as well as grief tips.

A bereavement organisation for kids, Winston’s Wish, is supporting this grief app. It said: “The Lilies project team have created something very special with this app. They did something very few people do — stopped and thought about those children and young people who have experienced the death of someone close to them.”

4. Apart of Me

Apart of Me is a mobile gaming app developed to provide children with strength and resilience when someone is dying or has died.

Set in a colorful virtual world, the bereavement app was developed by Bounce Works, and allows children to curate memories of their loved ones in a beautiful and engaging way.

Upon opening the app, its users are introduced to a peaceful island that is theirs to explore. As they discover the various different parts of the island, they can undertake quests and puzzles. These have been especially created to help children process their emotions and also help adult carers to begin and support difficult conversations with them.

5. Nino’s Mourning Toolbox

Targeted at children aged four to 12 years old, Nino’s Mourning Toolbox tells the story of a dinosaur whose sister has died. The interactive story journeys through steps in the grieving process to help children overcome their loss and help families to support each other.

This mobile app invites children to answer death-related questions in a friendly and creative way. The activities encourage singing, drawing, inventing, speaking, thinking and listening as a means to better understand the death of a family member. The app is available for download on Android and iPhone.

Don’t Destroy the Brush: Life Perspective from a Vacuum Cleaner

After wrestling around with the vacuum cleaner for…well, TOO LONG, trying to reattach a random accessory that had fallen off, I resigned myself to the fact that the vacuum cleaner manufacturers hated me and wanted to make my life more complicated than necessary. Seriously, how difficult could it be to reattach a little vacuum brush?!?

Let me back up a few weeks and explain. We bought a new vacuum cleaner for our office that was beautifully equipped with every accessory a person could need: brushes, hose-extenders, fancy vacuum heads, etc. One of the first times I used it, I was interrupted and had hastily put it away. In doing so, I knocked off one of the attached accessories, and because I was in a hurry, I tossed it in the closet next to the vacuum and went on my merry way.

The next time I pulled out the vacuum, I spotted the little brush next to it. I studied the vacuum again, a little more closely this time, and still couldn’t find where the brush was supposed to go. Frustrated, I gave up, tossed the brush in the closet, and resumed vacuuming.

The little brush and I had a little game going at this point…each time I would spy it in the closet, I would glare at it and subconsciously curse it for complicating my life. I felt like a total blonde. This little brush was eating my lunch. Every time I opened the closet door, it just sat there on the shelf and mocked me. I felt like a super idiot for not being able to solve this seemingly simple issue.

Until now…I had had ENOUGH. I pulled the vacuum out of the closet, snatched the brush off the shelf and determined to figure out where it was supposed to fit. I knew the general area where I had initially seen it attached, but, honest-to-goodness, I could not find the secret anchor point! I tried to stick it on the arm where the cord wraps around…I tried the force it on the end of the hose-extender mounted on the side…I tried to balance it on top of the attachments on the front…I felt around for some sort of knob where I could mount this silly brush. It was starting to get the best of me!

After sighing with exasperation, I sunk to the floor to contemplate how I was going to destroy the brush and pretend it never existed.

…then I saw it!

Right beneath the hose and just above the wrapped cord on the back of the vacuum was a small circular indentation. One that closely matched the end of the brush. It was like finding the missing puzzle piece!! I plugged the end of the brush into the hole and was delighted when it fit perfectly!

As I sat there gloating in my victory…a thought came to mind. It was all about looking at the issue from a different angle. I had been hacking at the problem from one angle and everything I tried was failing. The solution was not discovered until I gave up trying to force things to happen my way and approached the issue from another angle.

This is a great life lesson. Simply finding a new perspective will result in a completely different outcome. It reminds me of the wise reasoning of Louis L’amour, a writer of fictional western stories. When a cowboy was in trouble, he would always “sit and contemplate.” In the story, the cowboy may be in a seemingly impossible situation, but he always took a moment to “contemplate” the problem and look at it from different angles to find the best solution.

Next time you are in a predicament, don’t destroy the brush! Stop. Take a moment, open your mind and look at the problem from a different position. New discoveries can be made by simply changing your perspective.

Written by Brittany Carrington

©2018 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC

Charity Spotlight: Operation Exfil

At Cremation Advocates by Putnam, we pride ourselves on being part of the community and giving back.  As such, we surprised Sandra Gaylon, the founder of Operation Exfil, with a surprise donation at our Open House and Ribbon Cutting on Friday, February 2, 2018, and challenged the community to help make her vision a reality.

Operation Exfil is a project in a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Packsaddle Fellowship, a registered 501(c)(3).  This allows the project to begin fundraising while building the organization.  The goal of Operation Exfil is to assist combat injured veterans and their families to find solace through rest and recreation activities.  While emphasis will be placed on those with PTSD, Operation Exfil will strive to serve all eligible combat injured veterans.  All retreats and services will be FREE to participating Veterans and their families.  What sets this organization apart is that we will serve the entire family, and not just the Veteran.

Operation Exfil is in the start-up phase.  A property has been identified and we have set our initial fundraising goal at $2 million.

To be a part of Operation Exfil’s Founders Society, or to volunteer, please contact Sandra Galyon at operationexfil@gmail.com; 317-86EXFIL (317-863-9345), or at PO Box 1934, Kingsland, TX 78639.  For more information, please visit www.OperationExfil.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/operationexfil/

#YODO

Although Drake popularized the term #YOLO (you only live once) in his song Motto that came out in 2011, Katherine Martin states that the term actually goes back to the 19th century.  So then it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that the flip slogan #YODO (you only die once), while also around awhile, started gaining popularity in 2014 and became the centerpiece of “Dying Matters Awareness Week” in the United Kingdom.  At that time studies indicated that @83% of the people in Britain were uncomfortable speaking about death.  But by something so simple as a hashtag, #YODO, awareness was raised to help people come to terms about dying and bereavement.  Since then, #YODO has been utilized by funeral homes and bereavement counselors as a marketing tool to raise awareness of their brand and offerings.

Cremation Advocates by Putnam currently has two #YODO billboards located between Burnet and Bertram on Hwy 29 and on Hwy 71 heading into Spicewood.  With the help of Tosh.0, it has started to go viral on Facebook.  As the Premier Area Funeral Home and Crematory, our purpose is to generate buzz around an uncomfortable topic and to remind our community that since you only die once, then choose Putnam to ensure that your funeral or cremation is done well.

Life Affirming Conversations

End of life conversations can be intimidating and difficult, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  In changing our perspective, we realize that in fact these are conversations that result in life affirming decisions.  By writing down our preferences, we control our right to choose what happens at the end.  Engaging in these conversations and decisions is an act of love, as you are ensuring that your family does not have to guess what you want when you are no longer in a position to communicate.  Making a plan, and engaging your family in it as you know best, will go far in reducing stress and anxiety when your loved ones have to make decisions that impact you.

So what kind of decisions?

Well, who will be your Medical Power of Attorney and/or your Statutory Durable Power of Attorney?  Have you created an Advanced Directive or an Out-of-Hospital DNR?  If you are not comfortable starting these conversations with your family, then you have another option – in 2016 Medicare approved payment for end of life conversations with your physician. Or, you can use the opportunity of holidays and evening dinners to organically start the conversation with your family by just asking what they envision taking place for themselves at the end of their life.

The same holds true with your wishes regarding your funeral.  Your Power of Attorney expires upon death.  Who will you appoint your Agent of Disposition?  Do you prefer cremation or burial?  These are also important discussions in which to involve your family.  Moreover, you can visit your preferred Funeral Home to document and/or prepay for your chosen services.

While you are alive and healthy, you get to make these choices.  Others can provide input, but it is ultimately your choice.  And by proactively making end of life decisions, you are affirming your life decisions and reducing the stress and anxiety that comes when family members do not know their loved ones preferences.

You Are Invited: Open House and Ribbon Cutting

Come join us at Cremation Advocates by Putnam to celebrate our first birthday – Friday, February 2, 2018 from 10:30-1. We will have catered food, music, a ribbon cutting ceremony, door prizes, and same day discounts on our Thumbies Thumbprint jewelry and memory glass keepsakes (which can be made with soil from your favorite residence or travel destination). Come see how Putnam is changing the face of funeral homes in Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Burnet and surrounding areas.

Commentary: Why you shouldn’t worry about bringing children to funerals

As published in the Chicago Tribune:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/parenting/ct-children-and-funerals-20150706-story.html

by Sharon Holbrook Washington Post July 6, 2015

My children’s great-grandfather passed away last week at age 90. Just as surely as we took our 9, 7, and 4-year-olds to visit him (though not enough — it’s never enough), we took them in hand to Great-Grandpa’s wake and funeral.

 Why?

My kids got to see their extended family at its best and closest: telling stories, crying and laughing together, holding hands. The family was a strong, united One over those days, and we were part of that One. My children belong to something bigger than our little family of five.

Children provide hope. Immediately before the funeral, we made our last prayers at the casket and gave Great-Grandma hugs. As my wide-eyed 4-year-old tumbled towards her for an embrace, Great-Grandma exclaimed, “Precious girl!” and she meant it. Sometimes we need to see something whole and young and perfect when there is sadness all around us, and that’s what a (well-behaved) preschooler can offer at a funeral.

They don’t need to be protected — usually. Kids know about crying. Many of them do it every day. Usually we want them to stop, because it’s uncomfortable for us, and we very badly want our children to be happy. But hard feelings are important too, and we can learn to guide kids through feeling sorrow and discomfort and coming out okay on the other side of those emotions. I would think carefully before bringing my children to an especially tragic funeral, perhaps one for a child or a young parent — something that could be truly frightening — but the funeral of an older relative? This sadness they can manage, and it will strengthen them.

They need practice with funerals. Nobody likes them, but they have to happen. Wakes and funerals can be foreign territory with their singular requirements for etiquette, dress, and behavior. Better to get practice early, when it’s someone the child isn’t as close to, than to layer a sea of funeral-manners confusion on top of truly deep mourning. Just a few months ago, my kids stopped with us at the wake of a quiet, kind man our family knew from church, just to quickly pay our respects. The children didn’t really know Elmer, but they learned what to do and say, and because we’d gone to his viewing, Great-Grandpa’s body wasn’t the first one they’d seen in an open casket.

Funerals connect generations, past and future. Great-Grandpa was a World War II veteran, and uniformed Navy came to his graveside and performed a beautifully moving flag ceremony. It ended with a presentation of the flag to Great-Grandma, and the heart-stopping words: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” Afterwards, I reminded my 9-year-old that in 80 years, he will be able to tell his grandchildren the story of honoring his great-grandpa who served in that important, tragic war that will then be 150 years past. He was just as awed as he should have been by this fact.

It’s not easy going to funerals, nor taking kids to them. But it is not our job to make our children’s lives easy, and it is our job to parent and guide through the hard things, too. You can do it, and so can they.

Sharon Holbrook is a writer living in Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her at sharonholbrook.com and on Twitter @216Sharon.

DIY Projects to Help Memorialize a Lost Loved One During the Holidays

When we talk about the “true reason for the season,” many of these reasons are steeped in holiday remembrance: Family traditions that have carried over generation to generation, stories of holiday pastimes that are told around the fireplace, and even meals and movies shared that carry a special significance.

So with so much remembrance surrounding this festive holiday, it’s no surprise that families want to make their loved ones a part of the celebration… especially if they may no longer be around to take part themselves.

Here are some crafts and DIYs to help you memorialize a lost loved one this holiday season.

1. Memorial Candle

Learn how to make gorgeous personalized candles with your favorite photo on them with an easy packing tape transfer. Easy handmade gift idea only takes about 15 minutes and costs just a few bucks!

Candles have a special place in memorialization. They help us feel as though we are actively honoring or celebrating someone, by lighting a candle in their memory. One way that you can help families feel this connection even further is by helping them create a personalized memorial candle with their loved one’s photo on it, or even one of their favorite quotes.

Click here for instructions.

2. ‘Save A Seat’ Sign

Help families feel as though their loved one is still very much a part of the Christmas festivities with a beautiful sign that calls on people to remember. This beautiful plaque reads: “Christmas in Heaven. What do they do? They come down to Earth to spend it with you. So save them a seat, just one empty chair. You may not see them, but they will always be there.

Click here for instructions.

3. Wooden Photo Ornaments

Photo Transfer Christmas Ornaments | landeelu.com Love this idea to display holiday memories on the Christmas tree!

Decorating the tree is one of the most important and memorable parts of the Christmas season. So why not help families make their loved ones a part of the decorating, even after they are gone. These simply to make photo ornaments are a beautiful addition to any Christmas tree, and help bring memorialization into the tree decorating process.

Click here for instructions.

4. Christmas Memories Wreath

picture frame memory wreath

Another great way to help families bring photos into their holiday decor is with a beautiful, one-of-a-kind photo wreath. This wreath could be made up solely of loved ones that families want to remember at Christmas time, or even of all of their favorite holiday photo moments – including photos with their loved ones around the Christmas tree or opening presents.

Click here for instructions.

5. Remembrance Stocking

It wouldn’t be Christmas morning without the opening of our Christmas stockings. Help families complete their family Christmas mantle display by creating a stocking that is truly representative of their loved one – because it is made with some of their favorite worn items! Encourage families to bring in their loved one’s favorite dress, jeans or even Christmas sweater, and help them make a personalized stocking that can hang on the fireplace for years to come.

Click here for instructions.

6. Christmas Shirt Pillow Cover

DIY Repurposed Shirt Pillow Cover

Speaking of ways to repurpose a loved one’s favorite clothing items, another great DIY that families can incorporate into their holiday decor is a Christmas Shirt Pillow Cover. This is an especially great craft to do with Grandpa’s or Dad’s favorite flannel or button-up shirt. You could even stick holly or pine cones into the pocket square to really help bring the Christmas spirit inside.

Click here for instructions.

7. Holiday Photo Luminaries

Easily make Picture Frame Luminaries with a few frames, glue and tea lights!

Bring light to the holidays ahead by helping families create beautiful picture frame luminaries, which work great as festive holiday decor or even as a personalized gift for others. Not only are these unique display pieces a wonderful way to brighten up the home around the holidays, but lighting these memorial luminaries would be a great activity for any family to add into into their Christmas Eve traditions.

Click here for instructions.

8. “A Few of My Favorite Things” Ornament

Learn how to make DIY Memorial Ornaments to help honor and remember loved ones who have passed. This project uses a loved one's old clothes and handwriting to create a Christmas ornament that will be cherished by anyone who is missing their loved one.

While we love the idea of a DIY photo ornament, like we mentioned above, a photo is not the only way to remember someone around the holidays. You could also make a wonderful ornament memento with some of their favorite items or pieces of clothing. In this tutorial, the author uses fabric shears from her late father’s different shirts and combines them all into a clear glass ornament to hang on her Christmas tree – complete with a personal note from her dad that she will always cherish.

Click here for instructions.

9. Night Before Christmas Pillow

This DIY Song Lyric Pillow is the perfect way to personalize any bed in your house. Visit cleverbloom.com for a full tutorial!

For many families, the sounds of Christmas are just as memorable and important as the sights and smells. Maybe it was a favorite Christmas story that you used to get read before bedtime, or a favorite holiday song that you would always listen to while baking cookies. No matter what words they may have been, help your families visualize them on a personalized pillow that they can lay their head on the night before Christmas.

Click here for instructions.

10. Holiday Card Book

Over our lifetime, many of us save up a nice collection of greeting cards, whether it’s for birthdays, holidays, weddings, you name it. But we never actually do anything with these cards, other than when we run across them while moving or cleaning out old boxes. With this DIY, help your families put sentimental holiday cards from their loved ones on display in a beautiful book that they will actually flip through and look at each holiday season.

Click here for instructions.

11. Sweater Letters

Brave Girls Club - 1 thrifted sweater - 23 projects! - XO Letters

One of our favorite ways to decorate for the holidays is to put some of our favorite festive sayings up around the house, like “Ho Ho Ho” or “Oh What Fun!” Help your families do the same – but with an extra special personalized touch, by adding some of their loved one’s favorite items onto the letters. This DIY is easy… simply grab something fabric that was special to a loved one (a blanket, a shirt, a stuffed animal, etc.) and cut out the shape of the letters you are creating. Next, just glue the fabric onto the letters. Voila! That’s it!

12. Year In Remembrance Video

Last but not least, you can celebrate, honor and remember your loved ones at Christmas time by putting together a beautiful Year In Remembrance video, set to a cozy winter theme. Whether you choose to do it yourself or use a local videographer (such as Matt Turner:  https://www.mattturnervideo.com/), this is a gift that will be treasured by all.

Tools to Help Document and Preserve Family Stories

With the apps and technology that exist today, it’s now easier than ever to record, remember, and memorialize your loved one’s life.

StoryWorth

StoryWorth is an award-winning tool for capturing the important details about a family’s history. You start by signing up and inviting other family members to join. Each week, StoryWorth will email a question or a writing prompt.

 

Some sample prompts include:

  • How did you get your first job?
  • What were your favorite toys as a child?
  • What is one of your favorite children’s stories?
  • Did you have a favorite teacher in middle school? What made them great?
  • What have you changed your mind about over the years?

The family members then respond to the prompt. Their story is shared with other family members who also have signed up. After a year of weekly stories, StoryWorth takes the responses and creates a personalized keepsake book. It’s a perfect way to capture the stories that most family members might never hear about.

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a mobile app that makes capturing memories easy. It also works without an internet connection, so you’re able to capture memories anywhere. The app has four main features — photos, stories, audio capture, and a family tree. You can snap a quick photo of important events, such as graduations, recitals, or a wedding and upload them to the app. FamilySearch then lets you write or voice-record descriptive stories about each photo and tag other family members.

 

The best part is that your memories are stored for free permanently in the FamilySearch vaults. The app also allows you to easily share your created memories on other social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram.

HistoryLines

HistoryLines is an app that helps you visualize your family’s past and puts it into a historical context. The app lets you start by uploading the stories, photographs, and memories of your ancestors. It then shows you an interactive timeline of important events surrounding the years of a family member’s life. It also includes an interactive map to show where they might have migrated from, as well as the culture of the society they lived in.

Twile

Twile is another tool that allows you to build your own family tree and timeline. You start by adding the details about your relatives to create a digital family tree. The app then instantly creates an interactive timeline from the family tree. From there, you can add and edit important special moments, such as births and weddings. The app lets you create a detailed timeline by letting you write your own story about each important event, as well as attaching an unlimited number of photos to each event.

 

Once you’re done creating your timeline, you can share it with relatives and encourage them to share their own memories.

Kindeo

Kindeo is a private social network. Think of it as a family-only Facebook. It lets you privately share stories, memories, and personal reflections with your close family members. It’s designed to be intuitive, so it’s easy to use for grandparents and grandkids alike.

TapGenes

TapGenes is a little different than the other tools on our list. It’s primarily focused on capturing and preserving information about family members’ health. The goal is to help assess health risk factors, create an outlook on future health, and help show how family members relate to one another on a genetic level. According to the TapGenes website, we all “inherit more than just culture, values, and looks from your family; you can also inherit genes that increase your chances of developing certain diseases. Knowing about conditions that run in your family can help you make healthy choices to prevent or lower your disease risk.”