Telling the Story of Those Who Served

Written by Brittany Carrington,  Life Tribute Specialist.

Although I have not yet experienced the personal loss of someone serving in the U.S. military, I have been touched by those who have. Today on Memorial Day, join me in honoring the life of Lance Corporal Travis Desiato.  Please utilize the comments section to share the stories of other military members we have lost and honor those who have served.

Travis was a humble guy who didn’t like attention, but preferred meaningful one-on-one conversations where he could look a person in the eye. He was a team player. Whether in sports or military exploits, his concern was not for himself, but for the team.

Travis’ decision to join the Marines was born of his team spirit, love for his family and country and a long-time passion for helping others. According to Sam Mendales, a family friend, ”He believed the best way to serve his family and community was to enlist in the Marines.”  Following his outstanding performance in boot camp, he was offered an opportunity to serve on presidential duty. However, he turned it down in pursuit of his desire to serve in Iraq. “He felt most needed in Iraq,” Mendalez said.

He left behind his new wife and beloved parents and siblings to embark on a courageous journey to serve his country.

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Desiato was killed by enemy action on November 15, 2004, at the age of nineteen while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During this time, the Americans, Iraqis and British had joined forces to defeat the Iraqi Insurgency stronghold in the city of Fallujah. The battle, known as the Operation Phantom Fury or the Second Battle of Fallujah, took place in November-December of 2004. It was led by the U.S. Marine Corp and has been noted as the bloodiest battle of the whole war.

Before his departure into the Marines, Travis instructed his family that, if he did not return, they were to tell people that “he did his job.”

Thank you, Travis, for doing your job to protect and honor my country. You courageously fought for the American cause and gave the ultimate sacrifice. You are a true American Hero.

Because of Travis, we can all have a greater appreciation for Memorial Day and what it represents: love, sacrifice, and freedom, and most importantly…heroism.

I can think of no better way to conclude this blog than with the words of his sister, Vanessa Desiato:

“The military made my brother become the man he was meant to be. He wanted to help people and did that by joining the Marines, the only thing he felt he needed to do. My brother has shown me what dedication, honor, and respect are. He has shown me what it means to be a hero.

To me, Memorial Day is the day we remember what it means to be a hero. Heroism is deeply rooted in the soldiers we say goodbye to with our tear-stained faces, and those we welcome home with those happier tears. Memorial Day is the day we thank those who did not get the joyous homecoming, or have since been laid to rest. It is the day we remember the heroes who gave everything for the soldiers serving next to them and the people they left at home.

Memorial Day is a day we are reminded of what combat veterans have given to this country, whether it’s years of service, the first year of their marriage, or their lives. Every combat veteran has given something to this country, without asking for anything in return. Memorial Day is a day to remember these men and women for who they are: heroes, who did their job.”



“What Memorial Day means to Me” by Vanessa Desiato

“Bedford Marine, 19, is killed in Fallujah” by Jack Encarnacao

Betty Lee Hollingsworth Haire

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.

Victor McCuller

Mary Katherine Fogle


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.

Robert Carroll Fry

Getting it Right