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Save a Seat

Thoughts on Grief During the Holidays and Major Events by Jessamyn Putnam

The holidays are here, and whether it is your first holiday following the loss of a loved one or not, suffice it to say, this is usually a rough time of year for those grieving the loss of someone they loved.

So what do you do?  While there is no “one size fits all” approach, grief does not take a sabbatical at Christmas, or weddings, or birthdays.  First and foremost, allow yourself and others the right to grieve.  Everyone grieves differently, and instead of telling someone how to grieve, allow them the freedom to grieve in their own way and do not take it personally.  I have twin boys, and while identical, they grieve differently.  One acts out and says mean things, the other just cries and cries with very loud, heart-wrenching sobs.  I acknowledge their loss and give them space and forgiveness, while also allowing myself the opportunity to step away and cry my own tears.  We can also be hard on ourselves, but this is not the time.  We must give ourselves grace and space to grieve.  Stifling or denying grief leads to unresolved grief which can cause physiological problems and make you physically ill.

Recognize and commemorate your loved one by saving a seat.  Set a place at the table, include a favorite shirt on the chair, shoes on the floor, and/or photo on the place setting.  Your loved one might be physically gone but will remain ever present in your thoughts for some time to come.  Encourage family and friends to share their memories or stories.  While a loved one might no longer be with us, it is important to remember the good times, to laugh about funny things they said or did, and to acknowledge that he or she is missed.  Yes, there is a strong possibility of tears, but it is also a time for family bonds and bonds of friendship to grow stronger.

Know you are not alone.  Friends oftentimes do not know how to respond to someone grieving the loss of a loved one.  They would love for you to reach out and tell them what you need.  At the same time, it is important for friends to offer specific ways of assistance – cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, folding laundry, a cup of coffee.  Every day tasks can often feel overwhelming when someone you loved has died.  Lean on your churches, funeral homes, hospices, and social/service organizations as many offer grief programs and/or assistance with daily tasks.

Remember to breathe.  Take each day at a time.  And save a seat for the one you loved.

©2019 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory

What Is Your Motivation – Making Funeral Arrangements Out Of Love And Not Fear

What is motivation?  Motivation is used to describe WHY someone does something. Of course, there are a mountain of studies and theories, but simply stated, there are many different forces that guide and direct us.  If you look towards literature and the arts, you can simplify it even further.  From the bible to John Lennon, it appears as if “there are two basic motivating forces: fear and love.”

Let’s put this into perspective and think about weight loss.  Many people start their weight loss journey at their doctor or loved one’s urging to cure or improve a medical condition, thus potentially saving their life.  They are motivated by fear – fear of dying, fear of winding up in the hospital, fear of something that only loosing weight will solve.  However, once they reach their weight loss goal or receive a clean bill of health from their doctor, their motivation to lose weight and stay healthy is removed and many times, they revert to their unhealthy habits and regain the weight.  What has been found is that although fear can be an excellent motivator, especially following a life-threatening event, it is too uncomfortable and emotionally draining for us to stay in that mindset for very long.

In other words, fear is not sustainable.

But what happens when, while during their weight loss journey, people discover things that they love? Perhaps they can run and play with their kids without gasping for breath or without pain.  Perhaps their skin clears up.  Perhaps they like how they look in the mirror. What happens when they fall in love with the results of their weight loss and improved health?  When people replace their fear driven motivation with love driven motivation, then they are better able to sustain their weight loss and health.

In my role as a funeral director, I have seen a world of difference when someone makes funeral arrangements out of love rather than fear.  Typically, those who are motivated by love plan in advance, include their family or even their friends in their decisions, and think globally instead of selfishly.  On the other hand, I have seen those motivated by fear regret their decisions or make decisions based on prior negative experiences without understanding that funerals have changed and that their loved ones need some sort of ritual to build that positive foundation for grief.

So how can you approach death with love? At its simplest, by being prepared.  By writing down your wishes.  By securing payment for your funeral by purchasing life insurance, prepaying your funeral, or setting aside assets designated for funeral expenses.

You can also approach death with love by understanding that you do not know what you do not know and seeking out knowledge to make informed decisions. Knowledge is power and sharing knowledge is empowering. Did you know that in the state of Texas you can be buried within 24 hours, but it can take 2-10 days to have the legal authority to perform a cremation?  Or that some cemeteries will allow you to be buried without a casket? Or that a power of attorney expires upon death so if you do not have an authorized agent of disposition and your spouse has dementia or your biological children do not get along that your disposition might be determined in court? Or that you can have a meaningful service that does not include a church or a funeral home or a major expense?  Or that cremated remains can be made into bullets, tattoos, jewelry, coral reefs, paintings, or go into outer space?  Incomplete information creates false expectations and negative experiences.  Understanding the ins and outs of what happens when someone dies will enable and empower you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Finally, you can also approach death with love by being creative in ones preplanning approach and utilizing me as a resource and guide in helping you plan your final moments with love, so that your loved ones won’t have too.

So, what is your motivation?  When it comes losing weight, finding a new job, getting married, having a medical procedure, or even planning for life’s eventualities – what is motivating you to make the choices you made or are about to make?  Without motivation you simply cannot achieve anything.  The next time you admire someone’s accomplishment, including your own, it makes more sense to ask WHY they did what they did instead of HOW because, when the why is clear, the how is easy.

Modified from a speech given by Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event at the Vineyard B&B at Lost Creek Ranch on November 5, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Jessamyn Putnam.

Jessamyn Putnam at the Women Empowering Women event, pictured bottom row, second from the right.

Alignable Business Person of the Year – Jessamyn Putnam

Congratulations to Cremation Advocates by Putnam’s very own Jessamyn Putnam for being recognized as a role model and mentor for small businesses:

🏆 Marble Falls’ 2018 Small Businessperson of the Year Revealed! Posted by Chuck Casto on Mar 03, 2019

After two months of nominations and voting, we’re delighted to announce that there’s a winner for Marble Falls’ 2018 Small Businessperson of the Year! The winner is Jessamyn Putnam of Cremation Advocates by Putnam.

Competition criteria focused on local SMB role models, who are dedicated to helping other small business people succeed. After an extended round of nominations, top nominees advanced to the finalist stage, where local Alignable members voted for their favorite candidate.

Jessamyn Putnam believes that community involvement and mentoring only makes our community stronger.  She explains, “A strong community equates to strong businesses, therefore we must invest in our community if we would like our community to invest in us.”  Jessamyn is active in the Horseshoe Bay Business Alliance, Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce, Business Network International, Bertram Chamber of Commerce, Burnet Chamber of Commerce, the Llano Uplift Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Lambda Nu Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, the Interagency Committee on Elder Care, and actively volunteers and raises money for area charities, schools, and civic organizations.  Moreover, she is a sought after speaker and mentor and constantly seeks to create opportunities for educational opportunities that would benefit the Highland Lakes community, especially in the area of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and grief.

Interested in having Jessamyn as your group’s next speaker – then please call her at 830-798-8413 or email her at j@cremationadvocates.net.

Last Wishes with Jessamyn

Following her emotional experiences with loss, Michelle has created a series of podcasts to help others by discussing ways to plan for the inevitable and help the healing. Jessamyn Putnam joins her on Episode 2, entitled, “Last Wishes with Jessamyn,” in which last wishes and end-of-life planning are discussed.

Michelle lost her parents unexpectedly in a tragic car accident and then lost her brother following his battle with cancer.  Her journey taught her things that she wished she did not have to learn the hard way.  Therefore she created this podcast to help others discover what they should do in advance.  She believes that in order to live well, we must learn how to die well.  And her sincerest wish is that she can help others prepare for, and not be scared about preparing for, the inevitable.  Her podcast contains interviews with hospice, a funeral director, a pastor, and several people and organizations who can be involved with end-of-life decisions.  These podcasts are free and available to everyone.  When asked if this was part of her grief journey and a way for her to make meaning out of her loss, Michelle responded that yes it was.

After listening to the series, one hospice nurse stated, “This series of podcasts has given me a clear focus and I want to share these podcasts with so many more people!”

Remember, that in order to live well we must learn how to die well, and by learning from Michelle’s experience, maybe some of the stress and anxiety associated with end-of-life decision making will be reduced.  Death is never easy, but creating a plan for it now will go a long well to helping you and the ones you leave behind.

Last Wishes with Jessamyn 

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