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‘Tis the Season

This season is about Peace on Earth, but what about Peace of Mind?  Believe it or not, talking about, or even better, writing down your wishes about your care after you pass, can contribute towards one’s peace of mind, the issue is breaking through our unease when we confront the idea of death.

Ultimately the issue at the end of the day is that we do not know what we do not know.  It might seem easier to just to “let your family handle your arrangements” or to “just toss you to the curb.”  While in writing that seems harsh, people have been saying this to funeral directors for years.  The hard truth is that this approach fails, that this approach can cause emotional harm, financial issues, and create additional stress for those you leave behind.

Did you know that a Power of Attorney expires upon death, and if you did not leave written authorization, that it falls to your next of kin (a spouse with dementia, or biological children that were disinherited or can’t get along, or someone further removed from you) to make your funeral arrangements?  This can lead to days turning into weeks, sometimes month, and a judge making the decision – this can drain your family emotionally and the finances of your estate.  Or perhaps a disinherited biological child will step forward and make the choices that they want and choices that probably won’t mirror what you would have wanted.  Designating an “agent of disposition” will alleviate this quandary.

Did you know that cremation is more legalistic in the state of Texas than burial?  You can be buried within 24 hours and without a signed death certificate in the State of Texas.  However, there is a 48 hour waiting period for cremation, the doctor must sign the death certificate and has up to 10 days in order to do so, your immediate next of kin has to sign a cremation authorization, and depending on the county you die in, there could be other required permits.  This means that it can take 2-10 days, or even more, to be cremated, especially if your family disagrees as to burial or cremation.  And don’t forget that you must either be embalmed or refrigerated within 24 hours.  However, if you provide self-authorization in writing that you want to be cremated, then your next of kin does not need to sign a cremation authorization which has the potential to speed up the process.  And if you include your wishes on refrigeration or embalming, that also removes a decision from the shoulders of your grieving family.

In my experience, families that preplan give a huge gift to the ones they leave behind.  Now those family members might not want to wake up on Christmas Day to a stocking stuffed with prearrangements, but when the time comes to use them, they will understand and be immensely grateful.

Introducing Grief Therapy Dogs In Training – Anubis & Anput

Meet Anubis and Anput, the newest members at the Putnam family of Funeral Homes – Bertram Funeral Home, Cremation Advocates by Putnam in Marble Falls, and Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC in Kingsland.  Anubis and Anput are in training to become grief therapy dogs.  Their initial training includes acclimating to various people and situations and as such, they will be rotating between the three Funeral Homes.  Anubis has already shown his aptitude as a grief therapy dog as he will sit next to anyone feeling uptight or grieving and rest his head in their lap.  Anput, on the other hand, prefers to sleep most of the day.  As the entire training process can take 1-2 years depending on the dog, a facebook account has been created to allow people to follow their journey – https://www.facebook.com/anubisandanput/.  At the end of their training, we expect Anubis and Anput to be available for pre need and at need funeral planning, visitations, celebrations of life, services, and for community outreach.

The Alliance of Therapy Dogs provides more information about how therapy dogs offer comfort at funeral services at www.therapydogs.com.  Accordingly, “therapy dogs allow those grieving to receive some comfort and relieve their stress and anxiety for a bit. This is especially true for grieving children who may not be comfortable talking about their feelings with adults. Therapy dogs give them someone to talk to and comfort them during an emotional and confusing time. Death is difficult enough for many adults to understand, let alone trying to make some sense of it for children.

Not only do therapy dogs provide comfort, they also help improve overall mental and physical health. Petting a therapy dog increases serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain, which improves our mood by lowering stress, anxiety, and depression. Petting a therapy dog also lowers blood pressure and helps those who are feeling lonely, which could be the case for someone who lost a loved one.

Therapy dogs have the innate ability to sense a person’s emotional needs and act on them with unconditional love. Since those who are grieving may experience many of these emotions, therapy dogs make the perfect companion to help ease anxiety and confusion of death. It can simply be the therapy dog’s presence that distracts from stress and grief, even if for a moment or two. The power of a therapy dog to change the mood of a room is amazing, and funeral directors are discovering how to promote healthy healing in people who are grieving the death of a loved one.

According to Jessica Koth, public relations manager for the National Funeral Directors Association, “Therapy dogs have an amazing ability to put people at ease in a very emotional and difficult situation,” Jessica says. “I’ve heard of families coming into a funeral home to make arrangements for a loved one’s funeral, and when the therapy dog comes into the room, the mood changes and the family begins to open up and share their loved one’s story so the funeral director can help them understand how to plan a meaningful funeral. She adds that some funeral homes also use their therapy dogs in the grief support groups they offer.”

Anubis and Anput are rescued Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix puppies who are very laid back and gentle.

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 

Event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry

CelesteCare of Horseshoe Bay is hosting a community wide event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry – Providing the information you need to be a better informed consumer – on Thursday, September 7 at 6pm at 26409 East Highway 71, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657.  Chris and Jessamyn Putnam have been invited to speak about the difference between prearranging vs. preneed; planning, ordering, and recording your personal affairs; documenting the memories of your loved one to share; and learning how Life Insurance impacts Medicaid.  This seminar is part of Putnam’s community service initiatives as we believe that a well-informed funeral home customer is an empowered funeral home customer.  All highland lakes residents are invited to attend (This includes, but is not limited to, residents of Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Spicewood, Burnet, Bertram, Granite Shoals, Tow, Llano, Kingsland, Cottonwood Shores, Meadowlakes, Buchanan Dam, Highland Haven, Bluffton, Smithwick, etc.)

Putting Your House in Order

Preparing for death is not something most of us want to do.   We know it is inevitable, but sometimes we hope that it won’t happen or we just choose not to think about it.  The thing is though, that if we do not put some sort of order to our affairs before we die, then we are forcing those we love to put order to possible chaos at one of their most vulnerable and emotional moments, potentially creating an unnecessary hardship or worsening the grief they feel.

Some things to consider:

  1. Make a will and select an executor who is trustworthy and will use sound judgement in making decisions.
  2. Create a record of personal affairs that lists contacts and relevant account information for your attorney, CPA, financial advisor, realtor, executor, banks, insurance, retirement, credit cards, debt, property owned, safe deposit box, automobile registration, etc.
  3. Sign and notarize a written authorization stating whether you want to be cremated or buried and with which Funeral Home (if already selected). On another page, provide information (if applicable) on cemetery plot, disposition of ashes, service or celebration of life requested (church, synagogue, funeral home, or other), and what music, readings, photos, videos, etc. you might want utilized.
  4. Provide biographical information such as education, religious affiliation, employment history, fraternal, service, social, and/or union membership, boards served on, positions held, special recognition, family information (next of kin, children, etc) and/or your veteran’s service record, as this information will be needed for the death certificate, veteran’s benefits, and/or an obituary.

Whether you feel overwhelmed or are ready to act – call or email us at Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory in Kingsland, TX (325-388-0008, staff@putnamcares.com) or Cremation Advocates by Putnam in Marble Falls (830-798-8413, staff@cremationadvocates.net) – to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can help your loved ones tomorrow by being proactive today.