2018-09-26: “The Challenge Part 2”

Last week I wrote in my musings that I was going to challenge you and make you think about some of the things that can happen or things that can happen differently when it comes to funerals.

Probably the most common question that gets raised is cremation vs burial.  Is it less expensive to be cremated?  The answer is that it can be.  The cost of a funeral is largely dependent on the kind of services you want and the purchases that you make.

Certainly, the most inexpensive service is the one where cremation takes place and the ashes are returned to the family to do what they choose.  In that case there is no visitation, no service, no flowers and no cemetery costs.  If you want to have a gathering, it can take place in your back yard, at a restaurant or on a beach.  As I have pointed out before, while many people think that it is illegal to scatter ashes, it is not.  The key point though is scattering which can take place on any crown land or in any crown water.  You need to ask permission if you want to scatter ashes on private property.  You cannot bury an urn anyplace other than a cemetery.  If you bury an urn in the woods someplace and someday someone comes across it, an attempt to find the owner will take place and the urn will be returned to you.

When it comes to cremation vs burial, it is possible to have the exact same services and, in that case, the difference would come with the cemetery costs.  To explain that, whether you chose cremation or burial, you can use the same casket, you can have the same visitation, the same funeral service, buy the same flowers, have the same luncheon etc.  The difference would be that when you go to the cemetery to inter a casket you need a cement vault and with an urn you do not so you save there.  Also, to open a grave for a casket in a cemetery operated by Chatham-Kent, the cost (including tax) is $1297.75 compared to a cremation opening which is $423.87  Also, in each grave you can inter one casket plus two cremations or if there is no casket, you can inter four cremations.

Cremation continues to become more and more popular.  This year, approximately 70% of the funerals completed here have involved cremation and the majority of those cremations have not included going to a cemetery.  Sometimes families choose for the most inexpensive service because that is what the person who died really wanted.  Any funeral home can help you with that…we all offer the simplest of services to the most involved services.  The choice is yours.

Until next week,


2018-09-19: “The Challenge”

As a funeral director, I do my very best to make a funeral service whatever it is that a family needs it to be.  I’ve said before that we have thrown away the rubber stamp funeral and embraced the thought that there aren’t any rules anymore (except for the legal ones).  Every family is different and every life that has been lived is different so my advice to you is that if you follow your heart, you will have no regret.

Personalization seems to have become a key word in the funeral industry now.  I believe that personalization is a great thing, but just remember that it doesn’t need to come with a big price tag.

Let me give you this analogy:  when you buy a new car, you give a lot of thought to what you need vs what you want.  When I was a kid, there was a choice between a Chevrolet Biscayne, Bel Air or Impala.  In 1963 those cars would have run between $2322 – $3170 depending on the model and accessories that you chose (or how you personalized it).  An interesting fact though is in terms of production, about 61% of the Chevy’s produced that year were the higher end model.  So even though a Biscayne would have gotten you to the same place, consumers showed that they would prefer getting to that place in an Impala.  I don’t know if that was because they really wanted to drive an Impala or whether it was the fact that most of their neighbours had Impala’s sitting in their driveways and they felt that they needed to do the same.

Over the next two or three weeks I am going to challenge you and make you think.  As I said, I am all for personalization.  In fact, I often ask families what we can do to make a funeral a reflection of the life that was lived instead of the rubber stamp funeral of days gone by.  But there are things that you can do yourself to personalize a funeral without making it cost a lot more.  Stay tuned!



2018-08-12: Last Part of “Breaking the Bad News to Children”

This is the final week for Breaking Bad News To Children…so far we have covered:

  1. Wait Until You Have The Complete Story
  2. Faith and Fibs
  3. Use Age Appropriate Language
  4. Allow Time For Grief
  5. Share Bad News Together
  6. Choose The Right Moment
  7. Leave The Conversation Open

The following three are the last of the guidelines that Dr. Bill Webster discusses:

8. Consider The Child’s Perspective: It’s pretty safe to say that if you are delivering bad news to a child, that you will be hurting as well. Don’t dismiss any of the things a child says as nonsense. It may be a big deal to your child that Grandpa’s watch also died a few months ago but they got a new battery and it worked again. The child may be thinking that there’s a solution to death. And even if you can’t figure out what the logic is to the things they are asking about, at least you are there and you are listening. Don’t write off behaviours as callous or self-centered especially in teenagers. There is a reason for every reaction and you need to figure out the why’s of behaviours before you can figure out the how’s to help.

9. Go Ahead And Cry: Expressing your emotions gives another person permission to do the same. Crying is perfectly okay. And children learn from their parents so they will understand too that crying is okay. Just as learning that crying is okay, you can also be the role model to show that there comes a time when you are able to talk about the situation and not cry. Sometimes there comes a point that you need to save those tears for times you are with friends or when you are alone.

10. Apply Distraction Carefully: While distractions may serve their purpose by softening the news and letting the child absorb what you are saying in small doses, keeping them too busy so that they don’t have time to adjust to a loss or work through their grief is not good. I guess it would be like an adult being over medicated during the initial stages of grief…once the medication wears off, the loss is still there waiting to be worked through.

To learn more about Dr. Bill Webster, visit www.griefjourney.com

Until next week,


2018-09-05: Part Two of “Breaking Bad News to Children”

Last week I started talking about Dr. Bill Webster’s information regarding 10 guidelines for telling children bad news. So far I covered:

  1. “Wait Until You Have The Complete Story”
  2. “Faith and Fibs”
  3. “Use Age Appropriate Language”.

Following these come:

4. Allow Time For Grief: Despite your readiness to move on, don’t rush your child. Grief may be a new emotion and he/she may need more time to work through being able to express that. Make sure that children understand that it’s okay to feel the way they are feeling; that anger is just as normal as sadness and that crying is good. If you are concerned about your childs coping through behavioural issues or plunging grades in school, don’t hesitate to seek help. Remember that sometimes the quiet child who seems to have adjusted more quickly may be the one who needs the most help letting go.

5. Share Bad News Together: It’s a good idea to tell bad news together with your partner or other family members. First, it is a comfort to you to be in the company of people who support and love you and second, this will ensure that everybody gets the same message. It is best to tell children together when the bad news involves a death or a separation that is in the works.

6. Choose The Right Moment: Although there is no good time to share bad news, if it’s possible you might wait until the end of the day. The dinner table or gathering together after dinner is best; that way it hasn’t ruined the entire day for the child. Also, after you have shared the information and everything is winding down for the day you can spend some individual time with each child and reassure them that you will still be there.

7. Keep The Conversation Open: Being able to discuss the situation at any time with your child is invaluable. Your child may come back in an hour or in a week to ask more questions. Let them know that’s okay, and make sure you mean it.

Next week I will finish the three final guidelines…


2018-08-29: Part One of “Breaking the Bad News to Children”

I read an article written by Dr Bill Webster about how to break bad news to children. In his article, he gives ten guidelines so this week will be part one of three. You can learn more about Dr. Webster at www.griefjourney.com

These are the first three guidelines he talks about:

  1. Wait until you have the complete story: Sometimes kids have a tendency to fill in the blanks with their imagination that paints a much darker picture than the reality. Giving them the whole story is the best way to present the bad news. However, waiting too long to tell them the bad news can be detrimental as well, so be careful.
  2. Faith and Fibs: Try to avoid making up facts or sharing things that you hope are facts and don’t fabricate the truth. Dr Webster talks about a lady who tried to comfort her daughter after her cat died by telling her that God wanted another cat in heaven to which the girl wondered why God would want a dead cat. Maybe it would have been better to say that the cat was sick and died so that it wouldn’t hurt anymore. Be careful after the death of a pet by trying to replace wat was lost…a child may be confused about how to respond to a new pet while grieving for the pet that died. Also, be careful about clichés like “grandma went to a better place” because children may wonder what they did to make this place so miserable that grandma felt she would be better off someplace else.
  3. Use Age Appropriate Language: You would use different language telling a four year old the same news that you would tell a ten year old because using terms they don’t understand would leave them confused. Use simple terms and clear explanations. For a child up to five years old, make them feel safe by holding them on your lap or talk to them on their bed…their safe places. Try to be calm and roll with their reactions. Many young children really can’t grasp the realities of death or divorce. If you say that Mommy is gone, they will think that she is gone but she’ll be back. And so their reactions may be more like “okay…can we go to the park and play”?

More next week,Marc 

2018-07-18 “Local Events”

There are a couple of exciting weekends coming up in the area…

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday is the annual Blenheim Cherryfest, an event that is put on every year through the Blenheim BIA. In addition to all of the planned events that we try to make happen each year, this year we are going to try to set a world record and get Blenheim into the Guinness World Records!

The record for the most people simultaneously spitting cherry pits is currently set at 250 people. We are going to try and break that record. It’s free to do…all you need to do is come between 11:00 – 11:45 on Saturday July 21st, print your name, age and where you live on a list and spit a pit! Any age can do it and it doesn’t matter how far you spit, even if you hit yourself in the feet! We’ll snap some pictures and then send all of the names and pictures as evidence off to Guinness and wait for their confirmation. It will take place right at Cherry Central downtown Blenheim! Come on out and show your community spirit!!

Next Saturday July 28th is the Shrewsbury Ribs & Blues Festival which goes from 3:00 – 10:00 p.m. Last year was the first year that Gail and I went to the festival and we are sure to return this year! There will be a lot of awesome music and food for all who attend. It is a licensed event so you have to be at least 19 years of age to enter. The proceeds of this event will be put toward the Shrewsbury Community Centre as vital funding to maintain and improve the Community Center and preserve the heritage of Shrewsbury. Tickets can be purchased in Blenheim at Westside Performance and Blenheim Decorating Centre, in Chatham at HIP Entertainment and Book Brothers, in Ridgetown at Kakoon Spa, in Shrewsbury at Shrewsbury Baits or online at www.shrewsburyribsandblues.com

See you at both!


2018-07-11 “Urns”

To buy an urn or not buy an urn…that is the question!

If you’ve opted for cremation, the decision to purchase an urn is a personal choice…there’s no rule that says you need to. After cremation, the remains are placed inside a plastic bag which is then placed into a container quite like the one pictured here.

Of all the cremation interments I have been a part of, the black plastic container has been what has been placed into the ground more times than not. There is no rule at the cemetery as to what an urn is so we have had things like a fishing tackle box and a tea pot. We have also had times when a family has placed the cremated remains directly into the ground without any container. The choice is yours.

Because urns can be shipped the following day and because there are literally thousands of urns to choose from, we don’t carry many. Instead, we give families catalogues to look through and they can choose whichever urn they like. Sometimes they choose to have an urn engraved which means that it needs to be ordered anyways. Companies that sell urns are really quite accommodating.

If your choice is to have cremation followed by a service but your choice would be to not purchase an urn, we have a maple urn with a cherry finish here that we allow families to use free of charge. It allows you to have something more for the visitation, funeral or interment service without the cost of purchasing an urn.

You can also make your own urn or purchase something that you would like to use. Just keep I mind that the size of a standard urn is approximately 220 cubic inches.

Urn vaults are available when you inter cremated remains in a cemetery but at this point they are not required.

If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to call. I always say that there is no such thing as a silly question.


2018-07-04 “Cherry Fest”

My daughter Lynn turns 37 on July 12th which means that Cherry Fest in Blenheim will be just a few days away. What that also means is thirty seven years ago I took my Kodak Instamatic camera (the one with the cube light bulb that turned a quarter turn each time you used it) and took the first pictures of my baby girl. I was excited to get the pictures developed and back then Gervason’s in Blenheim that was one of the first places in the area that had next day picture developing so I brought my film there for processing. I told Gail that I had a surprise for her and we drove to Blenheim…looking back she probably thought that I was going to buy her a new ring or something because when I got back to the car with the developed pictures she looked at me kind of funny. Well, I was excited anyways and it has been a wonderful 37 years being a dad and a grandfather (we are expecting our third grandchild in February! Yay!)

I remember coming to the “sidewalk sales” in Blenheim as a kid and getting some new shorts for my week at camp. One time I got these shorts that were baby blue pin stripes and the shirt matched. I also got a white belt and North Star running shoes…I was so ahead of my time! I don’t remember so much the rides, but our mission would have been camp clothes anyways so it may or may not have been different back then.

In the past few years since I have been the Chair of the Blenheim BIA, I’ve been able to see the huge amount of work that goes into Cherry Fest. A huge thank you goes out to all of the people who make the event what it is…especially Pete Laurie, Nancy Horak and JP Huggins to name a few. On top of that, there are a lot of other people who help make Cherry Fest what it is. I’m sure that everyone at Trinity Anglican Church has been busy making and baking pies. Hopefully the weather holds out this year and everybody has a good time!


Until next week,