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Grief Articles


The Truth About Emotional Intelligence

(category: Grief, Word count: 428)
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There is so much emphasis on emotional intelligence these days that it appears that people are suppressing their emotions and problems in an effort to "fit in," to keep their jobs, and using "positive self-talk" to muscle through the rough spots in their lives.

Recently, I had a friend over who has suffered enormous job stress during a time when his wife's father was dying of cancer. Of course, quitting his job didn't seem like an option during this difficult period, particularly since his wife returned to her parental home for many months to say good-bye to her dying father. That left him at home to take care of their children, pay the bills, and so on. Who can forge positively into a new job-search with all that going on?

After his father-in-law passed away his wife returned home and he lost his job - as did many of his colleagues - and his wife decided she no longer wanted to remain married. What else could go wrong? OH! Of course! His father could be diagnosed with cancer: He was.

Now he is living a complete hell, with all of this turmoil, and two sweet children looking to him for stability. Is it any wonder that people are cracking under the strain?

He is all alone and he tries to be "emotionally together" but that only causes more harm than good. We (society), in our need for order and stability, don't want people with all these problems in our lives. We don't want them working in our office. They're broken!

Well, the truth is, our (society) expectations around emotional intelligence, and together, full-functioning adults, is what is breaking them.

I spent three hours with him the other night, acknowledging his horrific circumstances, his emotional turmoil, and gave him permission to embrace it all. He's not broken, he's experiencing emotional pain and it needs to be expressed, embraced, and worked through (processed.) It's not enough that he embrace it either. Community is required to surround, love, heal, and regenerate.

So, when we see hurting people, don't look at them as broken people who haven't got their act together. Look at them as someone who needs a bit of kindness, generosity, and loving support. Watch the power those simple things can have in their life.

Caveat: This does not condone people remaining disempowered victims for the rest of their lives. Our role is to embrace and still to empower, leaving the "wounded one" to take responsibility for their recovery. Embrace, love, and challenge.

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Ten Ideas For Creating A Memorial After The Funeral Or Life Celebration

(category: Grief, Word count: 498)
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Below you will find many memorial and remembrance ideas that you can use to keep the memory of your loved one alive. After the funeral, memorial service or life celebration many people wish to have something permanent as a reminder of the person that they loved and lost. It may help to think about what was important to the person you lost. What did they value? What made them smile? Perhaps by beginning there, the appropriate memorial will present itself. Here are 10 ideas that may help to guide you.

- You can plant a tree in their memory. You can find tree seedlings on the internet. You could also buy a tree at a local nursery.

-Have your love one's photo placed on a stamp. This also would be ideal for the thank you notes you will be sending for the flowers, donations and the help you will be receiving. Get more information here http://photo.stamps.com/PhotoStamps/learn-more/. On the anniversary of their death or on their birthday, consider sending a card or a memorial gift to close friends and relatives.

- Donate a memorial bench, if they loved golf, their favorite golf course may welcome the donation of a memorial bench. You may also consider purchasing a plaque or a brick in their name to help fund a community project.

- Have a star in the sky named after your loved one.

- Plant a section in the garden each year with their favorite flowers, you also may want to add a stepping stone or rock with their name on it in their special section of the garden. Consider each year sharing flowers from that section of the garden with the family and friends of your loved one.

- Start a college scholarship in their name.

- Create a video or DVD from photos and video or movie clips. This video can be played at family gatherings and on the person's birthday or anniversary of their death. You can also easily make copies to share with close friends and relatives.

- Create a book of memories for the deceased's family. Have friends and family write on note cards and include the note cards with photos in the book. You may also want to include newspaper articles about the deceased, the obituary etc.

- Create a memorial on the web - there are several websites that allow loved ones to memorialize the deceased through video, pictures, and voice recordings.

- Keep a journal of your memories, your thoughts and what you learned from your loved one.

Dealing with a loss of a loved one is so difficult. It's important to do what brings you peace-of-mind. Focusing on a memorial may help you through the grief process and allow you to focus on the unique and positive aspects of your loved ones life and how that life can be remembered and celebrated for years to come.

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Online Memorials Sharing Family History And Life Stories Online

(category: Grief, Word count: 516)
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We all want to live a life that has an impact on the people around us and the family that comes after us. Often times the best way to learn about those around us, our family history and those people that shaped our lives, is by reading their life story. So much can be learned by reading someone's obituary but that sometimes only scratches the service of how a person lived, what they loved and how much they were loved. An online memorial can help keep a memory alive and help you celebrate the life of a love one.

An online memorial website is more creative than an obituary and is a great way to share memories and celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us. You can spend minutes, hours or days creating an online memorial for someone you knew and loved. There are many online services that are designed specifically to host such tributes. To get the most out of a life story page, find one where you can share memories, photos, videos and access it from anywhere in the world.

Creating a life story page is simple. It does not take any special computer skills or expensive equipment to put one together. The virtual memorial that you create should remain online for an indefinite period of time. This allows friends, family and even future generations to view the memorial and leave their own personal tributes and condolences. Many services do allow online memorials to be created and password protected, for added privacy.

Grieving over the death of someone you loved is one of the most difficult and emotionally wrenching experiences you will go through in your lifetime. To truly move on from such a powerful and devastating experience, each person must find what allows them to move through their grief. Many activities and coping techniques are found to work for people, but each person will need to find a way to do so in a way best suited for them.

By providing a place of remembrance for a loved one, a virtual memorial can give the strength to be able to heal and move forward with our lives. When becoming overwhelmed by an emotion, whether it is sadness, regret, guilt, or even happiness at certain memories, visiting an online memorial to the deceased can help. These sites host information about family history, anecdotes about your loved one's life and pictures of key moments you shared with them. Remembering these things and spending a moment appreciating the times you did spend with them can have a significant effect on your mood and overall long-term healing.

We all create a life story we hope will live on after we are gone and effect generations after us. By writing these stories down for family, friends and sometimes strangers to read, acknowledge and appreciate, we are ensuring that a loved one's life lives on after death. We all want to celebrate the people who have made a lasting impression on us.

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How To Scatter Cremated Remains Ashes

(category: Grief, Word count: 973)
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You may envision going out to a beautiful spot and scattering your loved ones remains. While this can be a beautiful, ceremonial and a very healing way of returning a loved one to nature, it can also be a disaster. The following guidelines, will make the experience a positive one and make the final wish of your loved one, "I just want my ashes to be scattered" to come true.

To begin, often the word "ashes" is used to describe cremated remains. The media portrays it as light ash. The reality is the remains are bone fragments that have been mechanically reduced. They normally don't gently flow into the air. It is more like heavy sand That being said there is some dust or ash that can blow in the wind, so when scattering cremated remains make sure to check the wind so they don't blow back in people's faces or onto a boat.

You will also want to consider the legal requirements to scatter remains. In no state is it legal to scatter remains on private property without permission from the property owner. Many parks also have rules and permit requirements so you will want to check into the requirements.

If you do plan on scattering the remains, many people are choosing to keep some of the remains in a keepsake container or mini urn. Some people feel they still want a part of the person and sharing the cremated remains is a way to still have a part of the person with you. Keep in mind, you will want to make sure the partial remains are in a sealed plastic bag inside the keepsake or mini urn. A funeral director can handle this for you. Many products are also available such as diamonds that are made out of the remains, jewelry that is designed to hold the remains or hand blown glass paper weights.

Techniques for Scattering

Casting

Casting is a way of scattering where the remains are tossed into the wind. As I mentioned previously, you will want to check the direction of the wind and cast the remains downwind. Most of the remains will fall to the ground and some of the lighter particles will blow in the wind forming a whitish-grey cloud.

One person in the group may cast the remains or scatter some and hand the container to the next person so everyone has a chance to ceremonially cast the remains. Another option is people are given paper cups or casting cups and they cast simultaneously in a sort of toasting gesture.

Trenching

Trenching is digging a hole or trench in the ground or sand and the remains are placed into the trench. The remains can be placed directly into the trench or placed in a biodegradable bag or urn. At the end of the ceremony survivors often rake over the trench. A deceased name can be drawn in the dirt or sand- perhaps inside of a heart. The remains could also be placed inside this name and heart. You may consider taking a photo of this for a memory book. If done at the beach, it can be timed that the tide comes in and ceremoniously washes it out to sea. Family and friends may want to join hands and form a circle. If not too windy, candles may also form a circle around the site. The candles are then given to each person as a keepsake.

Raking

Raking involves pouring the cremated remains from an urn evenly on loose soil and then raking them into the ground at the conclusion of the ceremony. It is important to keep the urn close to the ground when pouring out the remains due to wind. Survivors may wish to take turns raking the remains back into the earth. If you choose to do this at a scattering garden at a cemetery this is how they will perform the scattering.

Green Burial

This is done either at a "Green Cemetery" or at a traditional cemetery. Often cemeteries will allow you to place a biodegradable bag or biodegradable urn on top of a gravesite or a family member as long as it is buried. Obviously, you will want to check with the cemetery and see what their requirements are.

Water Scattering

Water scattering involves placing the remains into a body of water. A biodegradable bag or urn is recommended. This is most often when cremated remains can blow back into a person's face or get washed up onto the side of the boat. Both experiences can be traumatic and not the everlasting peaceful memory you envisioned. If you search on the internet or in the phone book you can find people that have boats and are experienced. There are urns on the market designed to gently float away and then quickly biodegrade into the water. Many people throw rose petals or flowers into the water after the urn. If the remains are in a biodegradable bag they may sink so you also may wish to throw a wreath of flowers into the water and watch the wreath drift away.

Air Scattering

Air scattering is best performed by professional pilots and air services. The airplanes are specially designed to handle the cremated remains. Some professionals will arrange for family and friends to be on the ground watching as the plane flies over and a plume of remains can be seen from the ground. If survivors are not present, the service will provide the specific time and date of the aerial scattering. Often it can be arranged that close family and friends fly along.

While scattering cremated remains can be emotionally very difficult, hopefully by knowing your options and being informed it will make a difficult time a little easier.

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Life Trumps Death

(category: Grief, Word count: 585)
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Do you ever ponder the meaning of life? Why are we here? Perhaps these questions surface when we receive news we'd rather not receive, the passing of an uncle, a beloved aunt, a friend's spouse who died for the wrong reason. I'm not sure I believe myself when I justify the news by saying this is the circle of life.

I don't make a habit of reading the obituary columns in the newspaper but occasionally I read about strangers. Many have experienced a long and full life, contributed to society in a meaningful way, were visible within their community. I think how proud their family must be, I also imagine the hurt and grief they are experiencing. I read about the 42-year old father who has succumbed to cancer and leaves behind a wife and two children and I wonder how this is fair. My heart aches when I read about the young child tragically killed in an accident as my eyes fill with tears.

I'm no stranger to death. It scares me and I don't deal well with it. I find death emotionally overwhelming. It is hurt, compassion, sadness, pain, empathy, love all rolled together that hits like a tsunami.

I've lost high school friends to accidents, drugs, and disease. I've seen first hand the impact on a family when their young daughter took her own life. Like so many others, I have said goodbye to relatives only after they have gone.

I don't know why I'm so impacted by death. Its not that I think about it all the time. Maybe I subconsciously fear the loss of a parent, a sibling, a family member. Perhaps I'm selfish, a coward who doesn't want to die.

Young people seldom think of death, they are to busy living life as if they are invincible. Old people tend to prepare for death and accept the event as a natural and inevitable occurrence. Experience and reality have tempered their emotions. The grief and hurt is still there, so is the reflection on the positive aspects of the individual's life. For some, their biggest worry is if they will out live their friends, who will attend their funeral.

Maybe this aging process will help me to become less sensitive to the loss of not only those I love, but to those I have only read about in the newspaper. I am thankful my fear of death is more than offset by my passion for life. So it should be.

So where does this discussion of death take us? It could be to the end of a journey, or the beginning of a new one depending on your beliefs. If you were to have a tombstone, what would it read? Here we are back to the question, what is our mission, our purpose, our goal? One accolade might read, "Here lays an honest person who cared about the people around her, respected others and made a positive difference in the lives of everyone she encountered." If we envision how we want others to remember us, it might provide a valuable compass to aid us down the path of life.

In a perfect world, perhaps caring and understanding might extend well beyond our community and our country. Imagine a common bond based on a desire for truth, justice, peace, and mutual respect.

We can't do a lot about death. We can very much impact life - our own and others.

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When You Cannot Attend A Memorial Service Writing A Condolence Letter Can Help

(category: Grief, Word count: 315)
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Condolence letters are considered some of the most difficult letters to write and send because of their very sensitive nature. Even so, when someone close to you is dealing with the loss of a loved one, the grief and bereavement, writing and sending a condolence letter is probably one of the most considerate, kind, and thoughtful things you can do.

A condolence letter, if written properly, can show that you care about your friend and what they're going through and that you are sympathetic to their loss. Although there are many different ways to remember a loved one, such as a funeral, memorial service, online memorials, and online obituaries, writing and sending condolence letters can also be your way of not only expressing sympathy but also in remembering a loved one and sharing those memories with your grieving friend or relative.

The problem is that many people have a hard time finding the right words to express themselves in writing during such a sensitive time. Before you put pen to paper or start thinking of what on you are possibly going to write, keep in mind that your letter, in addition to being carefully and well-written, should aim to achieve three main purposes. The first is to express sympathy and comfort to your friend or relative experiencing the loss of a loved one. The second is to honor and pay tribute to the deceased and the third is to let the bereaved person know that you are available should they need help. If you are able to keep these three things in mind, and put them on paper, your condolence letter will in fact be honest and heartfelt.

Try to be personal and heartfelt in your condolence letter, without being too sentimental and gushing. You can start by acknowledging what happened

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A Simple Formula For Overcoming Fear And Worry

(category: Grief, Word count: 484)
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If you ask most people why they have not achieved their goals or the level of success they desire, they will usually respond with some built-in excuse (negative belief) that is holding them back. Underlying this excuse or negative belief is usually a fear or worry. How many times have you attempted something new, only to stop before you ever got started because you were afraid of what others may think? Or you don't think you have the time or money or both? Or because you believe are inexperienced or lack the knowledge to succeed?

Someone once defined F.E.A.R. as False Evidence Appearing Real, which means we have chosen to believe in something that is not really true. But because it is our belief, it is our reality. Worry is nothing more than a sustained fear caused by indecision. Sometimes we need to ask some tough questions to determine the cause of these worries or fears. Once the fear is identified, a simple formula can be used to overcome that fear.

The first step is to clearly define what you are afraid of or worried about. Write in down. Put in on paper. Half of your worries and fears will be solved the instant you can define them clearly by putting them on paper. What once seemed big in your mind will look small and insignificant on paper.

For the other half, you need to move on to step two. Ask yourself, what is the worst possible thing that can happen if this fear or worry becomes true? Make a list, yes, write it down on paper underneath your clearly defined worry. Keep writing down everything that comes to mind until you have identified the worst possible outcome. Do you realize that 90% of what we worry about never happens? Think about how much time you spend on worrying about stuff that never will happen. This list will help you see that.

Once you have completed your list, resolve in your mind that you will accept the worst possible thing that can happen. Since 90% of those things will never occur and generally the other 10% will not kill you, realize you will survive. Accept the worst possible thing by telling yourself, I can handle it, over and over again. This will start to turn things around.

Finally, begin now to make sure the worst never happens. Put together an action plan of exactly what you need to do to turn things around. By focusing on positive changes and implementing your action plan, your focus will shift to the positive outcomes and away from your fears. You will begin to feel better because now you can DO SOMETHING! Positive action is the only cure for fear and worry. Try this formula today and see if it will work for you. It has worked for me.

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Grief Loss

(category: Grief, Word count: 1227)
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Have you ever lost someone close to you to death? We go through a grief process that was best described by Elizabeth Kublar-Ross in On Death and Dying. In it she talks about the five stages that people go through-denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression and finally acceptance. The dying, as well as those who love them, go through these stages although rarely at the same time and these stages are not predictable.

You may think you are in the anger phase, then jump to depression and then, back to denial again. There is no rhyme or reason-only what feels right for each individual at the time. No one can predict how long a phase will last. If you are grieving and some well-meaning person suggests that you shouldn't be feeling what you are feeling, kindly thank them for their concern but know that you are exactly where you need to be.

However, with grief, sometimes you will become aware of something not feeling right. You may think, "I should be over this by now" or "I don't like feeling this way." When you, yourself, recognize that it is time to move beyond where you are at, then trust that feeling as well.

I'd like to talk about grief from a Choice Theory perspective. This will probably take several posts to make sense of it all. I need to start with the Choice Theory expression that all behavior is purposeful since grief is really just a behavior in choice theory terms. Choice theory tells us that everything we do at any point in time is our best attempt to get something we want-some picture we have in our Quality World that will meet one or more of our needs in some way. Grief is no exception.

Once you understand that all behavior is purposeful and that grief is a person's best attempt to get something they want, then it becomes easier to know what to do about it. What could we possibly be trying to get by grieving? Most people would say that there isn't a choice. When someone we love dies, we have to grieve. I say it is natural that we will miss the person's presence in our life but it isn't inevitable that we have to grieve, not in the way most people think of grieving.

The first thing I believe that we are trying to get with our grief is the person who died. When we grieve, it is our best attempt to keep that person alive, at least in our perceived world. We know they no longer exist in the physical world as we know it. However, if we continue to think about them, pine for them, grieve their presence, then it keeps the thought of that person active in our perception and it feels better to us than the total void or absence of the other person.

Another possible advantage of grief is that it shows others just how much we cared for and loved the person who died. I'm not suggesting that people are being manipulative in their grief. What I am saying is that there is a side benefit to grief in that it shows others how much we cared. It also says, "See what a good ___________ I was." Fill in the blank with husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, sister, brother, etc.

Grief is also instrumental in getting us the support we need from others during our time of bereavement. People do things for us that we would normally be expected to do ourselves. Again, please don't think that I am suggesting that a grieving person wakes up and "decides" to grieve so someone will stop by the house with a meal. None of this is conscious but I'm merely pointing out the potential advantages of grief.

Once we become totally conscious and aware of what our grief does and doesn't do for us, then comes the hard part. We need to make some decisions about how we want to live.

There are always at least three options in every situation and they can be framed up in terms of-leave it, change it or accept it. With death, you may wonder how someone is going to "leave it." Well, some possible ways would be major denial of the loss, suicide, drugs and/or alcohol abuse, or sinking deep into mental illness, among others.

When we get caught up in changing things, we may continue in our grief as our best attempt to get the person back. That might look like constant trips to the cemetery, frequent conversations with the deceased, refusing to believe he or she is truly gone, constantly talking about the one who's gone. There are many things we can do to attempt to change the reality of the loss.

If and when we come to accept it, we can experience some measure of peace and rejoin the living. A healthy step in this process is finding a way to somehow maintain that person's presence in our lives. Now, this is a very individual thing and you must be very careful not to judge the choices of the bereaved.

Most people saw Meet the Parents. In it, Robert DiNero's character kept the ashes of his mother in an urn on his mantle. Many people do this with the cremated remains of their loved ones. Others place some ashes in a necklace and wear it around their neck. Some will set up scholarship or memorials. When my husband died, his family and I created a wrestling scholarship fund for a local high school wrestler. When my friend lost her 8 year-old son, she had the Houston zoo name the frog exhibit after him!

There are all kinds of creative ways to maintain the person's presence. There is no wrong way. Whatever brings comfort to the bereaved should be supported by those around them. Remember that just because a person is choosing something that may be distasteful or wrong to you, doesn't make it wrong for that person.

When acceptance occurs, then the grieving person can begin to reassimilate back into their life and the lives of those around them but it won't happen overnight. We need patience and loving understanding for those coming back from grief.

Another possible choice is the person who doesn't appear to grieve at all. There may be many explanations for this behavior. The person may be very private and won't do his or her grieving where others can see. Another possibility is that the person is trying to be strong for everyone else. I know I wanted my children to KNOW that I was going to be OK. I didn't want them to believe that they had to take care of me. To some, it seemed that I wasn't grieving enough.

If you are grieving, or you are involved in the life of someone who is grieving, please don't judge yourself or them. Understand that all behavior is purposeful and the person is getting something out of what they are doing. When they become conscious that there is a choice, then they can make a conscious decision about which of the three choices they want to make. Once they know the direction they want to go in, they have to flesh out the details of their plan.

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Celebrate Life Using Online Memorials And Other Funeral Services To Remember

(category: Grief, Word count: 749)
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Grieving a lost loved one is never easy. One of the best therapies for this grief is to honor their life and give them a memorial service. Most people don't think beyond the traditional memorial service. There are many alternative, or untraditional, memorial service options. These can range from simple memorial poems to elaborate funeral memorials. When searching for the perfect memorial for a loved one don't forget some of these other options.

Some people opt for the traditional memorial service at a funeral home or graveside. These can be enhanced by a nice memorial poem. Poems for lost loved ones can range from simple, emotion-filled lines to elaborate, flowing pieces with imagery and structure. These poems may be read at the service, posted online in honor of the lost loved one, shared with family, or simply kept with other mementos. The simple act of writing one's feelings has a very therapeutic effect and can help the healing process. Others may be having the same feelings and emotions and by reading the poem it may help them work along the grieving track.

The internet offers many other options, as well. Posting the obituary online or online funeral messages may help spread the word. Online memorials set up for a loved one can help to speed the healing. This offers the opportunity of celebrating their life. Posting their accomplishments and pictures will allow all those unable to make it to a service to grieve, also. A collage of photos, favorite quotes, favorite song clips, and even links to their favorite causes can fill this online memorial. This can be an evolving memorial. Allowing others to post their memories and special times with the lost will truly celebrate their life and honor them. Open it up and allow others to post favorite pictures or quotes from the person and watch as the memorial takes new shape and memories blossom.

Some people take this even farther and have an online funeral. This allows everyone to reach out and help each other heal. Those who are limited due to disability, geography, or other hurdles may attend an online funeral and share in the sadness and joy that may accompany a celebration of the loved one's life. Video feed from the actual funeral service can be placed online or fed live during the service. Others will feel as if they are right there and feel a part of the process. This allows everyone the opportunity to be involved with laying the person's soul to rest.

When deciding on how to remember a loved one the possibilities are endless. Imagination can go a long way when planning an untraditional memorial. A video showing clips and photos of the person with voice-overs from family and friends is a good option. Planning a celebration of the person's life centered on things they enjoyed can help everyone remember them as they were in life. A memorial service for an avid scuba diver might take place in a favorite dive spot, or even underwater. The memories, and tears, may flow freely but the cleansing nature will be helpful. Share joys and favorite times and honor them in a place where they found joy.

Another popular form of memorial for a loved one is to give to a charity or favorite cause in their name. Taking this theme a little further, some families have volunteered, as a group, to assist the cause. A trip to the local Red Cross Blood Donor Center in honor of a lost loved one who volunteered with Red Cross would make a great tribute to their accomplishments in life. Whether giving money or blood, this is a true memorial to a loved one.

Whether holding a traditional funeral service or an untraditional online memorial, the most important step after the death of a loved one is to start the healing process. This involves going through the grieving process and finding a way to honor and remember the person. If posting their history and memories to a public website does not feel right, make a special, password-protected site that only family can access. It becomes an intimate memorial but allows those separated by geography to share in the grieving, and healing, process. Remember, a memorial for a lost loved one can be a simple poem or an elaborate memorial service, but the most important factor is the celebration of their life and accomplishments.

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