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Friday 21 December 2012

Tree Memories

Did you know that you can now plant a tree in memoriam of a loved one? It doesn't matter where in the world you live.

For €29 anyone can go on to website and have a tree planted for someone.
They will plant a tree and send a certificate and personalized note to a person of your choosing telling them where the tree is planted and explaining the service.

What a lovely eco friendly idea!

Thursday 22 November 2012

The Tragedy that was The Kennedy's

It will be JFK's 50th anniversary next year.

So who was JFK and who were the Kennedys?

They certainly had an unfair share of tragedy in their lives.

Jacqueline had a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956; and a son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died shortly after birth in August 1963.

John's eldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., who was originally to carry the family's hopes for the Presidency, died in World War II, aged 29. Then both JFK, and his brother Robert died as a result of assassinations. Years after JFK's death, it was revealed that aged 30, he had been diagnosed with Addison's disease - a rare endocrine disorder.

Infamously known as the guy who shot JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Oswald was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby.

Edward Kennedy had brushes with death, the first in a plane crash in 1964 and the second as a result of a car accident in 1969. Edward died at age 77, on August 25, 2009, from the effects of a malignant brain tumor.

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK's immediate family. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was born in 1960, just a few weeks after his father was elected. John died in 1999, when a plane crashed en route to Martha's Vineyard, also killing his wife and his sister-in-law.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt's death in 1962.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in October 11, 1884.  She was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. Her husband was also rumoured to be a distant cousin of hers - Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She became an advocate for civil rights.

After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt became an international author, speaker, politician, and activist for the New Deal coalition (a response to the Great Depression: Relief, Recovery, and Reform - Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression).

She worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women.

Roosevelt was injured in April 1960 when she was struck by a car in New York City. She died in November 7, 1962 as a result of recurrent tuberculosis. Her funeral at Hyde Park was attended by President John F. Kennedy and former Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. At her memorial service, Adlai Stevenson asked, "What other single human being has touched and transformed the existence of so many? She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world."

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Death of Social Media

What happens online when you die? Do your online friends find out? What happens your FB profile? Your Twitter? Your LinkedIn?

You may not know when or how you will die but you can control what happens to your digital legacy.

You can remove a loved one’s account. This will completely remove the profile and all associated content from Facebook, so no one can view it. OR you can alert FB to the fact that someone has passed away and their profile will be frozen and will act as a memorial page where loved one's and friends can leave wishes and thoughts and memories.

Recently WGRZ reported that Facebook will also allow family members to download the account contents of the deceased, if prior authorization or a court order is present.

So.....What should you do?
If you want to have a say in what happens, you should leave instructions in your will. You can grant your heirs the right to a download of your data or leave instructions to close the account entirely.

On the other hand if you want to go a step further and leave a goodbye message for your friends, there’s an app for that. ifidie allows you to leave a text or video message behind, which it will automatically post upon your death, after three friends or “trustees” agree that you’ve passed away. Might spook some people out though.

Remember the passwords, songs you download and communications you write are YOUR property. Like any other property you own, it’s important to consider what will happen to it when you die. Do you want others to see or have your digital property? Would you like it to be deleted? Make sure you state your wishes clearly!

Thursday 18 October 2012

The Elephant in the Room

June Rogers took to the stand as a Christmas tree!

We had our stand at the Over 50's Show at the weekend and it was a great success! We have loads of pictures but these were our favorites.

A nun adds her piece to the board

The Elephants in the Room were:

Liam Keane
Liam Keane and Partners

Joanne Smith
Secure Financial

Jennifer Muldowney (me!)
Farewell funeral planners

Joanne Smith of Secure Financials, Jennifer Muldowney of Farewell Funeral Planners and Liam Keane of Liam Keane and Partners Solicitors joined forces as ‘The Elephant in the Room’ for Ireland's only dedicated event for older people - the Over 50's Show. The aim was to get those attending the 2012 show talking about the elephant in the room, which in this case refers to end of life planning.

The Before I die wall

Exclusive to the show this year The Elephant in the Room stand included a global interactive art project called ‘Before I Die’ where people shared their hopes and dreams for the future.

For more info see
Joanne and Liam - Elephants!

Friday 12 October 2012

Funeral Trade Exhibition Mullingar


I was at the Funeral Trade Show in Mullingar last week and apart from my car breaking down en route (and thank you to that fabulous gentleman from Cork who helped me!) it was a fairly average experience. The funeral industry in Ireland definitely needs a shake up. The most exciting things was the hearse trailer pictured above and the fabulous ladies from Mourning Cross. I will fill you in on what they do a little later in the blog when I have more time. Other than that, there was not much happening. What should be in a Trade Show for the funeral industry? Well having been to many a trade show before in different industries there definitely is more pep that can be brought to the table in my opinion.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Irish Jokes part 2

His wife had been killed in an accident and the police were questioning Finnegan.
"Did she say anything before she died?" asked the sergeant.
"She spoke without interruption for about forty years," said the Irishman.


Paddy was rather sad after viewing the body of a dead atheist.
"There he was. All dressed up and no place to go."


Brenda O'Malley is home as usual, making dinner, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door. "Brenda, may I come in?" he asks.
"I've somethin' to tell ya."
"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"
"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery..."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me..."
"I must, Brenda. Your husband Seamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."
Brenda reached a hand out to her side, found the arm of the rocking chair by the fireplace, pulled the chair to her and collapsed into it. She wept for many minutes. Finally she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"
"It was terrible, Brenda. Seamus fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned."
"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"
"Well, Brenda... no."
"Fact is, he got out three times to pee."


Stephen Gately 17 March 1976 – 10 October 2009

Originally from Sheriff Street in Dublin, Stephen Gately was one of five children and interestingly also one of five members of Irish boyband, Boyzone.

  • With Boyzone, Stephen enjoyed a record-breaking 16 consecutive singles which entered the top 5 of the UK Singles Chart including 6 number ones. 
  • He was first to release a solo album in 2000, after the group disbanded. He also went on to appear in various stage productions and television programmes. 
  • In 2008, Boyzone reformed and produced the video 'Better'. 
  • Stephen wed Andrew Cowles in a commitment ceremony in Las Vegas in 2003 and again in a civil partnership ceremony in London in 2006. Stephen was a patron of the charity 'Missing People'. 
  • His book, 'The Tree of Seasons' which was in progress at his time of death in 2009, was written in collaboration with June Considine and Jules Williams but based on Stephen's original handwritten notes. On the day that he died he had just worked out the ending. 

 Ronan Keating's Eulogy to Stephen Gately:

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Irish Joke about Wakes

Why does an irishman's wake last for three days?
To make sure he's really dead and not just drunk.

(and this is a true story!!! No joke!)

Monday 1 October 2012

An Irish Wake

A wake is the process of laying out the body of a departed relative in the house and watching over them from the time of death until the body is conveyed to the care of the church. The body will usually be laid out in the parlour or living room of the deceased’s home. Family, friends and neighbours attend. Typically a large amount of food and drink is consumed over the period of mourning.

So where did it all come about? Well the true origins of the wake are foggy but it appears to date back to an ancient Jewish custom of leaving the sepulchre (burial chamber, vault, tomb, or grave) of the deceased open for three days before finally closing it up. This time allows family members to visit, which they typically did in the hope of seeing signs of a return to life.

Of course the Irish have to throw their own slant on it and it usually involves drink. A story that is more than likely a myth is also doing the rounds as to the origins of the Irish wake. Often drinkers who drank from pewter tankards would suffer (frequently) from lead poisoning and a symptom of this poisoning would be a catatonic state causing the person to appear dead only for them to recover or awaken a few hours or days later!

Typically a wake is a time for celebration of the deceased’s time on earth and an opportunity to say farewell to loved ones. It can be a sad affair but also an uplifting service marking the deceased, their life and sending them onto their next journey with goodwill and love.

Thursday 27 September 2012

To Arthur!!!

Brenda O'Malley is home as usual, making dinner, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.
"Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya."
"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"
"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery..."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me..."
"I must, Brenda. Your husband Seamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."
Brenda reached a hand out to her side, found the arm of the rocking chair by the fireplace, pulled the chair to her and collapsed into it. She wept for many minutes. Finally she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"
"It was terrible, Brenda. Seamus fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned."
"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"
"Well, Brenda... no."
"Fact is, he got out three times to pee."

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Irish Jokes

" I hear Murphy died, " said Pat. "Was he ill long?"
"No," said Mick. "He died in the best of health."


Paddy was walking through a graveyard when he came across a headstone with the inscription "Here lies a politician and an honest man."
"Faith now," exclaimed Paddy, "I wonder how they got the two of them in one grave."


Mrs. Pete Monaghan came into the newsroom to pay for her husband's obituary. She was told by the kindly newsman that it was a dollar a word and he remembered Pete and wasn't it too bad about him passing away. She thanked him for his kind words and bemoaned the fact that she only had two dollars. But she wrote out the obituary,
"Pete died."
The newsman said he thought old Pete deserved more and he'd give her three more words at no charge. Mrs. Pete Monaghan thanked him and rewrote the obituary:
"Pete died. Boat for sale"


"Mike," he says, "I know I'm a goner."
"Oh, Paddy, have faith, ye still have years ahead uv yuh."
"No, Mick, I'm finished an' you've been such a great friend, there's one thing I'd like yuh to do when I'm gone."
"Ahh, Paddy, I'll do anything you ask, I swear it to the Saints and the Holy Mother."
"Well, dear friend, I have been saving a jug of fine whiskey that my brother sent me from Cashel some eight years ago, and I would like you to pour it on me grave when I'm buried."
Mike sits silently for a long time and Pat asks again,
"will you o that for yer oldest friend, Mike?"
Mike draws a big breath and says, "Ye know I will Pat, but would ye mind if I filter it through me kidneys first?'


Tuesday 11 September 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan Funeral

Michael Clarke Duncan died on the 3rd of September 2012 at the age of 54 after failing to recover from a heart attack he had suffered earlier in the year. In 2000, he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal as a convicted murderer on death row in the above movie, The Green Mile.

His funeral details were as follows:

Date: 10th September 2012
Venue: Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills

Music: Singer Stevie Wonder (via video) played piano and sang the opening verses of his song 'As'


Tom Hanks spoke of his late co-star and his penmanship, described as "loopy and huge", resembled that of "a 12-year-old girl who loves horses". He also told a warming story of how the actor one day decided to tell his mother he was going to join a gang in his hometown of Chicago. She hit him with a frying pan she was using. That ended that discussion. Tom Hanks describes then how he imagines the gentle giant (6ft 4in, 300 lb) trying to explain to his fellow gang members that his mother would not let him join them."If it wasn't for that mama and the frying pan with a pork chop, we would not be here today celebrating the life of Michael Clarke Duncan,".

Frank Darabont, director of The Green Mile, spoke and read a letter from Stephen King (Green Mile author) in which Stephen wrote "No one has ever done a character I wrote more justice."

Other speakers included Grey's Anatomy actress Loretta Devine and Angel/Bones actor David Boreanaz.

Attendees: Tom Hanks, his Green Mile co-star, US talk show host Jay Leno, Frank Darabont, director of The Green Mile, Grey's Anatomy actress Loretta Devine, David Boreanaz, Michael's fiancee - former reality TV star the Reverend Omarosa O Manigault, Michael's mother, sister and nephews

RIP Michael.

Sept 11th 2001

I love this, it is truly, beautifully simple.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Small Irish Joke for the Weekend

What's the difference between an Irish funeral and an Irish wedding?

One less drunk!

You have probably heard it a million times but I love it!

Friday 31 August 2012

Princess Diana, 1961 - 1997

Princess Diana, 1961 - 1997 

“She is a part of our history, an incredible woman and fascinating but a tragic ending,” Naomi Watts who will be portraying the Princess in an upcoming biopic film - "Caught in Flight", which is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, and due in cinemas in February 2013.

Today is Diana's 15th anniversary of her death and while her short life came to an abrupt end with a drunken driver, no seat belt and a paparazzi chase, her name is still remembered fondly worldwide as England's Rose and her legacy lives on.

There are some pieces of the funeral service that are often forgotten or maybe not as widely known. Her brother for example wrote his sister's eulogy himself and it was not shown to the royal family in advance of his public reading of it. He spoke from the heart, paid tribute to his sister but also put a slight dent in the Royal family's armor. He promised to protect the two princes, William and Harry, from the cold duty of the Palace so that they, like their mother would be able to live a life of their own. Then for the first time since 1065 in Westminster Abbey, applause erupted and was followed into Hyde Park where thousands celebrated.

By publicly holding the hand of someone with the Aids virus in the 80's, Diana did more to remove the distance and coldness that permeated from the Royal family than anyone had before or has since.

It was Diana who insisted the boys had a life outside the Palace walls and the impact on William today is clear as he stands with his wife Kate whom he clearly married for love. But determined to do his duty, he seems to follow in his mother's footsteps and will not expense of his private life or the love of his life to the role.

Even Prince Harry with his latest Las Vegas adventures showcase a young man who although a Prince, is a young man enjoying life and after being photographed topless in Spain, I'm sure the Princess could relate with him on intrusive media!

And this is where Diana's legacy still stands. No statue has been erected in her honor but her charity work, her efforts to humanize the royal family and most importantly her sons will survive longer and do more to warm hearts than any cold hardened statue ever could.

Diana's Burial place, Althorp, the Spencer-family estate in Northhampshire, England

Tuesday 28 August 2012

End of Life Planning

Death is one of those absolute certainties.  We constantly make plans for things that might never happen so why do we sometimes shirk planning for death? Something we know WILL happen.

Who do you want to inherit your house (and remember the mortgage protection policy will discharge the mortgage)?   Who do you want to be Guardians of your children?  Will your partner be adequately looked after?  Is your spouse adequately protected?  Have you make provision for that vulnerable child?  

It is up to you to answer these questions but your Solicitor can ensure that your wishes are given effect by including them in a properly drafted Will.

Where do you want to be buried?  What sort of funeral service do you want?  Do you wish to be cremated?  

When our clients are making their Wills, we also provide them with the option of contacting Jennifer at Farewell Funeral Planners to ensure that all their wishes are recorded and dealt with.

Discussing death does not need to be gloomy and depressing.  Knowing that your wishes will be respected can be soothing and even uplifting.

Thanks to Liam Keane of Liam Keane and Partners in Dunshaughlin for this blog entry.

Friday 24 August 2012

We will count no more..aa aa aa

Jerry Nelson has died aged 78. Jerry (July 10, 1934 – August 23, 2012) an American puppeteer, best known for his work with The Muppets also performed Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock and on Sesame street. He voiced Mr. Snuffleupagus from 1971 - 78. He grew up in Washington, D.C.

Nelson worked with Muppet creator Jim Henson on TV's The Jimmy Dean Show, a program on which Kermit and the Muppets first became popular.  His began with Sesame Street in the '70s, and he continued to be the Count until his retirement in 2004. He also played the role of the telethon announcer in last year's big screen movie "The Muppets."

He is survived by his wife, Jan. Sadly their daughter, Christine, died of cystic fibrosis in 1982.

RIP Count.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

10 things to know about funeral planning

  1. Do a preplan. This puts in writing exactly what you would like and how you would like it, leaving loved ones burden free in deciding what song, flowers, poems they should choose to represent you. Saves money overall and puts the power in your hands. 
  2. Plan ahead of a Funeral home visit. Know what you would like ahead of time because more than likely the undertaker can and will oblige. Not knowing what you want could incur massive costs to you and your family.
  3. Compare prices. Funeral prices can vary hugely, even in the same county so don’t be afraid to ring up and ask for prices ahead of time. Unfortunately most funeral homes do not display their prices on their websites so a bit of research is required here.
  4. Know who you are dealing with. Like with most purchases you make, you choose to buy from a reputable company, you should do likewise with a funeral home.
  5. Think local and small. Small, independent funeral homes can often provide you with a better quality and more personal service at a cheaper price so don’t forget the little guy.
  6. Are they are member of the IAFD? Does this matter? It has an established Code of Practice which must be followed by all of it's members.
  7. Extra extra. Read all about the extra’s that you may incur if you are not careful. Only purchase what you need. Embalming, grave cover, and pallbearers are all extras that you may not need. 
  8. Inspect the products you are purchasing as much as is physically possible.
  9. Hire a funeral planner. An honest funeral planner will spend time with you and show you all the options available to you, both on cost and variety. But bear in mind that you are paying for their expertise and professionalism. If at any point this comes into question, you have the right to decline their services.
  10. Disbursements. Funeral Disbursements are fees that are paid on behalf of a client by a Funeral Director to third parties i.e crematorium, newspaper, clergy etc. 

Thursday 16 August 2012

Financial Support in Ireland Part 3

Another source of income when a bereavement occurs is the resources of the deceased.
  1. A Prepaid Funeral plan
  2. Their Bank Account - If money in the bank/building society is in the deceased's name only, then you usually cannot get access to it until a probate is taken out but if it is a joint account you may be able to access funds.
  3. A Post Office Account  - If the deceased had left instructions on a 'nomination form', the proceeds of the savings deposit account will be distributed according to those instructions. There are tax implications if the amount is more than 6,348.69 euro. If the investor had made a will, the proceeds will be distributed in accordance with the will. All you have to do is get a claim form from any post office and send it with the following: a death certificate, a Post Office deposit book and the original will or certified copy of the will.
  4. Credit union accounts - If the deceased had a credit union account and had completed a valid Nomination Form, when opening the account, nominating someone as next of kin, the proceeds of the account up to a maximum of €23,000 go to the person or persons nominated on the form. They do not form part of the deceased's estate. The balance of the account forms part of the deceased's estate.
  5. Life assurance - If an insurance policy names you as the beneficiary, then you may claim it directly from the insurance company. You need a death certificate. If there is no named beneficiary, then the proceeds form part of the overall estate of the deceased and are distributed with the other assets. Find out about different types of insurance here.
  6. Occupational and personal pensions. Find out more information about pensions here.
For Further information click here

Saturday 11 August 2012

Civil Ceremony

The Civil Celebrant holds no ideological or philosophical viewpoint but simply wishes to reflect the
desires of the family and loved ones of the deceased person. Traditionally funerals in Ireland have
been religious but with increasing secularisation people are moving away from old traditions and are
embracing new ways of mourning or celebrating the lives of their loved ones.

Civil Funeral Ceremonies are increasingly becoming the way to honour the life of the decease. The
Civil Celebrant will assist the family in creating the service, weaving the important and relevant
aspects, memories, music, poetry and prayers ( if wished for or an acknowledgement of a spiritual
dimension) of the deceased’s life into a memorable service which commemorates the loved one and
gives comfort to the mourners.

Thanks to Patricia Wojnar, fully accredited Civil Celebrant for this blog entry. 086 257 3539

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Death in South Africa

When someone dies in South Africa there is a ritual of visitation for at least a week to pay respects to the dead. Each of these visits brings with it the supply of food and drink for visitors. On the eve of the funeral, the family will traditionally hold a vigil where visitors can once again come to pay respect. Depending on how popular the deceased was, this can be hundreds of people.
One of the biggest funeral parlors will conduct a minimum of 40 funerals every Saturday so business is booming, so to speak.

Expensive caskets, catering for visitors, rental of chairs and tables and venues to hold vigils can squander most if not all life insurance payouts.

In South Africa, fashion and pride go hand in hand. People show up in bright oranges and yellows, with branded sunglasses and suits while arriving at the funeral in expensive cars to showcase their wealth. Once the funeral rites have been uttered, it is a fine feast next. Three to four courses is standard and then a drinks reception follows to give the deceased a fond farewell.

Tuesday 31 July 2012

No Fifty Shades of Grey here

Image from Mail Online

The Queen of girly Irish fiction - Maeve Binchy died last night 30th July aged 72 years. A journalist, short story writer and best-selling novelist, she was famous for her warm stories about love, life and relationships. A far cry from the more recent bestsellers like Fifty Shades of Grey. You could almost describe reading one of her books as being with a good friend; you laughed, you cried, experienced romance, everyday life and all the baggage that comes with it. Trending all over the internet, she has received kind words from all over the globe and from every walk of life. Sounds about right.

  • She wrote her first novel at the age of 43
  • A journalist at the Irish Times, she eventually became its women’s editor
  • Her first novel - Light a Penny Candle was published in 1982
  • She had 16 novels translated into 30 languages
  • Sold 40 million copies worldwide
  • One book was developed into the 1995 film Circle of Friends starring Minnie Driver and Chris O'Connell
  • She was born in Dalkey in Co Dublin and studied at UCD
  • She announced her retirement in 2000
  • But her last novel Minding Frankie was published in 2010
  • She received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards in 2010
  • Throughout her career she made Britain's top 10 most popular writers, the New York Times' Best-seller List and even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

RIP Maeve, you deserve it.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Financial Support in Ireland Part 2

Social welfare payments

If you were living with or were dependent on the deceased, any current benefits or payments you are getting may change, or you may be able to claim additional benefits. Depending on your income and circumstances you may be entitled to a social welfare payment in your own right, for example:

  1. Financial Assistance Following Bereavement - Supports are available in Ireland to help families following bereavement.
  2. Social welfare payments following a death – Some social welfare payments can continue after someone dies, where someone who was getting a certain social welfare payment dies, his or her spouse/civil partner/cohabitant may get 6 weeks of this payment after the death.
  3. Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension
  4. Widow's/Widower's Non-Contributory Pension is paid to widowed people who do not qualify for a contributory pension and who pass a means test.
  5. Guardian's payment is paid to the child's guardian up to the child's 18th birthday if he or she is in full-time education.
  6. One Parent Family Payment can be paid to you if you are parenting alone as a result of the death of your spouse or partner. If you also qualify for a Widow's/Widower's Contributory Pension you will have to choose which payment is of most benefit to you because you cannot get both.
  7. Dependent Parent's Pension is paid to a dependent parent whose supporting child dies as a result of / while suffering from a work related illness or accident.
  8. Additional payments - the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme provides financial support to people with low incomes. You may qualify for a weekly supplement payment under the scheme to meet certain special needs, for example, help with rent/mortgage interest payments, special medical diets and fuel costs. In addition, payments can also be made for urgent or exceptional needs.

There are also extra credits for widowed parents in the years following the death of a spouse. 

For Further information click here

To check your entitlements, contact your nearest social welfare office or your nearest Citizens Information Centre. You can also phone the Citizens Information Phone Service on lo-call: 1890 777 121

Friday 20 July 2012

The One Habit of a Highly Effective Person

Stephen Covey, of 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' passed away on Monday. A seminar he gave - Imagine the end of your life, you attend your own funeral. Who would be there? What would they say about you? What life would you have lived? (called a Purposeful Life).

“Begin with the end in mind” was one of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” in his best-selling 1989 book.

  • Over 20 million books sold (in 38 languages)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century
  • International Man of Peace Award
  • International Entrepreneur of the Year Award

His wife, 9 children, 52 grandchildren and people from around the world will pay their respects to a highly sung gentleman on Saturday July 21st 2012.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Financial Support in Ireland Part 1

Both the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Health Service Executive (HSE) provide support services.  

Bereavement Grants

  1. Widowed Parents Grant - a once-off payment to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners with dependent children. This grant is payable in addition to the Bereavement Grant for insured people.
  2. Special Funeral Grant - available under the Occupational Injuries Scheme to the dependents of anyone who dies as a result of a work related accident or illness. 
  3. Standard Bereavement Grant - a once-off payment made when someone dies. Eligibility for this grant is not related to your ability to pay for the funeral but is based on PRSI contributions - either yours or those of the person who has died. 

However, do note that if you are claiming the grant, you are responsible for the production of certain certificates and documents. 

For Further information click here

To check your entitlements, contact your nearest social welfare office or your nearest Citizens Information Centre. You can also phone the Citizens Information Phone Service on lo-call: 1890 777 121

Monday 16 July 2012

Nora Ephron Memorial

Nora planned every detail of her funeral including the location, who was going to speak and even how much time each speaker would get! She filed the plans in a folder marked “exit”. 

Here is/was the lowdown:

Venue: Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center 
When: 11:30AM Monday 9th July 2012
Music: "It's a Beautiful World" and "As Time Goes By" and many more.
Drink: Reception of pink champagne post memorial
Theme: FOOD!

Order of service/ Memorial booklet: Each one housed a torn out page from one of Nora's collection of recipes to go to the 800 odd people who were in attendance!

Film/Tribute: Actors performed sketches, musicians sang and they even introduced clips from some of Nora's films.

Attendees: Sons - Jacob and Max Bernstein, Martin Short, Delia Ephron, Richard Cohen, Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, J.J. Sacha, Annette Bening, Diane Sawyer, Martin Scorcese, Stephen Spielberg, directors Jack O'Brian and George Wolfe, gay activist Larry Kramer, Meg Ryan, Sally Field; Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Joel Klein, the head of News Corp.'s education division; playwright-screenwriter Tony Kushner; writer-director James L. Brooks; Barbara Walters; Steve Martin; Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Larry David; Kristen Chenoweth; Diane Sawyer, Matthew Broderick; Martin Short and Martha Stewart, Charlie Rose, author Gay Talese; Tina Brown; Gayle King; and Gail Collins and David Carr of the New York Times among the attendees. phew!!!

Thursday 12 July 2012

Life cycle events

Parties or events tend to get a bit more complicated as we move through the cycle of life. As an event planner I know that organising a birthday party for a 3 year old is not the same as a 13th birthday or a 21st. Then there’s anniversaries and 60th birthdays and weddings and then there are funerals. These are the events no one wants to organise. Yet it is the one event guaranteed to happen regardless of age. If a bride and groom had to plan their wedding in 3 – 5 days they’d be seriously stressed out. Add to that waves of grief and sadness.

By preplanning your funeral you can minimize stress and anxiety on your family and save money. Here are three reasons to preplan your own funeral:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Save money
  3. Create a personal service in your memory
With just a little bit of forethought, a funeral can become a celebration of your life.

To talk to Jennifer about preplanning call 086 8440966 or email

Wednesday 27 June 2012

What NOT to say at a funeral (humour)

  • I should have said something earlier... but I really, really need his kidney.
  • Down in front!
  • Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon.
  • Better him than me.
  • Pick it up - I've got Zumba at 4.
  • Whoa. I didn't know we were supposed to dress up.
  • You look like you've seen a ghost.
  • Did he pay you to come, too?
  • Who's the dead guy?
  • Is that my beeper - or is he still wearing his?
  • See, kids? This is what God does to the bad ones.
  • How much for the long black coffee table?
  • Can I put my drink here?
  • Get up, Jimmy! It's not funny anymore!
  • Eeewwww! What cheap flowers!
  • Is the karoake after this part?
  • He won't be needing that tie anymore, will he?
  • Got any smack?
  • He looks so peaceful... you'd never know he's burning in Hell right now.
  • Does anyone have dibs on his parking space?
  • He never liked you.
  • Stall long enough, and you never have to return their tools.
  • Finally, I can get a picture of him with his mouth shut. Say "cheese".

Monday 11 June 2012

Goddess of Death

Ever heard the name Libitina? No? Well I have to be honest before I googled death and mythology, I hadn’t either but she makes for an interesting read, and a belated/very early Halloween costume too.

In Roman mythology, Libitina was the goddess of death, corpses and funerals. Image wise, there was not much to inspire as her face was seldom portrayed. As a reigning personification of death she was manifested as a black robed winged figure who hovered above her ‘prey’.

I’m deeply fascinated by the story and delighted I came upon it. As we have said before it is a slow burner that women get involved in the funeral industry and yet here we are with the lady that started it all.

She often had temples set up in her honour that would house all the necessities for funerals, including gravediggers. It is also worth noting that the great Colosseum apparently housed one gate dedicated to Libitina in honour of all the fallen gladiators who fought and lost their lives within the Colosseums great walls.

Thursday 24 May 2012

9 ways to include family and friends

1 – Music - Get a friend to sing or play an instrument

2 – Words - Have a cousin or aunt say a few words, a prayer, a poem, a quote

3 – Images - Invite friends and family to submit photos of the deceased and share memories for the memorial website or book or to show during the service

4 – Video - As above and also invite them to submit a short video describing the deceased and a fond memory of them

5 – Greeters - Have young people/children greet people at the entrance to the service or reception and show them where to go

6 – Pallbearers - Historically six men filled the roles of pallbearer but don’t be afraid to deviate from tradition if there are women interested

7 – Service - Is there a friend or relative who has been ordained or would like to lead the service

8 – Design - Invite friends and family to contribute to the design of the service and reception and memorial site including order of service sheets,memorial cards, condolence book, tree planting, etc.

9 - Reception - Ask family or friends to help with providing drinks, food, entertainment at the reception

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Sticks and stones - words that can hurt

There are a number of things you should never say to someone at a funeral but it can be difficult to know what to say and often words that are inappropriate or lack emotion can come out instead. Here is a short guideline of phrases you should never say.

1 – He/She is in a better place.
There are few people who, while grieving a loss, will agree with you on this one. They may nod but really they are probably wishing for whoever has died to return to them. This has religious connotations and may provide some with relief but not all so is best left unsaid.

2 – He looks so peaceful.
This is one of those classic silence breakers where the person saying it, does not actually believe it but feels the need to say something. Rule number one, silence is okay.

3 – Let me know if there is anything I can do.
This is another classic phrase. Do not say this. Call them, drop by, send an email or a letter, drop in some food, bring them somewhere. They won’t know what you can do, so just do it.

4 – I am sorry for your loss.
This gets said a lot and unfortunately has become generic as a result. A plain ‘I’m sorry’ is better and seems more heartfelt.

5 – I know how you feel.
One of my pet peeves. No-one ever knows how you feel. Whether you have lost a pet, a mother, father, brother, grandmother, aunt, friend, uncle you didn’t even like, nobody will ever know how you feel about that person and the fact that they are not there anymore.

6 – How are you feeling/holding up/keeping?
I can’t presume to know how they are feeling and they will not want to be asked this a million times. Everyone does it but what do they expect the answer to be?

7 – He is finally at peace.
This is said to provide some form of comfort to those who are grieving but it does little to accomplish this.

I have been guilty of a number of these phrases myself over the years and so I know that the uttering of these phrases is never meant maliciously, or inappropriately but they are also void of feeling and are what I now call ‘silence killers’. If you are at a loss for what to say, simply say “I don’t know what to say”. Honesty can be the kindest thing to someone grieving.

My best advice when you are not sure is to give the person a hug as sometimes words are just not enough.

Monday 30 April 2012

The future looks green

Green burials use less energy, consume fewer resources such as water, are less toxic, may use local, sustainable materials and encourage environmental protection or regrowth. 

Bodies are not embalmed because that delays decomposition and without the chemicals to preserve the body, toxic chemicals are avoided, reducing harmful exposure both to nature and the embalmer. Instead, bodies are wrapped in a biodegradable shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket. 

Green funerals are increasing in popularity in Ireland. Ireland's first natural burial site is in Wexford. A single plot costs around 800 euro.

See for more information.

Thursday 26 April 2012


“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sunday 15 April 2012

Webcast Funeral

Millions attended Whitney Houston's funeral and listened to "I will always love you" as her body left the local church. After Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros was killed covering a Libyan uprising, thousands attended his memorial service. The majority of the audience at each of these funerals attended them virtually.

While very new to Ireland, streaming funerals live around the globe could become a very important part of our future. Figures show emigration of Irish people is over 40,000 a year and a lot of these people will stay illegally in the countries they migrate to. Australia alone now has 1,075 Irish people living there unlawfully, a 24 percent increase from last year. In doing this, it means they can’t leave to return home for the funeral of a loved one.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have also made us much more comfortable with sharing intimate details about ourselves online. Many deaths and funerals are reported, commented on, tweeted, recorded and posted online already.

The advantages of streaming are also a form of family memorial that can be preserved on a DVD as part of a family's oral history. It's an archive for future unborn generations. For sudden deaths, streaming can also foster a communal mourning experience, in digital form.

Monday 2 April 2012

An end of life wish between friends

Nachu Bhatnagar and Colton met at a summer camp in Yale. 

18-year-old high school seniors, Nachu lives in Maryland, and Colton lives in California. 

Nachu was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma - a bone cancer and treatment was unsuccessful.

Instead of talking college applications, these friends were discussing end of life plans.When asked what he wanted for his birthday Nachu told Colton he wanted to read a book, but not just any book. Nachu is a huge fan of author Harry Turtledove, an author who writes historical fiction. He wanted to read series 4 of a 6 book series the author was writing on World War II. Book 4 wasn't due out until July which Nachu was not likely to live to see.

Colton went onto the Internet to see if he could source an advance of the book. He went onto and through a series of conversations with strangers, the book arrived at his house before he was due to fly over to Nachu. Colton surprises Nachu on his birthday in this video......

Friday 30 March 2012


“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” 

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Death in Ireland

Once upon a time in Ireland..........the story goes that once someone passed away, a window was opened to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave the house. 

Storytelling is very much a part of old Ireland and death in fairytales are intermittently linked. According to these tales no-one must stand or block the path to the window as this may prevent the spirit from leaving and bring misfortune to the person who does so.
In the olden days in Ireland a body was washed and clothed in white. If the deceased was a male he would have be freshly shaven.  A rosary is then wrapped around the hands and a cross placed around the neck depending on the religion of the deceased. Candles are placed at the head and foot of the coffin and remain lit while the deceased was still present in the house. Family members or close friends would stay with the deceased at all times taking it in shifts to watch over the departed. All clocks in the house were stopped at the time the person died and all mirrors covered or turned to face the wall as a mark of respect. Also, traditionally all the curtains closed.
'Keening' is also an old Irish Tradition. This is when women would cry and wail over the deceased. This took place after the body had been laid out, if the women started ‘keening’ before the body was ‘laid-out’ it would invoke evil spirits.

Monday 5 March 2012

Public Funerals Case: Mandela

Unfortunately, the death of Mandela is going to be one of the biggest things to have ever happened to the world in the last couple of decades. 

Sure, we have had both celebrity and political figures pass away and massive funeral coverage as a result but Mandela is a world-renowned figure. 

Mandela's high profile will mean massively sought-after coverage of his final days.

However, there must be a balance between keeping the public informed and allowing his family grieve. 

Certain media houses have already begun preparation for the inevitability of his death

As a global figure, a man of the people and a symbol for freedom, how far are we, the public entitled to go?

Friday 24 February 2012


"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body but rather skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, totally worn out and screaming 'Woohooo what a ride, I wanna go round again!!!'"

Monday 20 February 2012

Irish Joke

An elderly Irishman lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favourite scones wafting up the stairs.He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed…Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the banister with both hands, he crawled downstairs.
With labored breath he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death’s agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for here, spread out upon waxed paper on the kitchen table, were dozens of his favorite scones.
Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted Irish wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man? Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in a rumpled posture. His lips parted, he could almost taste the scone before it was in his mouth, seemingly bringing him back to life.
His aged and withered hand trembled on its way to the nearest scone at the edge of the table, when his beloved wife suddenly smacked his hand with a spatula.
“Get off!!” she said, “they’re for the funeral!!”

Monday 6 February 2012

ICE Numbers

In case of emergency (ICE) is a system that was conceived in the mid 2000s that enables those at accident scenes -  paramedics, firefighters, and police as well as hospital personnel, to contact next of kin to obtain important medical or support information. 

Unfortunately these days for security purposes, many mobile phone owners now lock their mobiles, requiring a pin number to access the device. In response to this problem, many device manufacturers have provided a system to show some text while the mobile is 'locked'. The owner of the phone can specify their "In Case of Emergency" contact and also a "Lost and Found" contact.

Please speak to your service providers for more information but whatever you do, put an ICE number into your phone now!

Monday 30 January 2012

5 Regrets of the Dying

In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware, who worked in Palliative Care, describes some common 'regrets' that surfaced with patients as they neared their final days:
  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard. (mostly from male patients)
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.