Funeral Do's and Don'ts: Funeral Etiquette 101
In this ‘scintillating’ episode of the Good Grief podcast, Mike O'Connell and Amber Miller of O'Connell Funeral Homes join Pete Waggoner to discuss funeral etiquette. They get into the nitty-gritty of the do's and don'ts of attending a funeral--from the proper attire, to the conversation topics that may be off-limits or offending to the grieving family. The two also share about the real-life scenarios they have encountered in their years of experience and how to best handle each situation. The podcast offers an insightful and retrospective look into the essence of funerals and the proper way to honor the deceased while also providing comfort to the bereaved loved ones. Takeaways: Being respectful and considerate goes a long way when attending a funeral. There is no one right way to grieve. We can't assume what another person is going through, so it's important to be sensitive and compassionate. In this episode: [2:14] Host Pete Waggoner opens the discussion by asking if wearing black is a must at funerals. Mike O'Connell responds by sharing how the color has become a sign of showing reverence to the deceased and to those who are grieving. The guests also get into detail about the kinds of clothes that are and are not appropriate to wear to a funeral. [9:15] Mike talks about the conversational topics that may not be appropriate to discuss at a funeral and how using the deceased’s name can be a way to show that they are being remembered. Pete further dwells into the topic by asking whether referring to the deceased in the past tense may be a sign of disrespect. [13:33] Amber Miller discusses the different things to follow when attending a funeral such as being on time, where and when to enter when arriving late, and what to do when leaving early. Mike shares some ridiculous funeral stories he has encountered in his line of work to drive the point home. [24:10] Pete starts the conversation on what one should say to the grieving family. Mike puts emphasis on the importance of being mindful of the questions one asks and how they should be phrased. [35:56] The trio moves on to the topic of nonverbal communication and how body language can be interpreted by the grieving family. They also discuss what a memorial exactly is and the specifics of 'Thank You' cards. Resources: O'Connell Funeral Homes O’Connell Funeral Homes Mike O'Connell Amber Miller Read Show Transcript Quotes: "Grief is unique to every single person." - Amber Miller "Grief and love are essentially cut from the same cloth...The more we love someone, the more we grieve them. And it's okay to be sad, it's okay to grieve, it's okay to feel any emotion you feel with grief." - Amber Miller "Follow your heart, follow your gut." - Mike O'Connell
May 31, 2022
How Cemeteries Make Resting in Peace Possible
In this episode of The Good Grief podcast, Mike O'Connell and Amber Miller get into cemeteries' important role in providing a final resting place for people's loved ones. They discuss the process of creating these final resting places, from deciding on the type of burial to personalizing the space to create a meaningful and lasting tribute. They also dive into the details of securing a cemetery plot and what one can expect when visiting a loved one's final resting place. This episode provides listeners with an informative and compassionate look at the role of cemeteries in the grieving process. Takeaways: One's final resting place can be beneficial for the loved ones they have left behind, providing a space for grief and healing. Cemeteries aren't just about providing a space for the deceased, but also about memorializing and honoring them. In this episode [2:29] Host Pete Waggoner asks about the importance of cemeteries given the rise of other forms of memorialization, such as keeping the cremated remains at home. Mike O'Connell shares about his personal experience of finding peace and an opportunity to memorialize his loved ones at cemeteries and talks about the role that these spaces play in the grieving and healing journey. [5:49] Amber Miller talks about how finding peace in the daily hustle and bustle of life can be a challenge. She shares how the peace and solace that cemeteries offer is something that can be beneficial for people who are grieving or simply looking for a moment of respite. [10:33] Pete asks Mike O'Connell about the differences between columbarium, crypts, and other types of burial options available these days. [15:30] Amber talks about the different ways people can personalize their loved ones' markers and monuments, and how churches and cemeteries have different rules about what kind of items are allowed. [22:48] Mike and Amber get into the details of what people can leave on their loved one's resting place such as wind chimes, trinkets, and plant stands. Mike also mentions how there are cemetery flower companies nowadays that even help with the upkeep of fresh flowers on the site. Resources O'Connell Funeral Homes O’Connell Funeral Services Mike O'Connell Amber Miller Quotes "It's a place we go to memorialize." -Mike O'Connell on cemeteries "Once you do something it's permanent. So give it thought, make sure it's meaningful." -Mike O'Connell
May 05, 2022
Memorializing Your Loved Ones with Tattoos
In this episode of The Good Grief podcast, host Pete Waggoner sits with Mike O'Connell and guest, Lori Christopherson to discuss how tattoos can be used as a form of memorializing and honoring a loved one. Mike shares how he discovered Everence, a company that creates personalized tattoo ink additives with a loved one's DNA. Lori talks about her own healing process after the loss of her son and how Mike's suggestion of a tattoo was instrumental in her finding peace and closure. The episode offers listeners vulnerable and honest insight into how tattoos can be therapeutic for those working through grief and how the process of memorializing a loved one can be different for everyone. Takeaways: Every person grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Tattoos can be a helpful part of the grieving and healing process as they offer a physical, tangible, and lasting way to keep a loved one's memory alive. The act of memorializing a loved one can be healing for both the person getting the tattoo as well as for those who see it and are reminded of the individual being honored. In this episode [1:25] Host, Pete Waggoner delves into the history of tattoos and how they were used as a form of protection from bad spirits and diseases, especially for pregnant women, thousands of years ago. [3:31] Mike talks about how the loss of a loved one can make people feel powerless and how getting a tattoo can be a way of regaining a sense of control. [8:46] Lori shares her experience in finding the perfect way to memorialize her son and how Mike has helped her in the process. She talks about the different options she's tried and considered such as a necklace pendant but ultimately decided that a tattoo would be the most meaningful for her. [18:16] Lori further talks about her healing process after the loss of her son and how getting the tattoo has been an integral part of that. [23:06] Pete Waggoner wraps up the show by asking Lori how grateful she is for the opportunity and what getting the tattoo has meant for her. Resources: O'Connell Funeral Homes Mike O'Connell Lori Christopherson Everence Jewelry & Tattoos
April 14, 2022
A day in the life of a funeral director
There is no other job like a funeral director. In celebration of National Funeral Director and Morticians Recognition Day on March 11th, we would like to honor what funeral directors do for us. You don’t want just anyone to care for your loved one when they have passed on, you want someone empathetic, reverent, kind, and reliable to be there for you and your family. Today's podcast highlights the team of funeral directors at O’Connell Family Funeral Homes. You'll hear answers to the following questions from Abbie Pickerign, Amber Miller, Mike O'Connell, and Austin Mahanke. What inspired you to become a funeral director? Have you ever felt like you wanted to change careers? What are the misconceptions in this industry? Are there any ghost stories you've encountered? What are your hours? Would you advise your bf to go into the business? Tell us how you feel after a service is over. How does pre-planning help a family? Listen now to learn more about the real lives of the funeral directors at O'Connell Family Funeral Homes and take a look at what a day in the life is like. Blog Abbie Pickerign Amber Miller Mike O’Connell Austin Mahanke Pre-planning 10 questions you need to think about before your funeral #HugYourFuneralDirector
March 08, 2022
Merging locations to better serve local communities
To better accommodate Western Wisconsin communities, specifically Pierce County, as well as to offer a complete range of grief services, the locally owned and operated O’Connell Family Funeral Homes are merging their St. Croix and Pierce County locations in Hudson, Baldwin, Ellsworth, Prescott, and River Falls. The Pierce County funeral homes, previously owned by Tom & Mike O’Connell and a partner, will now be run solely by the O'Connell Family and their dedicated staff. Each site will remain open and, with their unification, will now have the benefit of streamlined operations and consistent offerings, including on-site cremation. “We aren’t trying to get bigger,” says funeral director Mike O’Connell, “only looking to assist the surrounding areas with more resources, while continuing to treat every family as if they were our own. We have great overlap between the families we serve in Hudson & Baldwin and with the communities of Pierce County. It only made sense to bring them all together so we can serve the communities even better.” The O’Connell family has a long and trusted relationship with Hudson, starting with Frank O’Connell back in 1926. One of the first graduates of the University of Minnesota Mortuary Science program, he opened a mortuary in Hudson that operated until the end of World War II. In 1985, Frank’s nephew, Thomas P. "Tucker" O'Connell, brought the family business back to Hudson. With the help of his two sons, Dan and Mike, they worked diligently to reconnect with the community and provide much-needed services. And, like the Irish Claddagh in their logo, they honor what's important to all of us - Love, Loyalty, and Friendship - when celebrating a life lived. Although Tom and Dan have since passed, their legacy lives on. Mike and his team continue their tradition of exemplary personal care and commitment to the families of St. Croix and Pierce Counties, as well the greater Western Wisconsin area and beyond, including Minnesota. One of the most important and significant results of the merger is the accessibility to the on-site crematory at the Baldwin location – a dignified option for all families working with any of the O’Connell locations. According to their website, “In response to our growing unease when using an off-site crematorium for our families, [we] opened our own state-of-the-art crematory in 2005.” “The result has been overwhelming. We control EVERY aspect of the process while offering an unparalleled customized service for each family at an affordable price.” A local crematory operated by a small funeral business reduces the need for sending the deceased increasingly far away or even out-of-state for cremations to be handled by untrained individuals. The cremations at Baldwin are operated solely by licensed funeral directors and those with Crematory Operator training, and even by the same staff who have walked with the families earlier during the funeral arranging process. This familiarity for families creates consistency and a commitment for exceptional care. Head to our website to read the full blog.
February 24, 2022
Obituaries - a guide to a purposefully lived life
Obituaries are not only used in death – they can also be a guide to a purposefully lived life. In this podcast, Mike O’Connell reflects on the inspiration he draws from the poem, “Success,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and how writing your own obituary can provide you with life-changing self-evaluations. If you sat down today to write your own obituary, essentially the resume of your life, would you feel satisfied by how you lived? If you died today, would you die happy? Did you create a legacy you are proud of? Whatever the answers to these questions, penning an obituary and a fantasy obituary (explained in the podcast) will inevitably generate countless, soul-searching questions that lead to thoughtful examinations of your life. It is never too late for life changes, achieving goals, or finding additional happiness. Listen to Mike walk you through the exercise and enthusiastically shed light on possibilities and how to make them realities.
January 31, 2022
How to care for your grief during the holiday season.
The most wonderful time of the year, might not be the most wonderful time of the year for some people. Everyday stuff is overwhelming us and the holidays can be dreaded sometimes. Mike O'Connell presents 20 self care tips to help you through the holidays and to care for your grief.
December 07, 2021
The importance of celebrating a life
Celebration of life vs. funeral and memorial service. How these terms have evolved as well as some ideas on how to blend these types of service, as a way to confront our emotions and start the healing process.
November 16, 2021
How to Help a Grieving Friend & What is NOT Helpful.
How to help a grieving friend. In today's episode, Kathy Helgeson, a certified funeral celebrant at O’Connell Family Funeral Homes, joins us to discuss how to help a grieving friend. What’s helpful. What’s not. How shifting your view could help you, as well as someone grieving the loss of a loved one. Links: Meet Kathy https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/about-us/kathleen-helgeson/
October 01, 2021
Benefits of pre-arranging your funeral
Mike O'Connell talks about pre-arranging for your funeral. Why should you pre-arrange? What are the benefits? In this episode, we also answer some nagging questions like, Can I make changes to my funeral policy after it is completed? Do I need to prepay? What sort of things will I be asked?
September 03, 2021
Getting what you want, even after death. Mike O'Connell & Pete talk about how to make a funeral personalized to not only pay tribute to your loved one, but help the family. Hear some personal stories about how Mike and his amazing team helped families personalize their loved ones gatherings, including how Mike personalized his brother Dan's funeral. This was the beginning of his understanding on how meaningful personalization was for him and the family. He knew he needed to educate other families and give ideas on how they could do the same for their loved ones, even when they didn't think it would be possible. We all have a story to tell! Listen how Veteran, Military, Police, Firefighters, fisherman, and sports fans have made funerals personal to them. Vikings fans may not want to listen.
August 07, 2021
Questions a funeral director asks
In today's episode, we discuss what questions and information funeral directors will ask you when planning a funeral. Many people have told us, "We thought this was going to be emotionally drawn out, and it was way better than I thought." We want this podcast to elevate your anxiety surrounding what this meeting will entail. You'll learn the 3 segments that a funeral director is going to ask when you meet. Legal aspect Personal Person How do we celebrate this person We want to help educate you so you can make informed decisions about the service of your loved one.
July 31, 2021
Choosing the right funeral home
A Difficult Decision Picking a funeral home is one of the greatest decisions that you'll make in your life, one which will significantly impact your last memories of your loved ones, so you want to be sure you're making the right choice. There are many things that many of us don't consider when choosing a funeral home, and today's podcast addresses those factors. We delve deep into the questions we should be asking ourselves as we are trying to pick the right funeral home. Questions such as: How long has the funeral home been in business? Is it locally owned? Does it require payment upfront? Do they serve state-assisted and Medicaid families? Do they have a good website and social media presence? How are the online reviews? How well are the guests treated during funeral services? Check out today's podcast, where we discuss these and many more factors.
June 23, 2021
Funerals for Veterans
Memorial Day is right around the corner so we created a podcast episode dedicated to the brave men and women that give so much to our country. On this episode, we share an event we have coming up on May 27th - "Haircuts for Heroes". From 11AM - 3PM, we'll be offering haircuts to veterans and active military personnel at our Hudson Chapel. We'll also have food trucks and resources available, as well as tents, to prevent any rain from spoiling the fun! A special thank you to Your Hair Mob and All Seasons Rental of Hudson for donating their time and equipment to make this event possible! Throughout the podcast, we discuss the origins of Memorial Day and the customs and traditions surrounding military funerals, such as the 3-volley rifle salute and the symbolism of the folds in the American flag. We also address some aspects regarding funeral etiquette at military funerals and the benefits that veterans might be entitled to, like reimbursements for funeral and cremation services. Links mentioned in this episode: Your Hair Mob's website. All Seasons Rental's website. VA's website.
May 25, 2021
Funeral etiquette...What to wear, what to say...
Funeral etiquette isn't something that most people spend a lot of time thinking about, but the truth is that it can help grieving families have the best possible experience throughout the deep pain surrounding the death of a loved one. In today's episode we share many of the unspoken rules surrounding the proper conduct we should have when dealing with someone that is grieving over the loss of a loved one, during a visitation or a funeral service.
March 26, 2021
Should I donate my body to science?
Body donation is a mysterious topic for many of us, despite its essential role in saving lives, and in today's episode we'd like to change that. Today we'll be discussing what body donation is, the different types of body donation, what health conditions prevent us from donating our bodies, if we can choose what our body is going to be used for, etc.
March 09, 2021
Flowers for funerals
Funerals without flowers... sounds weird, doesn't it? Most of us haven't been to that many funerals where flowers weren't a part of the decoration... and for good reason. In today's episode, Shelli Erck, from Hudson Flower Shop, joins us in a interesting discussion regarding this topic. We delve deep into the history of funeral flowers, their significance and the roles they play in funeral services, things we should consider when choosing flowers, flower keepsakes, etc. Links mentioned in this episode: Hudson Flower Shop's website.
February 24, 2021
Grief and the holidays
Grieving over the loss of a loved one is already an unimaginable painful experience. But to go through it during the holiday season feels even harder, for many of us. In today's episode, Kathy Helgeson, a certified funeral celebrant at OCFH, joins us in a heartfelt discussion regarding this sensitive topic. We talk about the difference between grief and mourning, what are the "tasks" of grief, how to approach those who are grieving, how to deal with grief during the holidays, the role of faith when we're grieving, etc. We also share some personal stories of grief and how exactly our team helps our clients overcome these difficult times. Links: Meet Kathy https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/about-us/kathleen-helgeson/ 12 questions for the holidays https://bit.ly/12_Questions_PDF 6 needs of mourning - Alan Wolfelt https://www.funeralbasics.org/the-6-needs-of-mourning/ 5-days of grief & the holidays meditation video series https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/holiday-grief/
December 02, 2020
Hospice care and end of life decisions
Hospice Care is a sensitive topic for many of us. As with pre-arranging a funeral, talking about hospice care can make us feel very uncomfortable; some of us might feel we are "giving up" on our loved ones when we begin to consider this specific approach. The truth is, hospice care can bring relief and even joy to our loved ones. There is a multitude of ways that we can use hospice care programs, from the location, frequency, and services used, so it makes total sense to consider it for our loved ones. In today's episode, our guest and social worker Kate Garza, from Moments Hospice, will discuss the specifics regarding hospice care and dispel some misconceptions about the topic. We'll also discuss some tools that we're developing at OCFH, such as 12 questions for the holidays (a free PDF that will help spark interesting and important discussions these holidays), as well as a set of Grief-focused meditations that will bring you to a better place and help you let go. Resources: 12 questions for the holidays (free PDF): https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/ocfh-holiday-promo/ 5-days of grief & the holidays (free meditation video series): https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/holiday-grief/ Moments Hospice - (763)-205-3600 https://momentshospice.com/ Moments Hospice serves the Minnesota and Wisconsin river areas, with a team in the area with over 130 years of healthcare experience collectively including over 48 years in Hospice. Their Medical Directors in the area are Dr. Mark Stannard and Dr. Matthew Beeson of Hudson Physicians Group. The team at Moments Hospice is focused on Changing the Hospice Experience, One Moment at Time, hoping to bring joy and comfort to patients, their families and the communities they serve.
December 01, 2020
Estate planning is one of those topics that often come up as we grow older, but, contrary to what many people might think, this is something that everybody should do - not just those of us who are wealthy. No matter how big or modest your assets are - you can and you should take advantage of this strategy, even if you just have a bank account under your name. Estate planning helps prevent future annoyances and conflicts within our family, and it's definitely something that you and your loved ones should consider doing as you grow older. In today's episode, our guest and elder law attorney, Dr. Amy K. Greske, will discuss several estate planning tools that we have at our disposal and why we might need to set them up, such as wills, trust funds, power of attorney documents, etc. Resources: Dr. Amy's phone number: 715-808-0610 Dr. Amy's website: https://oneillelderlaw.com/
August 07, 2020
Suicide deaths define complicated grief. The stigma surrounding suicide and the complex feelings of guilt, shame, and anger that many grievers experience when a loved one kills themselves, makes it that much harder to go through the grieving process. In today's episode, we discuss what research says about suicide and the motivations of those who attempt suicide, and we also share tips on how we can approach the grievers that are left behind after a loved one takes their own life. Resources: OCFH: 715-386-3725 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
July 03, 2020
Childhood grief, children & grieving
Different types of loss and grief children and adolescents may experience and how we can help guide them. Joining us, we have our friend and colleague, grief therapist Kelly Grosklags, who will be sharing several tips to help us guide our children throughout these painful times. Resources: Kelly's website - https://bit.ly/Kelly_Grosklags Brighter Days Grief Center - https://bit.ly/Brighter_Days_Center
June 04, 2020
Helping the healing process with our new grief therapy dog, Finnegan.
Meet Finnegan, our new grief therapy dog. Learn how he helps in processing grief, and healing in today's podcast. Learn more on our website.
May 08, 2020
Grief resources during COVID-19.
You can’t push pause on grief. COVID-19 has brought much distress to families all over the country and changed our daily lives tremendously. In these trying times, it's much harder to deal with the already stressful situations that affect us all, such as grieving the loss of a loved one. In today's podcast episode, we talk about how we can deal with grief in these COVID-19 times and how our company is adapting our procedures to help everyone stay safe. We'll also be sharing useful tips from our friend and colleague, grief therapist, Kelly Grosklags. bit.ly/Grief_covid19 Facebook: @CWKHeals
April 03, 2020
Death & your financial stability
Death & your financial stability Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful enough. But not knowing what to do with someone's finances after the person has passed away poses an additional burden on a grieving family. What you'll learn: • One key element you need to know • What documents you need • Get a list of who needs to be contacted What do we need to know? Surround yourself with people you trust. Others may see vulnerability, so make sure those helping have the right motives and nothing for personal gain. Consult the right people. Friends and family may have their hearts in their right place, but when someone says "I know a guy who could helpâ€ can create more work with fewer advantages! Select professionals who specialize in wills, trusts, and estate planning. Avoid real estate lawyers, divorce lawyers, personal injury or criminal attorneys, and others who don't specialize in estate planning as they may not know the tax laws that are constantly changing. After a loved one dies, many heirs balk at hiring legal help because they worry about the cost. But that's often a penny wise and a pound foolish since advice from a qualified professional could save an estate many thousands of dollars, make the process of settling an estate much easier and help family members avoid potential liabilities. One of the most time-consuming aspects of tending to the financial affairs of someone who has passed away is gathering the litany of documents that need to be assembled. For many families, this is a nightmare chore due to haphazard record-keeping, poor planning and a lack of knowledge about where critical documents are located. What are the important papers that one should keep or need: After a person's death, an executor of an estate should collect or order the following documents, at a minimum: Death certificate(s). All these documents will help you find accounts and assets, and assess outstanding debts, as well as submit claims for benefits and cash payments that may be due the deceased person's beneficiaries and heirs. Will or trust Insurance policies (life, homeowners, health, disability, auto, etc.) Last credit card statements Investment accounts (IRAs, 401(k) plans, mutual funds, pensions, etc.) Last checking and savings account statements (including CDs and money-market accounts) Last mortgage statement Last two years' tax returns Marriage and birth certificates (of the deceased's spouse and children) An up-to-date credit report of the deceased Who needs to be contacted: A key next step is to notify all the following places of the individual's death. Each is important for different reasons. Social Security Administration The deceased person's employer Insurance companies Credit bureaus Credit card companies Post office Utility companies Creditors Cancel or Transfer Accounts, Memberships, and Subscriptions Following someone's death, you don't want subscriptions, memberships or services they'll no longer be using to stay in force. So cancel those immediately, along with credit card, insurance and financial accounts that will be inactive. "If the person was married, transfer the power, electricity and water bills that may be in their name to their surviving spouse."
March 06, 2020
Why self-care is important when you are grieving.
Self-Care What is self-care. How self-care works. Tips on what you can do about it. What you can do about it Be kind to yourself. Love Yourself. Don’t beat yourself up through words, thoughts and deeds. Get a check-up. Communicate. Be yourself. Let those around you know how you are feeling. Let people know if you need space or are not feeling up to something. Let your feelings arise and deal with them. Don’t let them fester. Pamper yourself. Sleep is key to healthy healing. Nutrition and staying hydrated. Exercise. Stay positive. Surround yourself with people for who you are. Pets can also give you a positive boost. Look around at nature. Volunteering or donating. Express your feelings Meditation Praying Reflection Journal writing Music - create a playlist or learn how to play an instrument. Deep breathing Cooking Reading Peer or group counseling
February 07, 2020
Funeral pre-arranging can be overwhelming.
Mike O'Connell talks about guiding you through the pre-arrangement process of a funeral. FREE PDF Download: 10 things to think about before your funeral. http://bit.ly/10thingsPreArrange Learn more on our website: https://oconnellfuneralhomes.com/prearranging/funeral-pre-arrangements/ WHY PRE-ARRANGE? O’Connell Family Funeral Homes knows families have the best intentions when having to plan a funeral, but sometimes people have different opinions on what they think their loved ones might have wanted - thus causing conflict. Intense emotions, personality conflicts, and financial pressures to pay for services can bring additional stressors. Pre-arranging your funeral assures that your family will not be burdened with any further grief of making choices that you could make in a pre-arranging session. Pre-arrange today!
January 06, 2020