5 Condolences: holiday traditions

Starting a new family tradition – visiting historic Long Grove, IL after Thanksgiving

Two years ago, my aunt was killed by a drunk driver. Our family quickly gathered at her house and spent the week informing friends and family of her death, arranging services, locating important paperwork, sorting her belongings to donate items to charity…the “to do” list seemed never-ending. 

In the midst of this week of busy and stressful tasks, we paused each night to light candles for Hanukkah.  Though it was not a tradition I grew up with, something about it brought me great peace and comfort.  And these brief gatherings each evening are one of the things I remember most fondly about that week with my family. 

Holiday traditions and rituals, even borrowed ones, can be very comforting.  Whether it’s eating special foods, lighting candles, or singing songs, traditions help us feel closer to loved ones. And when those loved ones pass away, carrying on those traditions helps us remember them and keep them close.

This week, we share five condolences about holiday traditions: Continue reading

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Grief during the holidays

November marks the beginning of the winter holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and Christmas through New Year’s, it’s a flurry of dinners, parties and gatherings as people come together to “celebrate the season.”

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/Dan Bock

For me, November also marks a season of anniversaries – anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones. Continue reading

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As Thanksgiving approaches this week, we’ve all been focusing on the things we’re thankful for. It’s a unique holiday, one that asks us to take a moment and forget about all the bad things that have happened over the past year, to forget about our small frustrations and large worries, and simply be thankful for what’s good. And there’s always something to be thankful for, even if it feels inconsequential in the shadow of a daunting year. Even if we’re grieving for someone we miss very much, even if we’re struggling with money or illness or unemployment, for one day we’re asked to stop and find the positives in our lives. It’s a powerful request, one that can be humbling as we stop to think about all that we do actually have.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/tsuacctnt

For the past two years, we’ve asked Legacy.com team members to share the things they’re thankful for. We’ve been so pleased to hear from our truly thankful colleagues each year – you can visit last year’s post here and the 2010 post here. We asked again this year, and once again, we received responses that are thoughtful, grateful, and moving. And sometimes funny, too – because it helps to keep a sense of humor, always! Continue reading

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Inspiration for smokers

November 15th is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout – an annual event designed to encourage people to stop smoking. It is intended to both provide tips and support for those attempting to quit, but also to draw attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking.

We at Legacy.com wanted to do our part by sharing an obituary that has inspired smokers to quit.

Before his death from lung cancer, Val Patterson wrote his own obituary. The shocking confessions he included caused his obituary to go viral. But it was this paragraph that really struck us: 

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the “thief” now – for stealing so much from her – there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

And it struck our readers as well. Here are some of the responses received in his Guest Book: Continue reading

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Kitchen table memories

I bought mine at a second-hand store.  It’s Pepto-Bismol pink, although the paint is worn from pink to white to bare wood along the edges, hinting at past incarnations and the tastes of previous owners.  It is wobbly and, despite being well-scrubbed, home to several stubborn, ring-shaped stains—the ghosts of only three among the countless cups of tea I’ve had to drink there. It is the site of some of my best memories and, as I’ve come to realize while screening guest book entries for Legacy.com over the past two years, I am not alone in that feeling.  People come to the guest books to share their favorite memories of loved ones, and what so many of those memories have in common is that—whether they are about men or women, teachers, surgeons, artists, war veterans, or race car drivers—they happened around a kitchen table.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/liberalmind1012

Continue reading

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A fond farewell to a Texas icon

Photo submitted to Big Tex’s Guest Book

An October 19th fire brought an end to Big Tex’s reign as the most recognizable icon of the State Fair of Texas.  When the story broke, Dallas Morning News created an online obituary and Guest Book for him. Condolences and memories started pouring in from fans across the country.

What’s special about this story? Big Tex was a fictional character – a 52-foot tall statue.  And I have to say, that’s a first for Legacy.com.  Our team of screeners got busy reviewing condolence messages, and quickly discovered this was no ordinary Guest Book.  

We think Big Tex would give a hearty laugh at some of the condolences he received. While we normally wouldn’t post such messages, we decided some amount of humor was acceptable in this particular Guest Book. For example: Continue reading

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5 Condolences: chili

Here in the Midwest, the temperature has plummeted in the last few weeks – it’s definitely fall. And you know what that means, right?

…Oh, sure, it means lots of things, but I’m thinking about CHILI. It’s finally time to make one of the greatest comfort foods known to man. Whether you prefer it spicy or mild, full of ground beef or vegetarian, in a bowl or over macaroni or on a hot dog, you’ve got to give props to chili – it’s the food most likely to inspire cook-offs in towns across the country. There are as many variants on chili as there are chili chefs, and as they say, variety is the spice of chili. (That’s what they say, right?)

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/jakeprzespo

In honor of one of my favorite fall foods, we’re sharing five condolences with fond chili memories. Continue reading

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Till Death Do Us Part…Really?

As a Content Screener, I have friends I’ve never met. A mom writes two of her children regularly. She lost one to suicide and the other in the 9/11 attacks. I can’t fathom her pain, but I feel it in her poetic entries. Another mom writes to her dearly departed adult son who was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Both a mom and dad write nightly to their 2 year-old son who died after being misdiagnosed. I hear from them every night. I’m the invisible third party witness to their devotion and faithfulness. All of these messages are heart wrenching. As the grandma of a 2-year-old cancer survivor, I am most affected by messages for children. It’s those entries that demand a time-out while I wipe away my tears.

But tears of sorrow make way for tears of joy. Nothing brings more joy to my heart than reading love letters from living spouse to departed spouse. Apparently, there are many decades-long enduring marriages despite hearing divorce stats ad nauseum. What an uplifting discovery for one who reads about death every day!

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/johnhope14

Continue reading

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Leaving a legacy of customer service

I remember my junior high school social studies teacher, Mr. Hall, telling us how different the world would be when my classmates and I grew up.  We were becoming a service-focused society, he said, and this would figure prominently in our future occupations. 

October is Customer Service Professionals Month, and reflecting on my career path, I’ve been thinking about Mr. Hall’s words.  I may not have consciously set out for a career in customer service, but now that this is what I do, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I love my job and the sense of satisfaction that comes with it.  Continue reading

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Think Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we at Legacy.com are dedicated to honoring all those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer.

Two new features debut today on our site. One is a small but meaningful and lovely remembrance – a pink candle you can light on the Guest Book. Continue reading

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