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Main Office: (913) 371-4040 | Topeka: (785) 272-0820 | Pre-planning info: (913) 344-7527

Sacred Spaces

Facebook and End-of-life Planning: Steps to ensure your accounts are handled according to your wishes

Shortly after its meteoric rise in popularity, Facebook found itself facing issues with accounts of people who had passed away. Keeping outsiders from posting on the pages, removing the pages entirely, and granting access to loved ones who wished to manage the pages was a tricky business. Now, Facebook has procedures in place so its members can designate a legacy contact, request that their account be permanently deleted, or memorialize the account after their death.

A legacy contact is allowed to monitor and manage an account after the death of its owner. The legacy contact can also request that the account be removed. Why would you want to designate a legacy contact? Your legacy contact may want to pin a post on your page to with a final message to friends and family or to disseminate information about the memorial service. Also, family and friends who join Facebook after your death may find comfort in reading your memorialized account—it’s sort of an online scrapbook. Your legacy contact must accept these friend requests for those people to gain access.

To get to the Legacy settings, open Facebook, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner, and choose Settings near the bottom of the menu (just above Log Out). The last choice under General Account Settings is Manage Account. Click anywhere on that line, and you will see choices called “Your Legacy Contact,” “Data Archive Permission,” “Request Account Deletion” and “Deactivate Account.” The first three sections are related to the account after you pass away. However, the last (Deactivate Account) should only be selected if you want to deactivate your account immediately rather than after your death. To have Facebook delete your account after your death, click on “Request Account Deletion” in the third section and follow the instructions there. A legacy contact should still be designated so that someone will be able to help manage your account’s activity and/or deletion in the event of your death.

If you’re still unsure what to do, follow this link to see Facebook’s help instructions for managing legacy and deactivation decisions:

https://www.facebook.com/help/1070665206293088?helpref=faq_content

Pre-planning: The Benefits Outweigh the Hurdles

Why do we assume that planning for our funeral should be someone else’s responsibility? Too often, we don’t want to deal with thoughts of our own death. We avoid it—putting it off for “some other time.” But, regardless of our reluctance to deal with it, our eventual demise isn’t an “if;” it’s a “when.” And leaving end-of-life planning off our to-do list just leaves a burden on loved ones and family, weighing on them at time already filled with grief and stress.

Answering hard questions and putting planning into understandable terms is just what the counselors at Catholic Cemeteries do. If you’re looking for someone to help you sort out the decisions, these are the people to turn to. Let’s break the considerations into three categories: spiritual, emotional and financial.

Spiritual

Our life is a gift from God. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, St. Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The body, the vessel within which the Holy Spirit has dwelled, should be treated properly in death as well as life. When someone we love passes away, our Catholic faith guides us in honoring their body with respect and care. If you want to ensure that your beliefs and values are the top priority at your funeral and burial, pre-planning is the best way to do that. Even with cremation, the Church provides for proper care and respect of the ashes. More thorough instruction regarding treatment of the body when cremation is chosen (as well as insight regarding the choice of burial) can be found in the bulletin Ad Resurgendum cum Christo, released by the Holy See Press Office in October 2016.

Emotional

When you are planning your funeral and burial, keep in mind that you are giving others an opportunity to remember and celebrate your life. Planning for end-of-life needs can be stressful regardless of whether it is done well in advance or at the time of need. However, when the deceased has pre-planned, grieving family members are spared the pressure of making tough decisions at a stressful time, giving them an added measure of comfort. Mourners also receive the gift of knowing the deceased prepared the funeral and burial with the mourners in mind. When pre-planning, one can give careful thought to their own funeral mass, a celebration which does not simply support the grieving but gives loved ones an opportunity to lift up prayers for the repose of the soul of the departed.

Financial

It is wise to first plan the disposition of the body or ashes and then plan the funeral. Why? Sacred ground, the Catholic cemetery, is the destination, the end goal. Expenses associated with disposition, while less extensive than funeral costs, are more concrete. The funeral is the journey. It is the celebration of life, the offering of a mass, the opportunity for mourners to share memories. Because funeral planning has so many variables, the associated expenses are more malleable. Once you know what you will be spending on the cemetery expenses, you have a better idea what you can budget for the funeral.

Additionally, Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas can offer interest-free payment plans for almost all burial/interment expenses. Paying over time reduces the financial burden and settles an issue that is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Occasionally, families desire to circumvent the cemetery by taking ashes home. The point should be made here again that Catholic Church teaching requires that ashes be properly interred. They may not be separated, scattered, or kept in any location other than a consecrated space in a cemetery. The body is awaiting resurrection in Christ at the second coming, and respect for the remains must be ensured in perpetuity.

Whether the spiritual, emotional or financial benefits of pre-planning appeal most to you, I hope that this blog has given you more clarity on the benefits of pre-planning. Please reach out to me at kmitchell@cathcemks.org if I can help answer your questions. Or, if you would like more information from one of our experienced counselors, click this link.

Where do I start? Practical considerations for Catholics faced with the loss of a loved one

“Where do I start?” Faced with the loss of a loved one, family members often grapple with taking the first steps. Families want to know that their loved one will be respectfully cared for, even after death, by ensuring dignified treatment of all arrangements that takes into account Catholic beliefs, expectations and traditions.

When confronted with the question of where to start, consider whether the deceased has already made burial and funeral arrangements. If not, Catholic Cemeteries is one of the first calls to make. Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, provides experienced guidance, planning and support for families facing the unknown of funeral and burial planning. The counselors at Catholic Cemeteries can help with making decisions that are less costly (for example, choices related to entombment and to caskets or urns). The counselors also give families an understanding of all the decisions that go into preparing a Catholic funeral and burial and personally walk the family through the multitude of considerations that must be addressed.

After contacting Catholic Cemeteries, a family member should contact a licensed funeral director to arrange the funeral. The funeral director will arrange such necessities as transporting the body, obtaining a death certificate, preparing the obituary, and arranging the visitation, funeral mass and committal service. Both Catholic Cemeteries and the funeral director can offer helpful grief support resources for the bereaved.

Follow up with the employer of the deceased. The employer can apprise the family of the deceased’s benefits, any pay due, insurance eligibility for dependents, and steps related to life insurance policies. If the deceased had a life insurance policy aside from work (such as through a union, professional service organization, or private insurance), follow up with the insurance agent or company to file a claim. Additionally, the Social Security Administration should be notified of the death, and benefits eligibility for dependents can be addressed at this time.

A variety of important paperwork, including the will or trust, should be gathered and processed once funeral and burial arrangements are begun. Settling the estate, executing the will, filing a final tax return, closing bank accounts, and reconciling any loans such as mortgage or vehicle all will be important tasks to consider within the process.

The emotional stress of losing a loved one is often compounded by the financial and legal stress of making arrangements and settling private affairs. Grief counselors and clergy can support family and friends during this difficult time. Pre-planning for the funeral and burial can also help alleviate stress by reducing the myriad of decisions and ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are understood and carried out. Catholic Cemeteries counselors help many families before their time of need. Those who want to plan their own funeral and burial and make the decisions for themselves can find beneficial resources and counselors at Catholic Cemeteries.

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at kmitchell@cathcemks.org.

Growing up? Growing old? Discussions about dying are tough but necessary

Have you found yourself “adulting”? Or, do you respond to the phrase “millennial”? Maybe you think of yourself as “middle-aged”? If you fall into one of these categories, you may have also noticed that your parents are getting older. They realize it, you realize it, but often nobody wants to talk about it. It seems weird. Awkward. Vulnerable.

It’s possible your parents want to open up to you about it. You don’t have to listen—you can deflect. You’re too old to listen “just because they said so.” But you’re also old enough to recognize that they are in the planning stages and engage in a gentle, mature discussion about their wishes and feelings.

They’re not planning like when you went to college, nor is it like planning a weekend with the grandchildren. They’re planning for their end-of-life needs, and even if you feel uncomfortable talking—or just thinking—about it, it may be time to listen. Otherwise, how will you honor their wishes, and their life, when they are gone? As people age, they grow in wisdom. Parents gain lots of wisdom raising children, but once their children are adults, they don’t stop growing in wisdom.

They are processing, thinking about the big questions, deciding some of the most important questions of their life—and their eternal life. They are facing a part of their heritage that will remain for the generations. Their burial could be one of the most important long-term decisions they make. They are vulnerable. And so are you. Now is the time to open up to them, allow yourself to be vulnerable with your parents (even though it’s hard), and really honor them by listening to their wishes.

This is your chance to respond honestly to the questions they have for you—the questions that will help them determine how to best honor you when you celebrate their life and their passing—and make a plan for burial. Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas, a nonprofit ministry that is part of the Archdiocese of Kansas, can help with this journey and ensure that the most important considerations are included in these decisions. Catholic Cemeteries’ experienced counselors provide their own wisdom, support you in your vulnerability, and create a plan that establishes an appropriate celebration of life and opportunity to mourn for a loved one so you don’t find yourself emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted in the rush of decisions that comes when families put off tough decisions for another day.

If you don’t know how to approach the subject, chances are your parents are feeling the same way. Maybe they have brought it up before. Skirted the issue. Hinted about it. Watch for these opportunities, and engage with them. Better yet, share this blog with them. If they’re not tech savvy, print it out and leave it in the kitchen or by the recliner. Highlight a couple of phrases. Let them know you’re there for them. Face the unknown, and walk away with a strengthened bond. Don’t wait until your loved ones are gone to wonder how they might have liked to be remembered.

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at kmitchell@cathcemks.org.

Looking for something special to do for Lent?

Consider these five ways to remember your loved ones during this time of preparation.

Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. If this Lent has you thinking about how to extend corporal and spiritual works of mercy into your life, here are five ideas that are simple but rewarding.

1. Offer a mass for a deceased loved one. Many people contact their parish to have a daily or Sunday mass said for their loved one. This is a beautiful way to remember a special day, such as their birthday or date of passing. However, you don’t need a special day to offer a mass. Any day is a good day to offer a mass for the deceased. If your parish doesn’t offer a daily mass time that fits your schedule, consider noon mass at one of several parishes in the archdiocese, an evening mass, or Saturday morning mass.

2. Visit the cemetery with family members and share memories about the deceased. Take along a blanket to sit on and/or flowers to leave at the gravesite (for rules regarding memorializations at different types of interment spaces, click here). Share memories, special stories, photograph albums or songs that have a special place in the remembrance of your loved one.

3. Attend a funeral for someone who doesn’t have many family or friends to attend. This mass is offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Your parish priest or receptionist can give you guidance about funerals where attendance may be low due to age or distance. Don’t feel shy about attending, as your prayers for the deceased are invaluable.

4. Be open to listening to the funeral and burial plan arrangements your elderly loved ones may have. Help reassure them that you understand their wishes. Engage gently in a discussion with family members. Even those who are not anticipating an approaching death may have ideas they want to communicate about their funeral and burial ideas.

5. At prayer time at home, light a candle for family members you have lost. Encouraging children to create their own special prayer for deceased loved ones can create a lasting tradition in your family. Or, share a prayer such as this well-known one: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

These scripture readings on the topic of death and dying are recommended by the USCCB and may help facilitate a family discussion regarding the topic, which is particularly appropriate during Lent.

Job 19:23-27

Psalms 23, 91 and 121

1 John 4:16

Revelation 21:1-7

Matthew 25:1-13

Luke 22:39-46

Luke 23:44-49

Luke 24:1-8

John 6:37-40

John 14:16, 23, 27

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at kmitchell@cathcemks.org.

 

Why choose a Catholic cemetery?

What makes a Catholic cemetery special? The answer may seem obvious—it’s Catholic. But the differences between a Catholic cemetery and a Catholic interment space in another cemetery are not always clear.

A Catholic cemetery is one that has been sanctified and set apart for God by the bishop at its inception. Whereas in a non-Catholic cemetery, the interment space is consecrated for a Catholic at the committal service by the presiding priest, the entire grounds of a Catholic cemetery are designated from the start as a sacred space and consecrated by the presiding bishop at that time.

Catholic teachings, history and tradition are reflected in beautiful works of art throughout the cemetery. While spending time visiting a deceased loved one, family and friends are consoled by sculptures, stained glass, and memorial gardens carrying comforting depictions such as saints, the resurrection, stations of the cross and rosary areas.

Catholics can take comfort and consolation in the assurance of masses for loved ones buried in a Catholic cemetery. This may be one of the most compelling reasons to choose a Catholic cemetery. Masses are held on the grounds of the Catholic cemeteries several times a year, and all those buried there are remembered. Catholic Cemeteries arranges masses and events at its cemeteries for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and All Souls Day.

These holiday masses are facilitated by volunteers who assist with parking and logistics and are trained to answer questions, guide visitors and make the experience pleasant and memorable. Families, including children, are welcome to participate and enjoy the grounds before and after mass, visiting gravesites of loved ones, decorating memorial tablets with flowers or other special items, and visiting memorial gardens, statues and prayer areas. Enjoying a picnic together on the grounds in set-aside areas was a traditional highlight of the Memorial Day holiday even into the middle of the Twentieth Century. Those who would like to carry on this tradition are welcomed by Catholic Cemeteries to do so in areas where burials have yet to take place.

Another compelling reason to choose a Catholic cemetery is that the income of the perpetual care fund ensures the grounds will be cared for in perpetuity. The cemeteries, also known as memorial parks, are kept accessible and beautiful by year-round staff. Catholic Cemeteries staff also places purchased memorials on spaces and removes worn memorializations (such as flowers and balloons) according to set guidelines and procedures. The organization coordinates and oversees the addition and upkeep of buildings, statues, memorials, trees and landscaping on these cemeteries. The public is welcome and encouraged to visit the cemeteries to enjoy the serene and sacred spaces created with mindfulness toward prayer, reflection, sharing memories and coping with the loss of a loved one.

The nine cemeteries administered by Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas were originally designated by specific parishes but are now under the direction of the archdiocese. Many Catholic cemeteries can be visited near the church which originally designated the area, while other, newer, cemeteries—such as Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa and Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Kansas City—are easily accessible from major highways. While burial in a sacred Catholic cemetery is a priority for the faithful, non-Catholic spouses and family members are allowed burial in Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas as well. Check with counseling staff for full details and availability.

These cemeteries can be visited in person or seen virtually through videos on our website at www.cathcemks.org. Click here for cemetery hours and locations.

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at kmitchell@cathcemks.org.