Here are some places on the Internet that we would like to share with you:
National Funeral Directors Assoc.
Ohio Funeral Directors Assoc.
How to Talk to the Children and Teens in Your Life About the Newtown, CT, Tragedy
How to Talk to the Children and Teens in Your Life About the Newtown, CT, Tragedy by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Once again we are faced with the traumatic, violent deaths of a group of innocent people, this time precious children in Newtown, Connecticut. I have been asked to provide some guidelines on how to communicate with children and teens about this tragedy. If you know of others who might benefit from this information, I invite you to forward this article to them.
First, it’s important to remember that children can cope with what they know, but they can’t cope with a reality they are over-protected from. As a father and as a counselor, I understand the instinct to want to protect children from such tragic news. But the reality is that many if not most of the children and teens in our lives (with the exception of the very youngest) have already heard about the recent school shooting from their peers, social media, or television. They have been exposed to the fact that 20 first-graders were shot by a stranger who barged into an elementary school. Many of them have also seen photos of the killer and of the children and teachers who were killed. Some may have read the horrific details of the massacre.
The point is, we cannot protect children from the tragedy, but we can let them teach us how they feel about it. As the caring adults in their lives, we have the responsibility to be available to them when they are struggling to understand what happened or if they have fears that the same thing could happen in their schools. We also have the responsibility to be honest with them within the boundaries of what is developmentally appropriate for a given child.
Listen (and observe), then respond
Watch the children in your life a little more closely this week and in the weeks to come. Notice if they are listening to news of the shooting, reading news online or in print, sharing stories that other kids have told them at school, or asking questions about the shooting. If it’s on their mind, or if you think it might be, then it’s your turn to ask a couple open-ended questions. "What have you heard about the school shooting that happened last week?" "Are the kids or teachers at your school talking about the kids who died in Connecticut?" You can also share your feelings: "I’ve been feeling sad about the children who were killed last week."
Also watch for a change in behavior. Children who are more irritable or aggressive than usual or who are complaining of physical ailments uncharacteristically may essentially be telling you that they have absorbed some of the nation’s horror and anxiety about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.
When ignored, children and teens feel all alone in their grief. Respond to them with sensitivity and warmth. Use a caring tone of voice; maintain eye contact when talking with and learning from them. This commitment to actively listening tells children that their feelings will be respected.
Remember that often kids don’t want to have a long conversation about the tragedy. They don’t want to be "talked at." But if they’re given the opportunity, many will tell you what’s on their mind, allowing you a glimpse into their reality. Respond based on what they tell you or show you through their behaviors. Use their words and level of understanding. Don’t over-explain. Keep it simple and honest and loving. Let them know you’re someone they can talk to about the tough things.
Also, some kids, especially younger ones, may truly not be concerned about the shooting because it seems like just another far-away story that doesn’t affect them. That’s why it’s important to listen and
observe, then respond. Allow for a discussion but don’t insist on one if the child isn’t telling or showing you she’s sad, anxious or perplexed. Let the child lead.
If a child is expressing, verbally or behaviorally, that she is afraid, reassure her that you and the other grown-ups in her life are doing everything you can to make sure that she is safe. Because it’s true, it’s OK to say, "This kind of thing almost never happens. It’s a one-in-a-million situation. You’re protected."
Teens are ready to handle the more nuanced truth, which is that safety can’t be 100 percent guaranteed in anything we do in life. Model living each day with boldness, resilience, meaning, and purpose for the teens in your life.
Many kids will find it helpful to review school safety and security procedures, and indeed, this is happening at schools across the country as I write this. Physically show them the security measures in place and step through the drills.
In the home, if a child seems to be regressing to the behaviors of younger kids—such as wanting to sleep with mom and dad, bedwetting, thumb-sucking, etc., these are signs that this child simply needs some extra attention right now. Don’t punish him for the regressive behaviors. Indulge them for now. And spend extra time with him in the coming days and weeks. Be available when he gets up, when he comes home from school, after dinner, and on weekends as much as you can.
Be the grown-up
We as a nation have been traumatized by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The multiple, violent deaths of precious young children and the adults who cared for them can result in intense feelings of shock, fear, anxiety and helplessness. Some of us confront these feelings by obsessively watching TV coverage of the event or talking about it with anyone and everyone.
While it’s normal and natural for us to try to integrate the reality of what happened in these ways, this kind of exposure may be too much for children. So limit your media viewing and conversation about the tragedy in front of your children. Younger kids, especially, don’t need to know and aren’t developmentally mature enough yet to handle all the details.
Be calm, reassuring, and positive. Be the caregiver. If you need to talk about your own thoughts and feelings about what happened, find another adult to talk to out of earshot of the kids. Never lie to children or hide the truth from them, but do limit their exposure.
Older kids, especially teens, may, like many adults, work through their thoughts and feelings by engaging with the national media and conversation about the shooting. Try watching the news together with these teens and talking about what you see. Be careful not to reverse roles. Don’t display your own grief so much that the child is forced to take care of you instead of the other way around. Seek outside support for yourself if you need it.
Search for meaning … together
As we all struggle to understand what can never be understood, we naturally turn to rituals and faith. If you attend a place of worship and there is a message about the shooting during the service, this may be helpful for your older child to hear. Model prayer, meditation, singing, spending time in nature or whichever activities are helpful to you in connecting to your spirituality. Attending a service or candle-lighting in memory of the children who died may be helpful for your family.
Participating in activities that connect us as humans can also be meaningful at this time. Children of all ages can participate in activities like making cards to send to the surviving children at Sandy Hook Elementary or supporting children in need in your own community through volunteer efforts like food or toy drives.
If a child wants to talk about where the children who died "went," be honest with her about your beliefs and ask her about hers. Encourage this conversation without feeling you need to know all the answers.
Thank you for being an adult who is committed to helping children learn to navigate our challenging times and emerge as resilient, communicative, and compassionate adults themselves. The world needs more communicators and compassion-givers. Perhaps if we work on these learned skills together, one day we will have no more need of articles like this one.
About the Author Dr. Alan Wolfelt is a respected author and educator on the topic of healing in grief. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School's Department of Family Medicine. A father of three, Dr. Wolfelt has written many bestselling books for and about grieving children and teens, including Healing Your Grieving Heart for Kids, Healing A Child’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends, and Caregivers, and Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens. Visit www.centerforloss.com to learn more about helping children in grief and to order Dr. Wolfelt’s books.
When Families Grieve
When Families Grieve was created as part of Sesame Street's Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect initiative, the goal of which is to help families cope with difficult transitions. Sesame's outreach initiatives harness the power of the Sesame Street Muppets to aid in the communication between adults and children through strategies and language that are child appropriate and useful for the whole family.
Department of Veterans Affairs
You may click the link above to go directly to the VA website. However, many common questions related to Burial Benefits are answered below.Who is eligible? To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office at (800) 827-1000 for more information. How do you apply? Veterans benefits are not paid automatically. It is your responsibility to contact the Veterans Administration. To ensure prompt handling of your claim, have the following information ready: • Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children • Certified copy of original DD214 (Enlisted Record and Report of Separation) • Certified copy of Death Certificate • Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of the veterans death • Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable • Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses • If either yourself or the veteran was previously married, provide a certified copy of the original divorce decree or death certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death • If there are dependent children, you will need an original birth certificate for each child under 18 or over 18 if full-time student • If over 18 and still in school, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-674 • If you or the veteran receive Social Security Benefits, the exact amount must be reported • If you already have a VA claim number, you must furnish the claim number you have been assigned • If you or the veteran receive additional income, the source and exact amount must be reported.Reimbursement of Burial Expenses VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also is established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation. VA will pay a $700 plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. Government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The plot allowance is not payable solely on wartime service.
If the veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials, the $700 plot allowance may be paid to the state. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed. Burial Flags VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran and to a person entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices, national cemeteries, and post offices. Burial in National Cemeteries VA Cemeteries Burial benefits in a VA National Cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense. Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran, and whose remarriage was teminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to one of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week. Headstones and Markers VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one's beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense. When burial is in a national, state veteran or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping and placement can be obtained from the cemetery. When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veterans cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave. To apply, you must complete VA form 40-1330. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. Use the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents to help you fill out the application as completely as possible. Forms and assistance are available at VA regional offices. To apply, mail your application to the Quantico, Virginia, mailing address. You may use either the US Postal Service, or one of the mail delivery services commercially available. Our address is: Memorial Programs Service (41A1) Department of Veterans Affairs 5109 Russell Road Quantico, VA 22134-3903 For information regarding the status of an application, you may call the Director, Office of Memorial Programs (403B3) at 1-800-697-6947. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. Twenty year reservists without active duty service are eligible for a headstone or marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death. Headstones or Markers for Memorial Plots To memorialize an eligible veteran whose remains are not available for burial, VA will provide a plot and headstone or marker in a national cemetery. The headstone or marker is the same as that used to identify a grave except that the mandatory phrase "In Memory of" precedes the authorized inscription. The headstone or marker is available to memorialize eligible veterans or deceased active-duty members whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. The memorial marker may be provided for placement in a cemetery other than a national cemetery. In such a case, VA supplies the marker and pays the cost of shipping, but does not pay for the plot or the placement of the marker. Only a relative recognized as the next of kin may apply for the benefit. Presidential Memorial Certificates The Presidential Memorial Certificate is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation's recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President. Certificates are issued in the name of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include next of kin, other relatives and friends. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients. The veteran may have died at any time in the past. The local VA regional office generally originates the application for a Presidential Memorial Certificate. The next of kin also may request a certificate. Requests should be accompanied by a copy of a document such as a discharge to establish honorable service. VA regional offices can assist in applying for certificates.
Social Security Administration
Click on the link above to be connected to the Social Security Administration. Many of the common questions related death benefits are answered below.
The following checklist is designed to help you file for your Social Security benefits correctly so that prompt payments may be made.
The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death. Those who may receive monthly benefits include:
· A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled
· A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled
· Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full-time)
· Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled
· Dependent parent or parents 62 or older
Lump-Sum Death Payment
A one time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:
1. A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death
2. A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
3. A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death
Applying for Benefits
You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone.
Social Security Teleservices - DOING BUSINESS BY TELEPHONE
You may call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The number to use is 1-800-772-1213. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm on regular business days. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you may leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day.
You may use the toll-free number to make an appointment either in a Social Security office or telephone to apply for benefits, transact other Social Security business, or just ask questions.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office has filed a lawsuit against the Serenity Group, owners of Floral Hills Memory Gardens.
Consumers who paid Floral Hills for a grave marker or vault that was never delivered should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 1-800-282-0515.