On April 15, 1971 I was discharged from the Army. I was 22 years old. I went home to live with the family for a few months while I tried to figure out what to do with my life. I remember sitting with my stepfather and my mother one evening after dinner. At that time there were nine of 13 kids living at home, and after clean-up chores were done, everyone dispersed. Some headed out to play, some did homework, and others waited for the news to be over so they could watch their favorite TV shows.
Included in every night’s reporting of accidents, fires, weather, sports scores, politicians babbling and more, there was always ‘the count’. At least that is what I remember it as. The count referred to how many more American’s died in Vietnam in the most recent 24 hours. The ultimate count was 58,185 men and 8 women and so, on that evening in April, watching my parents watch ‘the count’, my soul cried.
Life is funny like that. The first time we experience anything new, we tune in. Play in your first basketball game, or sing that first solo, or stand at a door after a first date and wonder about the first kiss. We wanted to score the winning point, or hit the high note or get the thrill of lips touching lips for the first time. Almost all of life’s firsts are preceded by nervousness, anticipation and wonder.
Before I went to Vietnam, I would sit waiting with brothers and sisters for the news to end so I could watch The Monkees or The Beverly Hillbillies, and my mind never stopped to catch ‘the count’ because it went right over my head as I had heard it so many times. Each day the numbers grew and each day I was oblivious. So, when hearing the count post-Vietnam, my reality was coming from a completely different perspective. These were real people dying. Each number meant a family’s life back home would be changed forever. These were no longer just numbers. There were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, dads and moms, husbands and wives taken in their youth.
I could see the torn limbs, the vacant eyes, the cold and lifeless flesh…and the blood. So much blood. To most of America, the nightly ‘count’ was just a number. To me, it was physical, mental and moral pain to the highest degree.
What does this have to do with the Coronavirus 49 years later? It’s ‘the count’ once again. Today, March 30, the U.S. count stands at 2,405 dead; 36,230 dead in the world! A person, your grandma perhaps, healthy as can be one day and two weeks later…gone. No more scent of her ‘Rose is a Rose” perfume worn too heavily, no more big snuggly hugs, no more pure love from this person who loved from the depths of her being. And due to the contagious nature of this killer virus, you could not be with her and she died alone. Her funeral could not be attended by all those who cared about her passing. She went from playing on the floor with your kids to a box put in the cold ground, just another number on the news to those who did not know her.
This Corona thing is serious. The numbers are horrifying, and so close to home for all of us. All of us, no matter our position in life, are susceptible to this unseen enemy that was unknown to all of us just months ago. For front line workers, the essentials among us, their reality is so different from those who are considered non-essential according to the government. Their reality is working day in and day out in the middle of the plague. They are ready and willing and dedicated to saving lives while our politicians from both sides quibble about self-serving ways to get the credit or get re-elected in November.
For all of the non-essentials, you should know that you are essential. Your job in halting and reversing the daily count is to stay home. There is little to add to this simple task. You can watch the news to learn about washing your hands and staying home. My point is the staying home part. I am healthy, and home, yet I work in an essential business. The cemetery and funeral business are filled with unsung heroes who go to work in fear each day, too. Imagine being exposed to strangers every day. As a staff member of a funeral home or cemetery, you are there caring for those who have to make final arrangements for their dead, and for their dying. You do not know if the virus is being breathed in as you want to be there for your client families.
As a 71-year-old cancer survivor, I am more likely to contract the disease than those younger, healthier people I work with, so I was asked to stay home. This tears at my very being because I feel like a person who sees something horrible happening to others and I cannot do anything for them but make sure I do not become a carrier, or victim, of the virus. I have lived a full life and know that there are others who are just beginning to live, to raise families and to enjoy the many gifts that God has provided to us all. I, in fact, volunteered to be at my desk and was asked to stay home. I do not fear death. I hate the thought of ever leaving my wife and children, and my Airedale friend, Mac…especially to this invisible disease.
Even if I am one of the lucky ones who lives to be a 100, I am still going to die. I do not wish to hasten the natural order of things, but I am not afraid. I believe in a heaven and hell and I expect to be in the good place.
Not that you may be seeking advice from this writer, but I feel obligated to share my path to peace. It is actually quite simple. You cannot find peace in your good works, though keep doing good works for those who benefit from your goodness. But there is a simple way for us all to accept the daily ‘count’ and that is to accept Jesus as your Savior. Many will agree and many more will be upset that they read this far, only to put everything in the hands of this ‘good man but not God’ person from 2020 years ago.
With so many of us confined to our homes, and with boredom or sadness from the gloom and doom broadcast daily on our big screen TV’s or tiny, hand-held devices, you have time to pick up your bible. If you do not have a bible, Google it. Listen to the stories contained there-in. Listen to Jesus talking to you as though you are there. He is real and He wants you to have peace. A simple acceptance guarantees you a place on the inside; the beautiful side of eternity.
So, go in peace. Do your part to help as an absolutely essential being by staying home. Yes, we will get though this together. Some reading this will leave this world due to the virus. And that is sad and awful and even a tiny possibility. And at the same time, everyone wants to get to heaven yet few of us want to do what is necessary to get there…we must die.
Enjoy your years on Earth and at least think about how simple it is to join those you love for eternity. Say ‘I do” to His words as written in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Finally, the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ appears 365 times in the bible. That is a daily reminder: “Do not be afraid for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about as I am your God and I will strengthen you. Surely, I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Take a minute to look this up and send me the chapter and verse. Bless you all. Remember, this too shall pass.
We remain committed and prepared to safely care for the families we serve during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Whenever possible, we will continue to enable families to participate in the rituals that are most important to them.
And according to the CDC, at this time, there is no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of confirmed or suspected COVID-19; however, federal, state and local public health guidance may impact the size of gathering a family is able to plan. Depending on a family’s preferences, their loved one can be safely embalmed. Families may choose either burial or cremation as usual.
“At our funeral homes, we recognize our responsibility to protect the health of those we are privileged to serve,” said David Semplinski, Funeral Home Operations Supervisor. “We will continue to guide families, as we always have, in ways they can meaningfully commemorate the life of their loved one, while adhering to the guidance issued by federal, state and local public health officials.”
Semplinski continued: “Our staff remains vigilant about cleaning our facilities and ensuring we’re all following recommended healthy habits, such as staying home when sick, washing our hands, and covering coughs and sneezes. The CDC and our state and local public health officials have offered a lot of helpful guidance for businesses on this topic, which we continue to follow.”
A member of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), our funeral home facilities, along with Calumet Park Cemetery, regularly receives information via NFDA from the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies about the evolution of COVID-19 in the United States. NFDA continues to lead the conversation with federal officials about the role of funeral service as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If we can be of assistance, please contact us at 219-736-5840 (Merrillville), 219-940-3792 (Hobart), 219-980-1141 (Gary) and 219-769-8803 (cemetery – Daniel Moran, G.M.)
We pray for all the people of the world, and for a quick conclusion to this pandemic. We are prepared to help so do not hesitate to call with your questions.
Funeral professionals work hard to be emotionally supportive for the bereaved, use their professional training to care for the deceased and create events that will begin healing. The people they serve are likely going through some of the toughest days of their lives. The last thing a funeral professional will do is complain about how difficult their job is.
To be clear, I am not a licensed funeral professional. However, I have interacted with them for almost a decade, and I have worked at a funeral home and cemetery for the last year. When I give presentations on topics related to Finding Resilience (a burnout prevention program for funeral professionals), I often have funeral professionals come up and share their stories. In many cases, their close family members and friends may not even know about these challenges.
I thought it would be helpful to share some of the realities of the funeral profession. They would never want to draw attention to themselves, but I’d like to explain a few things I wish everyone knew about funeral professionals.
Funeral professionals know that if they have a bad day, no one wants to hear about it. Part of this is maintaining the confidentiality of the families they serve, but it goes deeper than that. While other types of professionals can complain about a computer system that went down or an incorrect delivery, funeral professionals know that no one wants to hear about embalming a nine-year-old or sitting with a widower for an hour while he cries. This comes from a respect for the deceased and the bereaved. Funeral professionals also don’t want to burden their closest friends, family members or spouses with stories like that.
The result is that funeral professionals keep these painful emotions and experiences inside. Sometimes they go to conventions and conferences to see their colleagues and share their problems. But often, they just keep it inside. It adds more stress to an already stressful profession.
2. Funeral professionals are constantly balancing responsibilities to their family and community.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Well, at least it’s not a matter of life and death.” It can be a way of putting things in perspective and reducing our stress level. But for funeral professionals, everything they do is a matter of life and death. Typically, they are helping families with tasks and services that need to happen within the next few hours or days.
As a result, a funeral professional is continually leaving their own family to serve someone else’s family. Not only that, but they often leave in the middle of the night and direct services in the afternoons, evenings and on weekends. Their professional responsibilities may force them to miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, children’s sports games and many other events they wish they could attend. By taking care of others, they are away from the people they love – often at the most inconvenient times.
3. Funeral professionals face high expectations for their services.
Among small, local businesses, funeral homes sometimes seem to be unfairly singled out for seeking to make a profit. The general public often doesn’t realize how unique and challenging the funeral profession can be. For example, what other local, private business has to:
Be physically available every hour of the day and every day of the year.
Have modern, specialized vehicles (i.e., hearses, etc.).
Have comforting décor, an easily accessible building and a medical suite.
Have staff members wear formal, professional attire every day.
Attract, hire and retain new professionals with the promise they will need to frequently work nights, weekends and holidays – often without much notice.
Although I am not a licensed funeral professional, I know enough about their weekly schedules and lives to know this: If they went into the funeral profession for an easy way to make money, they made a terrible choice.
These are just three things I wish everyone knew about the funeral profession. You won’t hear any of these things from them (they are far too professional to do that), but I hope knowing more about their important work will help you regard funeral professionals with the same respect and gratitude that I do.
(This article was written by Dr. Jason Troyer, a psychology professor, former counselor, grief researcher, speaker and consultant who has worked with funeral & cemetery professionals for almost 10 years.)
Funeral homes, for the most part, are run by trusted families that live in the communities in which they serve. They are honorable people who truly want to help families in their time of need. Their work is emotionally and physically draining. The pay is decent but comes in irregularly. He or she can have weeks that are so filled with details and stress when a number of calls come in all at once. Other weeks, they can spend time looking for things to do.
Averages mean little to a funeral director. A funeral home may average 150 funerals per year. However, those funerals do not come in spaced in such a way to make sense of a formal schedule. One week they may have six funerals followed by seven followed by two. And each funeral is planned to meet the particular emotional needs and affordability of the family experiencing the loss.
The general public is not aware of all that is involved with keeping a funeral home operating the way they would like. For years, they complained to their congressmen and women about being ripped off by funeral directors. For instance, in the early 1980’s, a casket may have cost the funeral home $300 and they would sell it for $1000. In order to keep their doors open and be available when needed, prices had to be set with a different mindset than other types of business.
From the perspective of the consumer, and after enough complaints were made to individual congressmen and women, families and funeral home owners were invited to meet with the Federal Trade Commission to tell their side of the story.
The conclusions of the FTC were made as a public record, and are shown below.
It was then that the FTC was assigned authority over funeral homes in regard to pricing standards. To make it possible for families to compare pricing, the FTC introduced the Funeral Rule. You can look on-line for the entire rule. As part of the rule, the FTC established that a traditional funeral service would be composed of seven items. They dictated that these seven items be printed on a General Price List, along with other offerings available to families when seeking pricing for funerals.
The GPL, as it is referred to, must be given to anyone asking for one, whether friend or foe (competitor) of the funeral home. Pricing was also to be given to anyone calling in to inquire about prices. The traditional funeral was to be made up of the following: basic services of funeral director staff, embalming, other preparation of the body, transportation (transfer of body to funeral home), use of facility and staff for visitation/viewing, use of facility and staff for funeral ceremony/memorial service, and hearse.
The FTC did not care what a funeral home charged for services and merchandise. They only sought transparency. The idea was for a grieving family to be able to go to any funeral home in the country and, with a GPL in hand, the family could compare the bottom line for a funeral among all funeral homes that they might consider using. Regarding caskets and outer containers as required by most cemeteries, a casket price list and an outer container price list must be made available (CPL and OBCL) for comparison purposes.
Although price alone should not be the deciding factor on choosing a funeral home, it is a good place to start. More importantly, the GPL can be useful in getting a feel for prices in your city or town. Reputation and visiting funeral homes is the best way to find out what is best for you. There is a feeling when you visit a funeral home, an ambiance if you will, that feels “right” as you make your visit. Staffing is very important to help a family gain trust that their loved one will be in good hands, and that can best be judged by having personal contact. After all, you will be turning your loved one over to strangers. Although money is important, professionalism and caring directors and staff supersedes all.
The best time to check out funeral homes is now, before you have a need. Visit when your mind is clear and your heart is not broken by the loss of someone dear to you. We invite you to come to any of our three funeral homes (Merrillville, Hobart or Gary). Our funeral directors and staff would be happy to show you around, answer your questions and help you find what feels best to you and to your wallet. Call 219-769-8803 or stop in.
The Calumet Park Cemetery office building (11,000 square foot building immediately to your left when you enter the cemetery at the main entrance at the corner of 73rd and Taft in Merrillville) is undergoing a complete make-over for the new decade. The picture shown above is the visitor entrance to the office building being readied for the changes. New flooring, walls, including a real eye-catcher surprise that will offer a peaceful waiting area, new color scheme and more will greet visitors to the office.
We ask for your patience during this remodeling project which should be completed within the next 4-6 weeks. If you have any questions, please call 219-769-8803. Thank you for your patience. We are fully open to serve you during this process.
A moment of joy and hope…for 33 years. Eternity in heaven given to all who accept and believe. Merry Christmas to all. (crosses on hill behind the mausoleum complex at Calumet Park Cemetery) Happy New Year to all. Thank you for letting us serve your family.
It is that time of year once again. Mark your calendars and make a quick call to the funeral home of your choice as shown below to be sure to order your free glass angel to hang on the Angel Tree.
Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Merrillville on December 7 from 3-5. Call 219-736-5840 to reserve your angel. Located at 7535 Taft Street, Merrillville.
Calumet Park Funeral Chapel in Hobart on December 6 from 6-8. Call 219-940-3791 to reserve your angel. Located just north of the County Line Apple Orchard in Hobart, 370 N. County Line Road, Hobart.
Rendina Funeral Home on December 5 from 6-8. Call 219-980-1141 to reserve your angel. Located at 5100 Cleveland Street, Gary.
This event is filled with emotion and all that attend cannot say enough about how wonderful it is to have such a special tree lighting ceremony for their lost loved ones. There will be live music, a welcome address by Paul Vogel, CEO of Calumet Park, the reading of names followed by the hanging of the angels on the tree. After the tree is lit for the Christmas season, families and friends may gather for refreshments and good fellowship. Hope to see you there.
To ensure that you have an angel with your loved ones name, and dates of birth and death, call now. See you there.
(written by Daniel Moran and an unknown author from internet)
A veteran is someone who has experience in the military, and quite often, in war. But that does not tell the whole story. Sometimes being a veteran has a greater meaning than someone who once wore a uniform.
The politics behind America’s military may be debatable at times, but the common thread of a veteran is the sheer guts it takes to hand a blank check over to the government for the amount up to and including their very life.
Many veterans will make light of their willingness to put themselves in harms way, and will joke that combat is the most exciting thing you can do. Others will rightly testify that it’s the most terrifying and horrifying thing a person can do.
And while there is no possible way to explain what combat is like to someone who has never experienced it, and never had their life directly threatened by another human being, those of us who have been there can tell you that both the best and the worst of humanity is seen in war.
Watching the top of your friend’s head get removed by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding 88 round during the Battle of the Bulge…holding your buddy in your arms while he slowly bleeds to death in the jungles outside of Ke Sahn, Vietnam after being shot by the Cong…or climbing up into your Humvee’s turret to man the 50 Cal because your squad mate fell back inside after an RPG exploded in his face…only to reach up and grab the gun’s grips, and instead, grab your squad mate’s still attached hand…
Or, it is your head, your blood flowing into the grass, or your hand blown off! Or, possibly worse, your injuries are of the mental kind… of seeing and doing things that no human should ever be witness to, or called upon to do!
These are the stakes that joining the military are all about. Yet, there are people willing to go do it, and if asked, they would go do it again in an instant. They experienced the most challenging of situations and through it all, cared for the homeland and the freedom we all enjoy more than life itself.
They laid it all out for one another…living, loving, crying and dying together. It is a weird dichotomy…war. How can it be that such things still go on in these supposedly enlightened times?
Millions of fellow American men and women that you never knew agreed to risk going through this hell for you. Many of them came back home in a flag-covered box, and some never came back at all. So, what kind of person can love you so much that they would die for you without ever having met you?
Who can love their flag so much that they would die for it, and for the principles she stands for? Who would take those risks and not expect any thanks in return, knowing that the thanks are, ironically, in having been one of the few to sign on the line and raise their right hand to God as they pledged to defend this country?
A veteran…that’s who!
If the idea of that does not stir your soul, what will? So, if you see a veteran, shake their hand, or maybe even give them a hug. If you cannot think of anything to say, that’s OK too. They’ll understand the message: Veterans in this room, I salute you.
And to all veterans who read this, and to their families, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice as you proudly served your country.
For information regarding cemetery and funeral arrangements, call 219-769-8803.
It seems that turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and apple pies and more were just served as America celebrated Thanksgiving, 2018. Before you know it, the feast for 2019 will be shared by families across the country. For many, things to be thankful for will easily roll off the tongue. For too many others, they will hesitate when asked what they are thankful for.
Working for years in the death care industry, I have found families that have lost someone dear to them quite often find it difficult to feel thankful about very much, especially during the holidays. Broken hearts seem to filter out much that is good in one’s life. Focus is on that which is not going right and what is more wrong than a death of a loved one?
I am not going to play psychiatrist here, but I would like to offer a few interesting thoughts. If you are reading this, then you have your eyesight, so put that in the plus column for things to be thankful for. If you do not have your sight but are listening to someone read this to you, then add another positive to this column as you have your hearing.
If you walk into the dining room on November 28, regardless of where you plan on having Thanksgiving dinner, you can be thankful that you can walk, that you can smell the delicious food, and that you can enjoy the tastes of turkey and pie. When you greet those who you will be sharing dinner with you, be aware of your sense of touch, and how nice it is to get and to give a hug or a kiss. Love is amazing, and it is always something to be thankful for.
Yes, you may not have the physical presence of your lost loved one, but you will always have the memories of all those special times that were shared. So, add memories to your list of things to be grateful for, along with the ability to think, and speak and share. And then there are the obvious things in most of our lives that are blessings that are not always acknowledged: having a job (income), having a roof over our heads, running water, transportation, food on a daily basis, and good, clean water to drink.
In this country, we are blessed with material things beyond the imagination of so many people from third world countries. It seems that even our homeless have cell phones, as do each of us and our kids and everyone we know. A trip to the grocery store becomes a challenge to our decision-making process as there are so many versions of food and cleaning supplies and on and on to choose from.
In fact, many years ago I worked in NYC and we had some Russian immigrants working with us. I asked one of the ladies what she was most impressed with in the USA. I thought she would say the tall buildings in the city or the statue of Liberty but no, she was most impressed with our grocery stores. As mentioned above, she was stunned by the number of choices. In Russia, she stood in lines to buy a loaf of bread. So, add grocery stores to your list of things to be thankful for.
Sadly, many people that are hurting from a death of a close loved one forgets to be open to the love of those suffering with her or him, whether friends or family members. When a child dies, sometimes grief squeezes out our other children who are also suffering from the loss. There is so much love and living to be shared with our circle of love and influence, even when someone important to us dies. It is important to grieve, and we all do so in different ways. But it is something to remember, in the middle of those lonely nights, that we still have so much to be thankful for.
When you sit with family and friends this Thanksgiving, think on some of the blessing that you do have. One of the most important blessings is good health, so if you are feeling good, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, the sense of taste and touch and you enjoy even some of the things mentioned above, feel comfortable expressing your appreciation…when it is your turn to tell everyone at the table what you are thankful for. I even feel thankful, at this very moment, that you have taken the time to read these words. Please know that they are written just for you.
I will conclude with a personal note from me. If you have not discovered the source of all that there is to be thankful for, I suggest you pick up a bible and you will find so many things to be thankful for. My biggest thanks go to God and you can see why when you spend some time in the new testament. For now, Happy Thanksgiving to all and may I wish your holiday season is filled with love, joy and peace and good health.
Calumet Park Funeral Chapel on Taft in Merrillville celebrated Fall with a fun-packed Trunk or Treat Celebration on Saturday, October 4. If you missed it, join us next Saturday at our Hobart Funeral Chapel just north of the Apple Orchard on County Line Road. Last years Hobart had tons of fun and lots of kids in costumes and would love to see you there.
A big thank you goes out to all the organizers and participants at the Merrillville festival.
Hunter Vogel 2nd overall and 1st in age group (17 years old) at 23:10.4 and brother ,Ian Vogel finished 4th overall and first in his age group (13 years old) at 25:49.8
Most senior participant – Daniel Moran at 57:27.6 (let’s hear it for the 70+ crowd!)
Go to www.thtiming.com for all results.
Thanks to all who helped organize this event and a special nod of appreciation to Sandy Ferris, Kevin Music and Marcia Ochoa for running the check-in tables and to Tim McClure and his crew in traffic and parking duty.
Hope to see you and your friends next year. Also, don’t miss the Trunk or Treat tailgate fun at the Merrillville Chapel (on Taft in Merrillville) on October 5 and at the Hobart Funeral Chapel (on County Line Road near the Apple Orchard) on October 12. Both begin at 11:00 a.m.