The Best Gift I Could Give My Children

Portrait Of Senior Couple Relaxing Together On SofaWe recently sat down to make pre-arrangements with a woman who told us her children thought that pre-planning her own funeral was the strangest thing for her to do, but she knew it was the best gift she could give them. Once all the decisions were made and everything was taken care of, she knew that all her family would have to do is pick up the phone and call Levinson’s when the time came. She said it gave her peace of mind to know they would not have to worry about making decisions while grieving, nor about the financial aspect of the funeral, and they would then understand how much of a gift she had given them.

It may seem surprising, but several hundred people a year come in to plan ahead for their funerals, or the funeral of a loved-one. We hear an incredible amount of positive feedback from them, with comments such as “That was a much easier conversation than I expected,” or “I feel so much better having had this conversation.” People uniformly thank us for making the process so easy.

When you come in to talk to us there are no obligations and there is no pressure. We give you all of the options and information, allow you to ask any questions you may have, and put together a personalized Pre-Planning Guide with funeral information and valuable resources for your family.

Funeral directors are available by appointment to meet you at either the funeral home in Pikesville, or at our Columbia Arrangement Center. If you wish to learn more about the benefits of planning ahead, include a video testimonial, please visit our website.

“Don’t Worry, I Took Care of Everything.”

Has a loved one ever told you they’ve “taken care of everything” related to their funeral? Do you know what they mean by that?

So many times we, as funeral directors, have taken a call from a family notifying us that someone has died and “they told me everything was taken care of” – and we have no record of them ever coming in to make decisions or to pre-pay anything. It turns out the person purchased cemetery plots and that is it. This is a horrible shock for the family at an already emotionally overwhelming time. Imagine believing the funeral has been paid in its entirety and finding out that is not the case.

If a loved one has told you “I took care of everything,” please ask them what they mean, and specifically ask if they have come to Levinson’s to review all the options. If they haven’t, consider bringing them in to sit down and have this – admittedly difficult – conversation. You will receive a personalized Pre-PlanniCompleted Guideng Guide, which contains:

  • funeral selections,
  • location of vital documents,
  • space to write down important information to be used in the eulogy,
  • resources for families to use at the time of someone’s passing,
  • and much more.

If they HAVE been in to discuss all the options, but it has been a while, we want to offer the opportunity to come in and get our new Pre-Planning Guide reflecting your selections. Please give us a call to come in and meet briefly with one of our funeral directors, who will review it with you and give you a copy. You don’t have to make any changes to your existing selections.

We are available to meet with you by appointment in our Pikesville and Columbia, MD locations. As always, information on planning ahead is available on our website.

Introducing the new Levinson’s Pre-Planning Guide.

Introducing the new Levinson’s Pre-Planning Guide.

 

Completed Guide

This comprehensive resource contains detailed information about the funeral selections, location of vital documents, space to write down important information to be used in the eulogy, resources for families to use at the time of someone’s passing, and much more.

If you would like us to put together a Pre-Planning Guide reflecting your selections, please give us a call to come in to meet with one of our funeral directors in our Pikesville or Columbia locations. We will review all the funeral options with you, provide you with all the information you may need, and give you your personalized copy of the Guide.

Planning ahead for yourself or a loved one is beneficial because it allows you to:

  • Ensure your peace of mind that your wishes will be followed
  • Relieve the burden on your family, to ease their financial and decision-making obligations
  • Control financial costs – by pre-funding today, you can prevent the financial burden on those closest to you and be assured that the money will be there to help cover tomorrow’s funeral costs
  • Reduce assets prior to applying for Medicaid (“Spend-down”)

As always, information on planning ahead is available on our website.

Why Do We Place Stones At A Grave?

The Symbol of the Stone at the Grave

Have you ever wondered why Jews leave stones at the graves of their loved ones? Our Jewish faith teaches us to respect, mourn, remember, and care for the dead. Leaving stones at your loved one’s grave is a way of doing just that, for long after they have left this world.

StonesFrom the moment someone passes away, we go to great lengths to care for them. Not only in memory, by planning a respectful funeral that reflects the kind of life they lived, but also physically – as some opt for the ritual ceremony of Taharah (please see our previous blog post here) – and spiritually, by having a Shomer sit with them, ensuring they are never left alone. Visiting a loved one’s grave offers you time to reflect, meditate, and remember them. Leaving stones there commemorates those you’ve lost, as well as your visits.

So, why do we leave stones rather than flowers that you may see in a secular cemetery? There are two reasons for this. The first one being that the stone symbolizes permanence. We wish for our loved one’s soul to live eternally in the world to come. Flowers may be beautiful, but they do not last – their beauty fades, and petals fall – while a stone remains sturdy even against the elements. The second reason being that in life, flowers symbolize luxury, a prize or even status. Judaism tells us that in death, like in birth, we are all equal. We are all rocks against the elements to stand the test of time.

 

Columbia Life Happens Series – September 2016

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ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE?

It can be hard to discuss what happens when you or a family member becomes ill or passes away. But taking time to explore and make decisions about these issues now will make it easier on your loved ones. Facing these difficult issues can provide everyone with peace of mind for years to come.

LifeBridge Health, Jewish Community Services, the Jewish Federation of Howard County and Sol Levinson & Bros. want to make the hard conversations about aging and planning for the future easier for you. Join us for Life Happens, a free series of talks from experts who help navigate others through these topics.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

All SessionsAttendance is free and open to the community. To register for any or all of these Life Happens sessions, go to www.lifebridgehealth.org/communityevents, or call 410-601-WELL (9355).

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We Remember Them: Finding Hope and Meaning After Loss

Gilchrist Grief Services, Jewish Community Services and Sol Levinson & Bros, Inc. Funeral Home Present a Community Seminar:

 

We Remember Them:

Finding Hope and Meaning After Loss

ComfortingGrieving the death of a loved one is a complex journey; it is a unique process for every individual.

This seminar will provide attendees an opportunity to learn new coping skills, to better understand their feelings, and come away with a renewed sense of hope and meaning.

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

6:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M.

Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. Funeral Home

8900 Reisterstown Road

Baltimore, MD  21208

 

Program

6:30 – 6:45   Welcome

6:45 – 7:15   Creating New Purpose: Finding Hope and Meaning

7:15 – 7:25   Break and Refreshments

7:25 – 8:15   Breakout Sessions led by Gilchrist Grief Services and Jewish Community Services Bereavement Clinicians

8:15 – 8:30   We Remember Them presented by Rabbi Dana Saroken, Beth El Congregation

 

Free and Open to the Community. To reserve a space please register by September 15, 2016

Call: 443-849-8251 or email gs_grief@gilchristservices.org

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Life Happens: Educational Series

Life HappensA free educational series on healthy living, caring for our loved ones and planning for the future.

Are you prepared for the future? It can be hard to discuss what happens when you or a family member needs skilled nursing care or passes away. But taking time to explore and make decisions about these issues now will make it easier on your loved ones. Facing these difficult issues can provide everyone with peace of mind for years to come.

LifeBridge Health, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, Jewish Community Services, and Sol Levinson & Bros. want to make these hard conversations easier for you.

Join us for Life Happens, a free, six-week series where we will explore topics related to aging and planning for the future. All sessions will be held on Tuesday evening, 7-8:30 p.m.

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May 3, 2016 — The Greatest Gift: Discussing and Planning for Future Financial, Medical and End-of-Life Matters with Loved Ones

Speaker:  Deborah Hamburger, Esq. Volunteer Coordinator, Jewish Community Services

 

May 10, 2016 – Healthy Living For A Healthy Future

Speakers:  Joann Coleman, DNP, ACNP, AOCN (acute care nurse practitioner) Sinai Center for Geriatric Surgery

                   Paul Apostolo M.D., Chief of Orthopedic Surgery for the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Northwest Hospital

 

May 17, 2016 – Understanding and Planning Social Security and Medicare Benefits

Speakers: Laura Train, Associate Commissioner, Office of Communications Planning and Technology, Social Security

Sherry Kolbe, Ship Program Manager Baltimore County, Baltimore County Department of Aging

 

May 24, 2016 – Aging in Place: Options And Resources For Staying In Your Home

Speakers:  Karen Nettler, MSW, Director of Community Connections, Jewish Community Services

Andrew Weinberg, EldersChoice of Maryland, LLC

Michelle Mills, Director of Adult Day Care, Levindale

Mitch Posner, Executive Director, CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.

 

May 31, 2016 – When Home is Not An Option: Retirement Communities, Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Speakers:  Susan Newhouse, LCSW-C

Ross Maultasch, Director of Nursing Home Operations, Levindale

 

June 7, 2016 – The Jewish Funeral: Traditions, Options and Funeral Home Tour

Speakers:  Matt Levinson, Funeral Director, Sol Levinson& Bros.Inc.

Rabbi Chai Posner, Beth Tfiloh Congregation

Attendance is free and open to the community. Please check locations carefully.

To register for any or all of these Life Happens sessions, call 410-601-WELL (9355) or register online.

FAQ – Who Gets Funeral or Shiva Thank-you Notes?

One question we are often asked is who should formally be thanked after a funeral. It is important to note that the answer to this, as with most other things in Jewish tradition, often varies.

It is most common to write thank-you notes for donations or contributions that were made in a person’s memory, or to people who may have sent food to the family. It is also common to thank anyone who was exceptionally helpful in organizing shiva, etc. It is not expected that you should write a note to thank every person who attended the funeral.

However, in the more observant community it is NOT expected that thank-you notes be written, as that community views helping with shiva or making contributions in someone’s memory something that is a mitzvah – a commandment, not just a good deed – and, therefore, does not require thanks. Another part of the reasoning is they feel that grieving families should do just that – focus on their grief and not have to spend their time obligated to the duty of writing thank-you notes.

Life Happens – first educational series

LifeHappensLogoWe have just completed a very successful first-time educational series, in partnership with LifeBridge Health, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, and Jewish Community Services. Thank you to all the speakers and participants.

Over the course of six weeks, we covered the following topics:

  • The Greatest Gift: Discussing and Planning for Future Financial, Medical and End-of-Life Matters with Loved Ones
  • Estates and Eldercare: Planning and Resources
  • Health Expectations and Challenges Facing Baby Boomers
  • Navigating the System: Aging in Place, Independent and Assisted Living, Households and Nursing Homes
  • Palliative and Hospice Care: Difficult Conversations, Valuable Resources
  • The Jewish Funeral: Traditions, Options and Funeral Home Tour

Each presentation was very well attended and we received a lot of excellent feedback. As we review the series and plan for future events, is there a topic you would like us to consider? Please comment here, send an email to feedback@sollevinson.com, or call Matt Levinson or Eliza Feller at 410-653-8900

Life Happens – A free educational series on healthy living, caring for our loved ones and planning for the future

Attendance is free and open to the community. To register for any or all of these Life Happens sessions, go to www.lifebridgehealth.org/communityevents, email Gail Wolven at gwolven@lifebridgehealth.org or call 866-404 DOCS (3627).