The Empty Place at the Table: Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Family gatherings can be painful for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. Empty Seat at the TableSol Levinson & Bros and Jewish Community Services invite you to join us for help in finding support and comfort during the holidays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 7:00pm
Oakland Mills Interfaith Center
5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, Maryland

Facilitated by Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman and Donna Kane, M.A., JCS Clinician

Pre-registration is preferred. Please visit jcsbaltimore.org/griefsupport or call 410-466-9200.

New Howard County Office

Families living in Howard County will be now able to meet with Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral directors in the center of Columbia, at 5560 Sterrett Place, Suite 204, Columbia, MD 21044. Levinson’s has a decades-long relationship with the Jewish community in Columbia and surrounding areas, and “this office will address the lack of a physical presence of Jewish funeral homes in the Howard County area, which has a very high percentage of Jewish households,” said Matt Levinson, General Manager of Sol Levinson & Bros.

 The office is a warm, intimate space where families can sit with a Funeral Director to plan ahead or make funeral arrangements. As before, Sol Levinson & Bros. will provide funeral services for Howard County families in multiple locations. Funerals may be held at interfaith centers, meeting houses and synagogues in Howard County, as graveside services at cemeteries throughout the region, or in the chapels at our Pikesville funeral home (20 minutes from Columbia).

 An additional benefit of this new office location is that Levinson’s can provide more easily-accessible aftercare resources to the Howard County Jewish community:

  • The reception area holds a bereavement library with books encompassing a wide range of topics such as grief, Jewish burial customs, and how to explain the mourning process to children.
  • Bereavement Support Groups will also meet in this location. Sol Levinson & Bros. will continue the annual Howard County Lecture Series presenting national and local experts in the field of death, dying and bereavement.
  • Additional outreach programs will be held in the new office, on topics such as The Jewish Funeral, Planning Ahead, Estate Planning, Eldercare Resources, and more.

As Michelle Ostroff, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, points out, “the Jewish community is looking forward to Sol Levinson’s presence in Howard County. Having the Levinson family recognize the need for an office in Columbia further underscores our growing community and its needs.”

For over one hundred twenty years, and through five generations, the Levinson family has served the Baltimore and Howard County communities with compassion and respect. Large corporations are acquiring thousands of funeral homes across the country, and the family-owned difference sets us apart. As Matt Levinson noted, “we are one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the Baltimore area and are proud to have three generations currently active in the business on a day-to-day basis, but we are always looking for ways to improve on our services, to make this difficult life-cycle event easier for families.” Levinson’s mission is to help craft a service to honor the memory of a loved one, and we feel that our longevity is a testament to that commitment. 

Go to the Howard County section of our website for more resources and details about services offered. Contact us via HowardCounty@sollevinson.com or 410-730-7230.

2014 Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture

Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc. and Jewish Community Services
welcome the entire community to:

The 16th Annual Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, May 21, from 6-9:15pm. We are pleased to announce the following presenters and topics:

Glenn J. Treisman M.D., Ph.D. – “Depression and Demoralization in Patients with Chronic Illness”
Doreen Horan, LCPC, FAMI – “Creative Grief Counseling for Children and Adults: The Wisdom of Integrating Therapy, Intuition, and Life Skills to Live Freely, Fully, Joyfully”

Dr. Treisman is the Director of the AIDS Psychiatry Service, Co-Director of the Chronic Pain Treatment Program, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Ms. Horan is the Manager of the Counseling Center at Stella Maris, Inc., a hospice provider in Timonium, MD.

2014Postcard

The lecture will be held here at Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, MD. Limited seating. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. on a first come, first served basis. No prior registration or reservations. 3 Category A or I CEUs available for psychologists and social workers. The lecture is provided in conjunction with Jewish Community Services, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

How Can Hospice Help?

The guiding principle of hospice is to ensure that a person’s death is as dignified and comfortable as possible, to maintain a patient’s quality of life and avoid unnecessary suffering. The role of hospice is to provide medical care and emotional support for the terminally ill. Hospice caregivers also provide valuable support to patients’ families. Some hospice organizations also provide palliative care for non-hospice patients. Palliative care is relieving symptoms or suffering, without attempting to cure an illness or disease.

Hospice organizations provide medical care via doctors and nurses who help advise and administer medications to ease suffering. They also help patients’ families make arrangements to acquire necessary medical equipment. Social workers are also available to help families and patients with the emotional process. Hospice providers also offer grief counseling, and some offer spiritual guidance. As with Levinson’s Aftercare Resources, hospice organizations are known for their continued support of families after the patient’s death. Some hospice organizations in the Baltimore-area are religious, some are not. Some are for-profit, some are not. All are committed to easing the process of death and dying for the terminally ill and their families.

Hospice services are available in one’s own home, in some hospitals, as well as at dedicated hospice facilities. It is important to know that hospice organizations will evaluate patients several times over the course of someone’s illness to determine their eligibility for hospice care and help advise the family, even before they are actually providing hospice services.

Within the Jewish community, there are some important resources, such as Jewish Community Services’ resources for Aging and Caregiving. Their assistance with Elder Care Management begins with helping families make decisions as their loved ones age, and they can also provide information about important end-of-life resources such as hospice care.

Other resources can be found through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, as well as local hospice care providers such as Gilchrist Hospice, Seasons Hospice, and Stella Maris.

Caring for Yourself When Grieving

HoldingHandsGrief can be an all-encompassing emotion, and Jewish funerals often take place within a relatively short time after a death occurs, meaning the first few days after a loss can go by in a blur. Add to that the possible additional stresses of travel, family interactions, and sometimes a significant amount of time recently spent supporting someone with a lingering illness, and it is no wonder that mourners sometimes suffer serious illness themselves.

Jewish law requires us to take care of ourselves, even at difficult times, and we have put together some reminders that we hope will keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe. If you are helping a friend or extended family during the time of a funeral, please make sure they do the following:

  • Drink water. Dehydration from crying, or simply not drinking on a normal schedule, can lead to a host of physical ailments even for people who are otherwise healthy. For people with blood pressure, heart or other health problems it can be dangerous.
  • Remember to eat. If you feel you have little appetite, have small meals or healthy snacks. And don’t over-do it with the caffeine. Grieving, planning and attending a funeral, and sitting shiva can be surprisingly physically taxing. From avoiding headaches to ensuring blood sugar stays level, keeping your body fueled is imperative to staying well.
  • Try to rest. Emotions can make it hard to sleep and sometimes, after a death, adrenaline kicks in. But the chemicals your body releases when sleep-deprived take a toll. Find ways to pause for a few moments of quiet or down-time. Delegate shiva set-up to someone else. Feel free to define times when you are receiving people, and times which are set aside for quiet family time to eat meals, or take naps. If you have people in your home for shiva and it starts to get overwhelming, you are completely within your rights to excuse yourself for a little while. Nobody will judge you. You are not hosting, you are sitting shiva.

Remember mourning is a process which takes a different amount of time for each person. As you grieve, please keep in mind we have several resources at Levinson’s to help you along the way. From books to lectures to bereavement groups, our Aftercare resources are always available to you.

 

Why Should I Plan Ahead?

Maybe you have a relative who is ill or going to need some long-term care and you have to spend down their assets, or your parents are older and you don’t want to have to worry about the impact of funeral costs while you are grieving, or you don’t want your family to have to worry about making decisions and handling the financial burden of your own funeral service.

There are several important reasons to take an hour of your time to make funeral arrangements in advance:

  • Ensure your peace of mind that your wishes will be followed.

  • Relieve the burden on your family, so they don’t have to worry about making significant emotional and financial decisions while they are grieving.

  • Control financial costs – when you pre-fund a funeral service, we guarantee our charges at today’s costs. (We always recommend speaking with a financial consultant or other professional regarding your personal financial situation.)

  • Reduce assets prior to applying for Medicaid.

Check out the Plan Ahead section of our website for an informative video, FAQs, and an online form to begin planning. Contact us to speak with a funeral director about any additional questions or to set up an appointment.

 

Introducing Our eNewsletter

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Our first eNewsletter is out – did you receive it? We expect to send it out a few times a year to inform you of upcoming events, helpful information about mourning and bereavement or changes in funeral practices, as well as information about Levinson’s. We hope this provides valuable resources to our community beyond our funeral services. If you would like to be on the email list to get the newsletter in the future, just click here.

Check out our blog post titled “Let’s Talk About Death?” for the lead newsletter article on the fascinating and important discussions taking place across the United States about death and dying.

 

2013 Bereavement Lecture in Howard County

On Sunday, October 20, 2013, Levinson’s hosted our annual bereavement lecture in Howard County. With about 100 people in attendance from the Columbia, Rockville, Bethesda and Washington, DC areas, this lecture allows us to provide outreach and aftercare services to the families we serve in those neighborhoods. The lecture is also a way of providing ongoing training to the social workers and caregivers who live in these communities.

Presenter J. Shep Jeffreys spoke about “Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough”. J. Shep Jeffreys, Ed.D., F.T. is a licensed psychologist with a specialty in the treatment of grief related problems. He is a Fellow in Thanatology (ADEC). In addition to his practice at the Family Center in Columbia, he is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he presents seminars on loss and grief to psychiatric residents. He is Affiliate Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland, teaching Loss and Bereavement.

Dr. Jeffreys is author of Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not Enough: A Handbook for Care Providers, 2nd Edition, and of Coping with Workplace Grief: Dealing with Loss, Trauma and Change, Revised Edition. His column “Grief Psychologist’s Corner” has been a regular feature in Living With Loss magazine. A speaker and storyteller, he consults with and provides training programs for religious, medical, and educational institutions as well as business organizations. For twelve years he worked with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., as a trainer and grief/loss workshop leader in the United States and abroad, and he has served as consulting psychologist for The Johns Hopkins AIDS Service. Dr. Jeffreys is a member of and consultant to Bereaved Parents USA, Howard County (MD) Chapter.

Feedback after the lecture was that Dr. Jeffreys was very informative, a great speaker and people really got a lot out of the morning. All in all, it was an experience that was very helpful to the attendees.

If you are interested in the lectures either at the Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home (usually every Spring), please check in with us in February. If you would like to know more about upcoming Howard County lectures, please check in with us next summer.

You can always contact us with any questions.

 

This event was co-sponsored by Jewish Community Services (An agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore) and The Jewish Federation of Howard County.

Let’s Talk About Death?

Have you ever talked to your friends or family about death? Do you know what your loved ones’ wishes are for long-term care? Have you told them what your wishes are? What does it mean to decide to send a family member to a nursing home, hospice facility or receive hospice care at home? Is your family prepared in case someone dies suddenly? What are your wishes regarding a funeral, and does your family know what they are?

The separation many of us have from death or those who are dying – due to extended life expectancy and the rise of long-term care facilities – means that this subject is rarely discussed and has almost become taboo. This does a disservice to those who are dying and those who are struggling to cope with the loss or imminent loss of a loved one. Several interesting communities and resources have recently stepped in to fill that gap.

Now you can gather a group of friends or family to discuss “Death Over Dinner“, sending out a resource for people to read in advance and then gathering to talk about your reactions or thoughts. They point out on their homepage that “How we want to die – represents the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having.” Bloomberg recently highlighted these dinners in an article which looks into some participants’ experiences. Or you can attend a “Death Cafe” which gathers people together over cake and coffee (or tea) to share their thoughts and fears about death. Back in March, NPR interviewed the man who started them, and you can read that interview here.

If you have any questions about Jewish funerals or the mourning process, funeral options available, or would like information about resources in the community, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Ask the Funeral Director – FAQs

There are many questions people have about Jewish mourning customs and the process of arranging funerals. On our website we have attempted to address the most common questions with our “Ask the Funeral Director FAQ”.

  • What do I do when my loved one passes away?
  • What should I bring when making funeral arrangements?
  • My family member lives out of state, but wants to be buried in Baltimore. What should I do when he/she passes away?
  • What if the burial is to take place out of state?
  • Is there a difference when a death occurs at home rather than in a hospital or nursing home? Will someone come right away?
  • My parent is going into a nursing home. I was advised that I could reduce their assets by pre-funding funeral expenses. How do I go about that?
  • Does the funeral service need to be held within 24 hours after someone passes away?
  • I can’t decide if I should have a chapel or graveside service. What should I consider?
  • I am not Jewish. What should I expect at the funeral? Is there a viewing?
  • Do you accept flowers? What is appropriate to send to the funeral home or shiva house?
  • I’m arriving from out of town for a funeral service. What transportation is available from the train station? From BWI Airport? How long a trip is it?
  • My family member has passed away. Should I wear a kriah ribbon? Where do I wear it?
  • I am planning an unveiling. Does Sol Levinson & Bros. assist with that? How do I go about planning?
  • I want to find the cemetery where my family member is buried. They passed away many years ago. Do you have that information?
  • I want to order a Yahrzeit calendar. How do I get one?
  • I need additional death certificates. Can you order those for me?
  • How do I choose pallbearers? How many should we have? How old must they be? What is the difference between active and honorary pallbearers?
  • What Social Security benefits may I be entitled to?
  • I served in the military. Are there Veteran’s benefits that I may be entitled to? How do I plan for military honors at the funeral and graveside?
  • Where is the shiva house? Do you have directions?
  • What are the days and times for shiva services?
  • Where can I call to get my loved one’s Hebrew name?
  • The headstone is knocked over at the cemetery. Who do I call for assistance?

If you have any questions that you do not see here or there are any important topics you feel we have not covered, please contact us.