Feature Article in Funeral Home and Cemetery News

Funeral Home and Cemetery News is one of the Nomis Publications that I discovered after I wrote Begin Here: helping survivors manage. I never miss reading every copy and it is on my list of places to advertise, if I ever have advertising dollars. This summer has been busier than usual, so I had my stack of newspapers piled high to catch up on my industry reading. I found this article (which appears below and on this link, page A33) that I wrote and did not know was published in the April 2012 issue. Thank you, Nomis, and your team for printing my article!

Excerpt from Nomis website: Funeral Home & Cemetery News was first published in 1979 as the YB News. This trade newspaper is a compilation of news articles and press releases provided by those in the funeral and cemetery industry. With a monthly circulation of over 20,000, Funeral Home & Cemetery News continues to be a forum to share firm accomplishments or community programs and exchange ideas.

Nomis Publications, Inc. was incorporated in 1974 by Chester E. Simon. In 1992, the corporation was acquired by Lucille A. McGuire, who has been with the firm since its first year of operation. A family owned and operated business, corporate officers include: Lucille A. (Lucy) McGuire, President; daughter, Kimberly McGuire-Graham, Vice President; and daughter Margaret (Peggy) Rouzzo, Secretary/Treasurer. The officers are assisted by several employees including Peggy’s daughter Cindy DelSignore.

The primary business of the corporation is the compilation and publication of trade directories and a monthly newspaper for the deathcare industry.

FULL ARTICLE (Note: there were minor edits to my original article, although the changes are unworthy of notation)

Kat Reed Offers Practical Organizational Help for Survivors
SAINT PAUL,MN—Following the funeral, after everyone has left and you return to the empty residence of the departed, where do you begin? Begin Here: Helping Survivors Manage is a hands-on manual to help individuals manage practical tasks after a death.

For whatever reason, death has never been a topic of discomfort for me. Everyone dies and I always thought of it as a completely natural transition and part of life. In 2006, our mom complained about something that was bothering her on the inside of her mouth “like a pimple that would not go away”. It turned out to be oral cancer and in July of 2007, my mother died. Everyone asks “did she smoke?” my reply, “Never, she was in excellent health throughout her life, she never drank, nor smoked, was always thin, she never even cussed and she died just a month after her 66th birthday. Way too young.” After she died, I stayed with my dad to help him with the business of death. He was completely distraught and unable to function without the love of his life. In the following days and weeks, I searched for a resource that would tell me what to do after the death of a loved one. I knew there must be something available to tell me what I needed to do and how to close credit card accounts, notify credit reporting agencies and such. I did not have much luck and found only a few lists online. Being a list driven person, I decided to create my own task list in an Excel spreadsheet. Every day, my dad and I would look at each other and question, “How do people manage all this when they don’t have fi ve strong, able-bodied, hardworking surviving children?”

The following year, typical of many couples after one dies, my dad passed. I was holding his hand when he died in the hospital. The following day, August 8, 2008 would have been our parents’ 49th wedding anniversary; I was convinced he could not bear one more day without my mom. My fiancé and I had planned to elope on their anniversary, as it was also his parents’ anniversary. We didn’t share our plans of eloping with anyone until after my dad died. When I told my sister-in-law, she said “why don’t you still do it?” Frankly, it had not entered my mind, but after some thought, I asked my sister if she thought it would be a good idea. She was really happy and said we should. We did. My siblings handled all the business matters of my dad’s death back in Illinois while we started our married life in Minnesota.

While establishing myself as a bookkeeper in my new surroundings, I met a woman through a networking event. While getting to know each other, we shared our similar experiences with our parents’ deaths. We talked about how we were clueless as to what to do and how there wasn’t anything available to help people through this troubling time. I told her about my Excel spreadsheet and she said “you should write a book about it” I promptly replied, “you’re crazy!”

That night and the following days, I searched everywhere; online, libraries, bookstores, there must have been something that I missed. I found incomplete lists, suggestions, but nothing comprehensive. My mind’s eye was showing me: an 88 year old widow who not only did not balance or use the check book, but did not even know what bank the family used; or people with no children or support system to help them. I saw the worst case scenario, empathized with these people and felt compelled to help them somehow.

I proceeded to contact everyone I knew who had lost a loved one and had to handle all the administrative details for the decedent. Did they find anything? I contacted funeral directors, Hospice, clergy, healthcare professionals, death-care professionals, and financial planners. I got the same answer “there isn’t anything and I wish there was…Yes, I would buy it if you wrote it.”

So I did. I titled the book/toolkit Begin Here: Helping Survivors Manage. I self-published it and have sold over 1,600 copies to date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average number of deaths per day between 1990 and 2007 in the US was 6,109. I think of all these people, struggling with the issues my dad and I faced, and I want to help each and every one of them. No matter how much people prepare for death, few have letters ready to send to creditors to cancel their own accounts, or have made plans to have someone get their mail, or handle their pet’s medication schedule at a moment’s notice. These are not tasks we put in our will. They are tasks that fall to the survivor of the decedent and they are very important.

This toolkit is valuable for anyone who has the burden of managing these tasks when it is all you can do to keep your head above water, let alone try to think of everything you need to do. Part checklist, part appointment calendar, part address book, all you need wrapped up in one book. The goal is to eventually provide customized books/tools for different religions, and specific death circumstances, in several languages, all over the world; and to provide an online version. Complementary to all the other tools available, I hope Begin Here: Helping Survivors Manage will help anyone manage this most difficult of times. This book will not make the journey easy; but I assure you, this toolkit will make it less difficult.

Kat Reed has over 25 years of experience in the financial/business world. Her background in bookkeeping and office management gives her the unique ability to address both details and the big picture. She has been a hospice volunteer and has an amazing affinity for the elderly. To purchase her book Begin Here: Helping Survivors Manage, visit www.helpingsurvivorsmanage.com.

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