Grief in the Silver Screen

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

What grief looks and feels like varies from person to person. One way to understand grief from different perspectives is by watching movies. Movies always mirror real life, some better than others. There are movies about preparing for the death of a loved ones, the journey on the final days of a loved one, or the journey after the death of a loved one. Have some tissues ready because here is a list of movies who capture grief perfectly:


  1. Up (2009)

This animated film stirred up more feelings in the first 15 minutes than any other movie at the time. If you had a chance to watch it in theatres you probably heard a lot of sniffles. This story is about how Carl, an old widow, refuses to leave his home he shared with his beloved wife. The adventure he takes helps him grieve for his wife. This film teaches different lessons about life.

  1. Lullaby (2014)

Lullaby shows the journey of a family who has to come to terms that their father has chosen to die after a long battle with cancer. This film sparks the conversation of assisted death and how it affects everyone around you.

  1. The Descendants (2011)

George Clooney plays a father who has to make some tough life choices after his wife ends in a coma after a horrible accident. He faces the challenges of trying to connect with his daughters who are also coping with their mother’s possible death. He goes through anger and sadness.

  1. A Monster Calls (2016)

This movie shows the coping mechanisms a child uses to cope with the possible death of a loved one. A Monster Calls is an adaptation of the novel of the same name.  This movie gives the perspective of what a looming death looks like to a child.

  1. My Sister’s Keeper (2009)

Watching this film makes you wonder if it is based on a true story. This movie tells the story of a young girl who wants to become emancipated from her parents who conceived her to be a bone marrow donor for her older sister. This movie demonstrates how hard death can be when you see it knocking at your door.

  1. P.S. I Love You (2007)

P.S. I Love You shows the long journey of grieving. This movie does a great job showing how grieving can take longer than a year for some. It also shows that sometimes just pushing yourself outside your comfort zone can help.

  1. Ghost (1990)

Even though this movie is more of a thriller drama, it has a very strong character who is grieving. Demi Moore plays a women who handles the death of her loved one strongly. When the movie is over you are left feeling that she will be okay.

  1. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

This is another movie about grieving through the eyes of a child. This movie resonates with many Americans because the child lost a parent during the 9-11 attacks. During the 9-11 attacks it wasn’t just New York families who were grieving but the entire nation.

  1. Taking Chance (2009)

Taking Chance is a movie about a soldier, Chance, who is taken home after dying overseas. The movie follows the impact Chance’s death had on people in his hometown. This movie does a great job on highlighting how death affects everyone around. It also shows what a lot of small towns go through when a local men join the military.

  1. Marley & Me (2008)

If you have ever owned a pet, this movie will bring up a lot of feelings. You will relive how it felt to lose your pet who eventually became your family. This movie shows that even a death of a pet takes time to grieve.


There are so many movies that deal with grief. Hollywood is always making new movies but I couldn’t end this list without some honorable mentions. The first one is a Robin Williams classic, What Dreams May Come (1998). This movie combines fantasy with grief. A real tear-jerker is The Fault in our Stars (2014). This movie did not leave a dry eye in the audience. The last two honorable mentions are two recent Oscar nominated films: Jackie (2016) and Manchester by the Sea (2016). Both of these films death with the aftermath of a death of a beloved loved one.

Advance Funeral Planning

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The thought of walking into a funeral home is terrifying. Most of the time you only set foot in a
funeral home after someone you know has passed. The days following a death of a loved one are
chaotic. There is a lot of planning that needs to be done for the funeral. Money must be gathered and
decisions need to be made within a few days. Often these decisions are driven by grief and guilt rather
than a sound mind and rationalization.
Advance funeral planning helps cut down the stress and pressure a loved one goes through when
planning a funeral. The best part about prearranging is that you get to pick everything for your own
funeral. From the music, to the clothing even the verses you want read and who to invite.
Prearranging is simple and truly lifts a burden from you family. Your loved ones will be able to focus
on you and your life. The pressure of worrying if the decisions made for you about your funeral
arrangements would please you, will be gone. By prearranging your funeral, you would also eliminate
the financial burden for the ones left behind and in most cases, save a significant amount of money as
The first step in planning your ceremony is setting an appointment with a funeral director. You do not
have to start planning right away, but this initial meeting will help guide you through the process and
look at your options.
The next step is deciding how much you want to preplan. You can decide everything from the music
playing and programs to flowers arrangements. Or you can just choose the most common items like a
casket. Overall you have final say on what exactly you would like to prearrange.
Advance funeral planning is beneficial for you and your family. Help your loves by contacting
McMahan’s Funeral Home to set up an Advance Funeral Planning meeting.

Funeral Services Etiquette

Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Do you ever have questions about the do’s and don’ts of a funeral service? Well each religion and culture have different customs. Here are the most common ones that will help you feel more at ease when attending a funeral.
Isn’t a funeral and a memorial service the same thing?
A funeral service has the body of the deceased present. While a memorial does not have the body present. Sometimes a memorial is just a service remembering the deceased. In some cultures it is accustomed to hold memorial services every year on the birthday of the deceased.
Do you have to go to the viewing?
No. You are welcomed to attend to show respect but you are not forced to. If you still want to attend but don’t want to see the body there a simple solution. When you arrive you can either go to another room or sit in the back. The viewing in some cultures is the time when people pray in silence for the deceased.
Do I sign the register/guestbook? Do I sign it twice?
The register/guestbook is for everyone who attended the viewing or the funeral. It is not limited to just family. There is only one guestbook so if you signed it at the viewing it is recommend not to sign it again at the funeral. The guestbook is for the family to look back and see who all attended. Sometimes families send out thank you cards based on who signed the book.
What if the funeral service is at a church and I’m not religious, can I go?
Yes! A funeral service is not just for religion. A funeral service is the time where people gather to celebrate the life of the deceased. You don’t have to participate in the customs of the church because you are there. Remember everyone is there for the same reason.
Where do I sit?
Typically the first two rows are for the immediate and extended family. The closer the person was to the deceased the closer they tend to sit. If you don’t feel like it’s your place to sit close you don’t have to.
Do I bring a gift?
Gifts are always welcomed especially if the family asked for one. A common gift is flowers. If they are sent before the service they can be used to decorate the viewing, funeral and/or memorial. Sometimes the family will list an organization they wish people will donate to and that is acceptable as well.
What if the burial is at a different location?
If there is a secondary site, guest will drive to the location by following a hearse. Remember to turn on your lights so it signals that you are part of the procession.
What do I do at the burial?
At the burial site there will usually be a handful of seats available. Those seats are for immediate family only. Everyone else will stand behind them or around the casket.

When a Friend Loses a Loved One: What to Say and What Not to Say

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

When someone goes through a loss, it can be very difficult to know the right thing to say. You know you can’t end their pain, and you can’t quite understand what exactly they are going through. You may have endured a similar or even the same loss, but no two people experience pain or loss in the exact same way. One thing that everyone needs when they are going through a difficulty like this is love and support from the people around them.

Here is what you should say to someone experiencing loss:

  • Although it can feel awkward, acknowledge the situation: “I heard about your ___ dying.” Using the word “dying” or “died” shows the person that you are open to talk to about how they really feel, rather than tip-toeing around the situation.
  • Express your concern. Always include something like, “I am so sorry this happened to you.”
  • Offer your support. “Is there anything I can do for you?” or better, “please let me know what I can do.”
  • Ask how he or she feels. Like we said before, even if you have experienced something similar, never assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.


And just as importantly, here are examples of what to avoid saying to a grieving person:

  • “I know how you feel.” It can seem natural to say this because typically it can be comforting to know that someone understands you. But in this case, especially if the loss is fresh or recent, it can be counterproductive. Even if you each lost the same family member or something to that effect, you can never quite know what that person may be going through.
  • “It’s part of God’s plan.” No matter how religious, this can make people very angry. Even if they believe it is true, it’s not what they want to hear right now.
  • “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” Being thankful for other things in their life does not negate the severity of this particular thing.
  • “He’s in a better place now.” The person may or may not believe this. It is safer to keep your views to yourself unless asked. And again, even if they do believe it, they would still prefer that the person had remained right here, in this place.
  • “This is behind you now; it’s time to move on with your life.” This can come off as very insensitive, because everyone “moves on” at their own pace. Grief has a mind of its own and can hold someone hostage for a longer time than others. Additionally, people can be very resistant to this because they don’t want to “forget” his or her loved one.
  • Statements that begin with “you should” or “you will.” These statements are too directive. Instead, begin your comments with: “Have you thought about…” or “you might….”

Myths vs. Facts about Grief

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult. It is a part of life that leaves pretty much everyone, appropriately put, at a loss – we don’t know which way is the right way to deal with it. The truth is that there is no “right way” of dealing with death because everyone processes it differently, and that’s okay. There are several myths that we sometimes tell ourselves in the face of grief which aren’t necessarily the case:

Myth: Ignoring the pain will make it easier and go away faster.
Fact: Pushing your pain to the backburner or ignoring it completely will, in fact, only make it last longer – and make it much worse to deal with in the long run. In order to truly heal, we must face our loss head on and actively deal with it.
Myth: It’s necessary to “stay strong” when dealing with death.
Fact: Feeling sad, lonely, or lost are natural responses to loss. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness! You don’t owe it to anyone, even your friends and family, to put up a brave front. This is your pain, and showing it can help them help you.
Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you’re not really sad.
Fact: Crying is a normal reaction to sorrow, but it isn’t the “right” or only one. Those who don’t cry may very well be feeling the loss just as deeply as those who do, they just show it in a different way.
Myth: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There isn’t a right or wrong time frame for your grieving process. Each person goes through the experience differently, and it doesn’t mean anyone is stronger than another based on how long it takes.

Dealing with loss is painful any way you slice it, but we can take comfort in knowing that there is no wrong method of coping. The key to healthy grieving is letting yourself feel, in order to truly heal.

Preneed Services

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

We get it; nobody wants to think about their death. While it may be a grim subject, there are many important questions that need to be addressed in case the time comes. What are you doing to make sure that you are properly remembered? Is your family going to struggle with the payment of your funeral?

Sorting these things out now can help ease the stress on your family at a time when they need the stress the least. That is why preneed service exists for your funeral needs. Funeral homes are able to get everything taken care of before you pass on, lightening the load for your family.

The Holidays

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Grief around the Holidays can be a hard thing to deal with. If you lost a loved one, it can seem like your time honored family Holiday traditions will never be the same. While your Holidays never will be quite the same, that does not mean you should let your grief take over you and your family’s Holiday season. In a time of much grief within a family, the natural reaction would be to separate from a situation that would make you upset. Some people react by skipping Holiday events like Christmas or Thanksgiving. However, the more healing thing to do is to gather the family together to heal together. Share stories. Laugh. Cry. Remember the one you lost in whatever way you want, but whatever happens stick together as a family. It won’t be easy, but the love a family has for one another is enough to keep everyone together in a hard time.

The Five Stages of Grief

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

For our inaugural blog entry, we’ll be looking at some of the common ways people cope with grief, based on the Kübler-Ross model outlined in the famous book On Death and Dying. Please note: all people are different, and not everyone will experience these stages the same exact way. We want to stress that there is no wrong way to grieve! However, these stages are a good overall guide for what to expect in the event of a loss – or if you need to help a friend or family member through their own losses.

The stages, in order, are as follows:


Usually, the first stage is shock and denial. Numbness may set in after a traumatic loss, and the whole situation may feel surreal. Do not mistake these feelings (or lack of feelings) for a lack of caring! This is a coping mechanism to shut one’s self away from the reality of the situation, and it may take a while for the true weight of the loss to sink in.


The second stage of grief is anger. This anger could be directed inward, out at others, or at God or the universe. People will question why they have to be the ones carry such a heavy burden. If you know someone dealing with loss, try your best to be as nonjudgmental as possible, even if their anger seems misplaced or irrational.


This stage may include thoughts about what could have been done to stop the loss from happening – even though the situation was probably completely out of the person’s control. It is good to try to find resolution during this time (if it’s yourself), or to help your friend/family member find resolution, as constant self-incrimination and guilt could be damaging to the overall healing process.


The next stage is depression. Those dealing with loss may wonder why they need to go on. All things, even those once held dear, lose meaning, and the person may spend a lot of time alone working through the cloud of regret, fear, and uncertainty that has finally started to settle in. While a difficult phase, dealing with these feelings is perfectly normal, and is even an early form of the true acceptance that will come later.

But, even if things look dark at this point, there is hope and healing just on the horizon…


The last stage – and the light at the end of the long tunnel – is acceptance. Those who have felt loss are now able to work through the process in a calm way and finally come to terms with what happened. Life is never the same after loss, of course. Many who have dealt with such things often report that they are able to live normally, make new connections with people, and feel joy, but it’s a “new normal.”

However, even if things can never be exactly the same again, it is completely possible to heal, come to acceptance with the past, and once again look forward with hope! Healing is always, always a possibility! No matter how dark things seem, there is a point where you will be able to look back on the memories of your loved one with happiness and fondness, not just crushing sadness.

At McMahan’s Funeral Home, we always meet people right where they are, no matter what step they are currently on in the journey through grief.