Candace Craw-Goldman


My good friend, Candace Craw-Goldman, has written a great blog, In Repose, for quite a while now.  The blog is designed to support her online memorial site, In Repose, which offers a more attractive way to memorialize loved ones on the Internet.

Unfortunately, the business model didn’t work.  In fact, Candace shared with me the disappointment that so few of the thousands of blog visitors ever became paying members of In Repose.

I’m proud that Candace is able to recognize that it’s time to make a change.  She told me that if she had an unlimited budget and a staff of employees she’d soldier on, she also knows what’s important to her, which she shares here:

What I do have is another business that keeps me busy, a paddock full of horses that need attention, an elderly mother that needs more and more daily care, a husband, two kids, and a small ranch to run, not to mention that dang new puppy. I tried, and succeeded in adding In Repose to that list for many months…hoping our memorials and last wishes would be discovered.

I hope Candace will continue writing her blog.  Her writing style is pleasant and her take on this industry has been a surprisingly fresh and honest one.

No matter what Candace does in the future, you can be sure that I’ll continue to seek her opinion on this blog.  In fact, I’ll try to lasso her into writing at least one thing a month for Final Embrace.

Happy trails, Candace!

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I surf the Internet a lot.  Mostly, I’m looking for stuff I can steal borrow for this blog.

Here’s a round up of some sites I especially enjoy and an itsy-bitsy reason you should love them too:

 

RESPECTANCE.  These folks were at the NFDA Convention in Vegas.  Their blog details the great stuff they saw and people they met at the show. 

American Heart Association

Their site (the “MySpace of Funerals”) is the kind of thing today’s youth will be (and is) using to commemorate their loved ones.  This is truly the future of grief and memorialization.

VIEW FROM A HEARSE.  The online blog home of Bruce Goddard.  Bruce is a humorist, author, motivational speaker and undertaker.  He talks about funerals, his family, his views on everything under the sun and a lot more.  Sometimes I disagree with him.  Sometimes I laugh.  Other times, his sharp observations make me cry.  Bruce is awesome.

MY FUNKY FUNERAL.  Who are these people?  I don’t know yet, but I love the site.  Their blog is full of exciting stuff about famous funerals, wacky funerals and exciting new products.  They encourage their visitors to “go out in style and punctuate your life with a smile!”

FINAL REFLECTIONS.  Deidre Blair, one of our contributors, writes this blog from the perspective of an event planner.  Deidre’s ideas are spot-on and the kinds of things our hard-wired, funeral-focused minds often miss.  Her posts on after-funeral receptions are a must-read.

EMBALMED TO THE MAX.  Written by a mortuary science student, this blog features some wacky (but interesting) articles about funerals, death, the industry and more.  It’s nice to get the perspective of a newcomer to the industry.

IN REPOSE.  My friend and our contributor, Candace Craw-Goldman, writes this insightful blog from the perspective of a consumer and photographer.  Candace’s photography is luscious and thought-provoking.  Her photographs of people and animals are particularly impressive.  But even more inspiring is her writing about this industry.  Her website, In Repose, helps people memorialize their loved ones and write their own final tributes.  Many of her blog posts deal with the things she’s learned serving her customers.  Read it.  You’ll love it.

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 A good friend asked me what it felt like to help my mother actually write her very first story about her life in Czechoslovakia during the war.  I was surprised how many emotions flooded forward.  I felt so many things.

I believe the first emotion was a sense of accomplishment.  I have wanted to record some of our family stories for quite some time now and I was very happy to have one completed.  I really feel like this is just the first step of a very important journey, perhaps one of the most important things for me to accomplish in my life!

My mother has severe arthritis and can not really write or type so needs someone to record her words.  Writing as a team is not very easy, especially with mama’s train of thought. Sometimes she would begin the tale and be reminded of so many other stories during the telling of the first, it was hard at times to keep track of where we were.  Immersing herself in the details of the time brought other memories to the fore, and there were many starts and stops.  But this was wonderful, you see, as these are simply more stories bubbling up from the past and we will record those too.

My mother was very young when her own parents died. She was barely a child of four when she no longer had a mother.  “What was she like?”  I would ask my mama when I was younger.  Well, who knew?  There were no stories you see, to refer to.  No one alive left to ask, no tales written, no where to look for clues to what kind of person my grandmother Rose was.  This has always seemed to me to be a terrible loss.  What was life like for Rose?  What made her happy?  What were her dreams?  Was she funny or was she a good cook?  Was she anything like me at all?  What did she look like?  Is my own daughter a spitting image of Rose at the age of 17?  No one knows.  No one will ever know.

Sometimes I think we think of “history” as something that has happened to masses of faceless and nameless folks and a few special characters that we read about in books; leaders or other notable figures.  But “history” is really our stories.  My mama’s life, especially in Europe during the war is her story.  And so, it is my story and family’s story too and part of the fabric of history itself.

Don’t you wonder sometimes how history is recorded?  Who decides what was important to record?  Only the newspapers?  The television programs?  I feel like I am recording something worthwhile that might so easily be lost to the world; the life of one young German/Czechoslovakian girl, living a parallel life to the famous Anne Frank.  How differently the world might imagine that time without that one girl’s thoughts and voice?

There have been those few narrow minded people in my mama’s life that have chided “her part” in the shameful piece of history associated with Hitler’s Germany.  As if she had had a choice.  She was a child and a girl.  Czechoslovakia and Germany were in those days much like China or other oppressive countries are now.  The government decided what “news” you read or heard on the radio.  Rumor, whispers and official proclamations were often at odds with reality.  Friends and neighbors died or were killed mysteriously.  Fear was rampant.  Food and shelter tenuous.  Some people committed suicide to escape the horror.  Who was to survive?

Recording this story and others to come, helps my own sense of family integrity, even when others, so far past the events of the time, proclaim that mama was on the “wrong” side of history, and that, even as a teenager she could have “done something” to help the terrible plight of the Jews.  Her own father, a civilian, was killed by errant Russian sniper fire and she was left alone with a stepmother and little sister and not enough to eat.  Well she did something alright and soon we will record stories on how she essentially saved her stepmother’s life and her sister’s life too.  She set her sights on becoming an American as quickly as she could, and followed this dream single-mindedly.

And so becoming an American, was exactly what my mama did.

Collecting her stories before and after the war archives one young woman’s dream of freedom and allows future generations of our family to know how it was that they ended up being born here, in America, in the greatest country on earth.  Recounting the details of life then and now makes me a very patriotic person. America was my mama’s salvation.  It is my cherished home.  These stories allow us to understand others’ current dreams to immigrate to this country.

Every person has family stories to tell, historic or incidental, big or small, funny or sad, long discourses or short little tales.  And even if your family has heard these stories many times, if you don’t record them with the person who lived them, you will get things wrong.  You will mix up the details.  I know I would have done so, if I would have tried to tell the story of the first time my mama rode a horse after her death.

I am grateful that my mother is recording her stories with me because I feel that I am honoring her now, when she can appreciate that fact.  Also this gives her the opportunity to play a real part in how she will be remembered in the future.  My grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren will never have to wonder what “Baba” was like.  They will read her safely archived stories, hear her voice, and unlike my faceless and mysterious grandmother Rose, they will know her.

And so will history itself.

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Candace Craw-Goldman is a photographer, artist and mother of teenagers.   

Her website, Inrepose.com, offers elegant multimedia Online Memorials, services to help you record your Last Wishes, and a comprehensive, interactive information Resource Forum where one can learn about end-of-life issues. InRepose Blog and the Resource Forum offer a unique online community for learning and sharing.

I’ve lured so many great writers to the blog (Kim Stacey, Don Shell, etc.) that I’ve added separate links for each of their growing collections.

If you look at the categories to the right (choosing a category helps you find other articles that have been assigned or “tagged” with a theme) you’ll see links for the following writers:

Kim Stacey, funeral home copywriter and owner of Marketing Funeral Services
Don Shell, Lifestory Network writer
Robin Richter, HR Expert and “Queen of the Scrappers
Bryan Chandler, owner of Chandler Funeral Home and Cremation Service
Candace Craw-Goldman
, photographer and owner of In Repose
Deidre Blair, event planner and owner of Final Reflections

 Of course, we’re still looking for a “few good writers” who want to share their insights.

So drop us a line or comment hear if you’ve got something to contribute, a product to share with our readers or an interesting story to relate.

Memory is a strange beast.  Especially, it seems, during shock, or trauma.

 My brother was killed suddenly in 1989 and the images of the event and its aftermath run through my mind in a sort of slideshow or scrapbook.   Some memories are filled with moments of horror, others with kindness and tenderness.  At a time like this, some very small details seem to matter a great deal, perhaps more than one might imagine.

 Together my mom and dad and my husband and I decided on cremation for Randy and then a service to be held at the funeral home.  Snapshots of moments of those days will remain with me always.  The service ran smoothly and had some lovely moments, I remember that the funeral home did a good job taking care of us that day.

 But perhaps one of the hardest memories for me was many days later while our family was still sick with grief, when my dad brought home Randy’s remains.  He walked through the door and with utter sadness handed me a brown tin can.  “Here is your brother.”

 Now it had been decided already, primarily by me, to not purchase an urn of any kind from the funeral home or anywhere else, because as an artist and his sister, I wanted to create a special container for Randy’s remains, and I did do exactly that.

 But it was still quite disconcerting to be handed the tin can.  I guess it was better than a cardboard box, but this can seemed no better than the old tin coffee cans that held the bird seed or the mismatched nuts and bolts in the garage.

 I understand that funeral homes and crematoriums are businesses which by their very nature exist to make a profit for their owners.  So, no, I did not and would not expect a fancy, expensive container, especially since I know an urn sale was offered and also declined.  That did not make the vision of my brother’s remains in a “coffee can” any easier to accept.

 When dad came home with that ugly brown can, it was just one little detail of that horrible time, but it was also one more blow to my already broken heart and remains one of my clearest memories of the funeral home and that most terrible time of my life.

 What would have been nice is a container that, even if very inexpensive in material or construction, would have been more thoughtful.  The tin can could have still been used but maybe it could have been wrapped in a gossamer fabric, or the ashes perhaps put in a small velveteen bag?  A simple wooden box would have been acceptable, even paper can be elegant given enough thought.  It was the lack of thought that struck me.

This?  This is how my brother comes home for the very last time?

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Candace Craw-Goldman is a photographer, artist and mother of teenagers.   

Her website, Inrepose.com, offers elegant multimedia Online Memorials, services to help you record your Last Wishes, and a comprehensive, interactive information Resource Forum where one can learn about end-of-life issues. InRepose Blog and the Resource Forum offer a unique online community for learning and sharing.