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How to Avoid Making Grief Worse

One of the cremation services offered in College Park, MD is to provide advice about comforting and supporting families who are grieving over the death of their loved one. No one ever wants to make grief worse because they do or say something that they shouldn’t have said or done.

Most of us are uncomfortable with speaking to bereaved families because we don’t want to cause them any more pain. However, we also tend to say or do things that we think will help or be okay, and they do not or are not.

Here is a quick guide to some things that you can do to avoid making grief worse for your family members and friends when they have lost a love one.

The pain of grief is fresh and it is right at the surface. Because of that, almost everything the grieving person hears gets filtered through the emotions they are experiencing. Therefore, you might say something that, of and by itself, is okay, but its effect on the grieving person is not good and they react in a way that surprises you.

It might surprise you to learn that grief and anger are very close to each other on the emotional spectrum. Therefore, if you say things that come across as trite, callous, rude, disrespectful, or dismissive, the grieving person may lash out at you in anger.

What are some of the things you might say – and have probably heard said to grieving people – that could cause someone who is grieving to experience even more grief, even though that is not what you mean to do?

Platitudes are something that could make someone’s grief worse. Platitudes are expressions that we say without thinking. They roll off our tongues, but they don’t have any real feeling or understanding behind them.

If you offer platitudes to someone who is grieving, they may get the impression that you don’t really care enough about them to feel what they’re feeling and to comfort them through empathy and compassion.

Here are some common examples of platitudes.

“All things work together for good.” The person that you are speaking to does not see the loss of their loved one as good. They do not feel good. They are not going to feel good for a long time and the death of their loved one is never going to be something they view as a good thing. This platitude can appear to dismissive of the pain they are experiencing.

“They are in a better place.” This platitude can make grief worse because it suggests that the person’s loved one was not in the best place they could be when they were alive. That can come across as an insult to the person you are trying to console.

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“Everything will be okay.” This platitude may make grief worse because right now, for the person you are speaking to, everything is not okay. They lost somebody they love. That person is gone and that is not okay. This platitude can sound callous, because it can seem as though you do not see that the life of the person you are trying to comfort is currently anything but okay.

“Let me know if you need anything.” This is a common platitude that grieving people hear. While you may genuinely mean it when you say it, the person you are talking to has no idea what they need now or will need in the future.

If you want information about cremation services offered in College Park, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Who Works at Funeral Homes?

When people plan funerals at funeral homes in College Park, MD, they encounter many different types of professionals who make the funeral process easier and smoother. Here are some of the people who will be involved in making sure the funeral for your loved one happens exactly to your specifications and without any hiccups.

The Funeral Director

One professional that you will find at funeral homes is the funeral director. The funeral director is your go-to person for every aspect of the funeral planning for your loved one. The funeral director will answer all your questions and give you guidance and help from start to finish with your loved one’s funeral.

The funeral director takes care of all the details. The funeral director will set up the funeral service according to your instructions. If you want to have a viewing and/or visitation for your loved one, the funeral director will have everything in place for those.

The funeral director will also make arrangements for burial with the cemetery. If your loved one is a military veteran and you want military funeral honors for them, the funeral director will make arrangements for that as well.

In addition, the funeral director will take care of getting death certificates. You will need these to take care of your loved one’s final affairs.

Office Staff

Your loved one’s funeral will involve a lot of paperwork that needs to be completed and processed. The office staff at the funeral home will work in tandem with the funeral director to make sure every piece of paperwork is done, and they will make sure that you don’t miss any details with planning your loved one’s funeral.

The office staff in the funeral home are also a great resource for any questions you may think of during the funeral planning process, so count on them to be available if you have a question or need to know something that you forgot to mention while you were at the funeral home making funeral arrangements for your loved one or at any other time before or after your loved one’s funeral.

Financial Advisors

Your funeral home has financial advisors who can help you plan a funeral for your loved one that fits into your budget. These are skilled professionals who can give you all the options for your loved one’s funeral and then help you find the best options for the budget you have.

If your loved one had burial insurance, the funeral home’s financial advisors will process that and claim the policy benefit to apply to the cost of the funeral. That is one less thing that you will have to worry about while you are preparing for your loved one’s funeral.

Funeral Greeters

Your funeral home has funeral greeters who will help out with parking and giving people instructions during the viewing and/or visitation and funeral service. Their job is to direct the flow of people in an orderly fashion.

Funeral greeters will direct people to the room where your loved one’s funeral is being held. They will make sure that everyone signs the guest book, and they will help with seating everyone who is attending.

There are other people who work in funeral homes that you may never see, but you can be assured that every single employee is dedicated to meeting the needs of you and your family as you say goodbye to your loved one.

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If you’d like to talk about planning funerals at funeral homes in College Park, MD, our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. can help.

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What is a Columbarium Niche?

After cremation services in Adelphi, MD, you have a lot of options for what you want to do with your loved one’s cremation remains. One option that you have is to permanently store the cremation remains of your loved one in a columbarium niche.

A columbarium is a structure that contains small vaults where urns with the cremation remains of loved ones can be stored. A columbarium may be a separate building in a cemetery, or it might be part of a cemetery mausoleum.

However, a columbarium is a final resting place for the cremation remains of loved ones, so it is treated with respect and honor just like any other final resting place.

Each vault (also known as a niche) in a columbarium is large enough to hold urn or cremation container with your loved one’s cremation remains, as well as a few small items that may have had special meaning to your loved one.

Some columbarium niches have a clear piece of glass (that lets you see the contents inside the niche) with memorial information for your loved one on a plate underneath the niche. Other columbarium niches have solid grave maker (with your loved one’s memorial information on them) covering them.

If you want your loved one’s cremation remains stored in a particular style of columbarium niche (clear glass or solid gravestone), your funeral home director will make sure that your wishes are honored.

Not all columbarium niches are the same size. Columbarium niches that are designed for a single urn are about nine cubic inches. However, some columbariums have bigger niches that can accommodate multiple (two or more) urns so that family members can be stored together.

Therefore, when you are thinking about a columbarium niche for your loved one who has died, the size you choose may be a factor if you and/or other family members want to be stored with them when you and/or they die.

Columbarium niches are a very good option with cremation services because they serve many practical purposes.

One practical purpose of a cremation niche for your loved one’s cremation remains is that friends and family have a fixed site where they can spend time with your loved one. When families keep urns in private homes, no one can spend time with that loved one unless they visit the home.

With a columbarium, however, friends and family can visit with your deceased loved one without having to plan a visit or ask for permission during the hours when the cemetery is open, and in that sense, it is similar to a grave site.

Another practical reason for choosing to store your loved one’s urn in a columbarium is space. In larger cities across America, cemeteries no longer have much space for burials. These cemeteries find it difficult to expand horizontally either because there is no available land or because the purchase price of available land is cost-prohibitive.

To counter this dilemma and to still meet the needs of the public, cemeteries are using the remaining space they have to expand vertically by building columbariums. This greatly increases the number of spots they have to offer as final resting places for deceased loved ones.

That is because columbariums inhabit a small amount of horizontal land space, but they can inhabit a lot of vertical air space.

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Some columbariums have a small number of niches, while others have an almost infinite supply of niches. No matter how tall a columbarium is built, it is designed so that all the niches are easy to get to and so that there is private space at niches to allow families to have private time with their deceased loved ones.

If you want more information about columbariums and cremation services in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Making Funeral Arrangements at Funeral Homes

When making funeral arrangements at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD, people who are doing it for the first time often do not know what they need to bring to start the funeral process. There are several things that you will need to take with you to the funeral home when you are making funeral arrangements for your loved one.

Hopefully, your loved one was organized and had thought about their funeral in advance. If so, you will already know where their important papers are so that some of these items will be easy to locate.

However, not everyone thinks in advance about their death, even sometimes in the case of terminal illnesses where the outcome is certain, and it may take some time to find all the documents the funeral director will need to start planning your loved one’s funeral.

Here is a list of the documents you should take with you when you go to the funeral home:

  • Your loved one’s birth certificate
  • Your loved one’s Social Security card
  • Your loved one’s marriage certificate (or divorce decree, if applicable)

If your loved one served in the United States military and was discharged with any status other than a dishonorable discharge, your loved one is entitled to several military funeral benefits. These include free burial or inurnment in a national or state cemetery, a free grave marker, and military funeral honors.

Even if your loved one will be buried or inurned in a private cemetery, they are still entitled to a free grave marker and military funeral honors.

In order for your funeral director to arrange these military funeral benefits with the local Department of Veterans Affair office, they will need to make a copy of your loved one’s military separation orders (Form DD-214), so if you want the benefits, you should take this with you as well when you go to make funeral arrangements.

You should bring clothes for your loved one to be dressed in as part of the embalming process. While in the past, the standard funeral clothing was more formal (suits and ties for men and Sunday dresses for women), things have changed enough so that you can choose how you want your loved one dressed for burial.

Some people choose to have their loved ones buried in clothes that everyone will recognize them in or the clothes they loved best, while others go the more traditional route and dress their loved ones more formally. The choice is entirely yours.

You will also need to provide information about your loved one to your funeral director. For the death certificate, you’ll need to provide your loved one’s occupation (your funeral director will also use the birth certificate and Social Security card for the death certificate).

You should also be prepared to provide details for your loved one’s obituary, if they or you have not written one and you want the funeral home to write it for you. It’s best to not put too much personal information in the obituary for your loved one.

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The street address where they died (and of other family members) should not be included. People who break into homes routinely scan obituaries to find out when no one will be home at the street addresses listed, and they target those homes.

Additionally, it’s best not to include their date of birth to prevent potential identity theft.

If you’d like to know more about making funeral arrangements at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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When Spouses Can’t Agree on Final Dispositions

You may be thinking about having cremation services in College Park, MD, but your spouse may want you to be buried instead, or you may want to be buried and your spouse wants you to have cremation services. You are both at an impasse.

It is not unusual for even the closest of spouses – who are generally in agreement about major things – to have disagreements during their marriage. Most of these are minor disagreements. They may disagree about how the toilet paper goes on the roller or what the right way to load the dishwasher is or what to have for dinner when no one is in the mood to cook.

These disagreements are the basis of a married couple’s story and they become part of their humorous legacy as the years of their marriage pass.

But, sometimes, disagreements are serious, and these may come when spouses start discussing the end of their lives. If you and your spouse are in disagreement over whether you want burial services or cremation services and you’re having a hard time finding any middle ground, you are not alone. It happens far more often than you might imagine.

However, there are some suggestions that you and your spouse can follow to try to reach a solution amicably.

First, treat each other with respect as you talk about the final disposition that each of you wants. Maybe you want to be cremated and your spouse wants to be buried. It’s important that each of you knows why the other wants the final disposition they’ve chosen.

Instead of arguing with each other and trying to convince each other that one person is right, and the other person is wrong, you both should ask questions about why your spouse has chosen a particular final disposition.

You may be surprised at the answers you both give, and you will both certainly have a better understanding of where you are coming from in advocating for the particular final disposition you want.

Second, you should spend time together doing research on burials and cremation services. For example, your spouse may be opposed to cremation services because they are terrified of being burned up (no fire is involved, in actuality).

Maybe they think they won’t be able to have a full range of funeral services if they are cremated (they will). Perhaps you have cemetery plots in a church or family graveyard that your spouse wants to use (urns can be buried in cemetery plots).

The more you both know, the closer you will come to be able to resolve your differences and choose a final disposition that works for both of you.

For an accurate and authentic guide to cremation services and burials, you and your spouse should make an appointment with the funeral home to talk with the funeral director about both methods of final disposition.

The funeral director will be able to give you answers to any questions you may have and can guide you step-by-step through both burials and cremation services so that you and your spouse have a full understanding of what is involved and what other funeral services are available for each.


While all of this may not put an immediate end to the disagreement you and your spouse have about your final dispositions, it can keep the door open to continue discussing it. You both have more knowledge so that you can keep talking about your funeral plans and make informed decisions about what you want when you die.

If you would like more information about cremation services offered in College Park, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Why Have a Visitation?

When planning funerals at funeral homes in College Park, MD, one of the things that funeral directors ask people is whether they want to have visitation for their loved ones. You may not know whether you should have a visitation for your loved one or not, but there are some good reasons to consider having one.

First, it’s important for you to know that you can have a visitation for your loved one without having a viewing (an open casket with your loved one in repose). You may not want a viewing because you want people to remember your loved one as they were in a life or because you don’t want that to be your last memory of your loved one.

Those reasons are valid and your funeral director understands them and can arrange a visitation that doesn’t include a viewing.

One reason for having a visitation for your loved one is that it gives your friends and family members an opportunity to personally pay their respects and to offer you comfort and support. Even during COVID-19, funeral directors have found creative ways to make visitations possible.

Many funeral homes are offering drive-through visitations. With a drive-through visitation, you and your immediate family stand in front of the funeral home, and each car comes through one by one, with the car’s occupants rolling down the windows and offering you their condolences and expressions of sympathy.

This is a critical part of the funeral process, and, perhaps, even more, important now when there are so many public health restrictions that keep people apart and distanced from each other to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Some funeral homes are able to host smaller visitations inside their facilities, and a visitation for your loved one would give you an opportunity to pay tribute to your loved one’s life and shine a light on who they were as a person.

While close friends and family members may know your loved one very well, some of the people who attend the visitation may have known them only casually. Those people will be able to learn things about your loved one that they may not have known, and they will have a deeper understanding and respect of why your loved one meant so much to you.

Some of the things you can include as part of the visitation for your loved one are:

  • A tribute video – Tribute videos often include two or three of your loved one’s favorite songs and photos that highlight aspects of their life and their personality.
  • A memorial table – Memorial tables focus on some part of your loved one’s life that they were passionate about or that meant a lot to them. For example, your loved one may have been a music collector, so you can include photos of them at concerts and covers of some of their favorite albums.

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Visitations can also help you and your family grieve together and draw comfort and support from your friends and other family members. Sometimes families have disagreements and rifts that only death can mend. A visitation for your loved one can be the first step toward healing and reforming bonds that you and your family can share for the rest of your life.

Visitations have many benefits, so while you don’t have to have visitation for your loved one, it may be something that you want to consider in your funeral planning.

If you’d like to know more about funeral planning at funeral homes in College Park, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Remembering a Loved One During the Holiday Season

After cremation services in Adelphi, MD, you will grieve the loss of your loved one. With time, your grief will change from the intense sadness you feel right after your loved one dies, and your memories will be filled with comforting moments that wrap around you like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.

However, the holidays may disrupt all that warm comfort as you remember previous holidays when your loved one was still alive. The memories of the traditions you shared combined with the actual absence, whether it’s an empty chair at the table or an absent helper in preparations, can throw you back into intense grieving because your loved one is not there.

One of the things that you may find yourself thinking about your loved ones is that you are the only one missing them. You may watch family members and friends going about their normal routines and not even seeming to notice that your loved one isn’t there.

You may feel upset that it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone but you that your loved one has died and is no longer a part of holiday celebrations. While this may not be true, it doesn’t change how you feel.

So, it’s important for you to be able to find meaningful ways to remember your loved ones during the holiday season so that you can be assured in your own mind that they are not forgotten and they will never be forgotten.

One way that you can remember your loved one during the holiday season is to carry on one of their traditions. For example, your loved one may have been a great cook and there was one special dish they made every year only during the holiday season. Find their recipe for that special dish and adopt cooking or baking that dish your tradition as a tangible way to remember them.

Another way that you can remember your loved one during the holiday season is to donate your time or resources to something charitable that was special to them. Your loved one may have volunteered to deliver holiday meals to senior citizens or to families in need. Your loved one may have served meals on holidays to people in need at a church or a shelter.

If you don’t have a lot of time, try to donate a little time if you have it so you can honor your loved one by sharing the same experience they had. However, if it is not possible for you to donate your time, make sure you donate your resources to those causes.

Food banks, for example, are always in need of more food around the holiday season. Many times they will specifically ask for holiday meal items to be donated, so check to see what they need and provide for them as you are able. Some grocery stores will also donate meals to families during the holidays. All you need to do to participate is to make a donation by adding a set dollar amount to your checkout total.

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A final way that you can remember your loved one during the holiday season is to create something permanent in memory of them. You might plant a tree seedling inside that you can plant outdoors in your yard when the weather turns warm or you could have someone handcraft a memory chair or bench that you can put in your loved one’s favorite place.

If you want information about cremation services offered in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Being Grateful When Times are Rough

Planning funerals at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD is never easy. When you lose someone you love to death, the grief, the pain, the sorrow, and the sense of loss you feel can make this time feel rougher than almost any other time in your life.

It can be almost impossible to imagine life without your loved one. What will you do without them? How will you live without them as part of your life? Where – and how – do you go from here?

Although the death of your loved one is very hard and there will be dark days and moments now and in the future as you move through their loss into new and unchartered territory without them, there are many things along the way that you can be grateful for.

Being grateful is a choice to see the good things around you. Even when your loved one has died, there are many things about them and your relationship with them that you can be grateful for. Gratitude has an encouraging effect, and as you focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for, it can help you move more easily through the grieving process without getting bogged down in it.

It’s easier to be grateful when your life is running smoothly. It can be much harder to be grateful when it’s not. But, ironically, that is the time you need gratitude and appreciation the most. So, here are some things you should look for and focus on as you mourn the loss of your loved one and you start a new life that doesn’t have them in it.

One thing you should pay attention to is the acts of kindness that other people do for you. These don’t have to be big and grand gestures and they don’t always have to come from people you know. In fact, one of the mysteries of life can often be that we are more kind to strangers than we are to our friends and family.

Perhaps someone you don’t know holds the door open for you as you are walking into a building. Maybe somebody you don’t know smiles at you when you need it most. You might have an uplifting conversation with another person while you’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store or waiting to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy.

Those are acts of kindness that you should write down and keep as a remembrance of things you can be grateful for. Here’s an unexpected benefit of this: it will make you more conscious about practicing kindness toward people you don’t know. You will remember how these generous gestures made you feel and you will want to pass that experience on to others as you go through life.

Another thing you can do to promote gratefulness as a daily habit is to begin the day by listing several specific things you are grateful for. Include your loved one in this list. What things about them are you grateful for? What did they add to your life that you’re grateful for? What would you have never known without them that you are grateful for?

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Not only will this encourage you in your loss, but it will also help you to focus on good memories with your loved one that make you feel encouraged and comforted.

If you’d like to know about funeral planning at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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How to Honor Your Loved One’s Memory as Time Passes

With cremation services for a loved one in College Park, MD, you will deal with the grief that comes from losing someone who is dear to you and holds a special place in your heart. The initial stages of grief can be very painful and intense as you come to grips with the reality that your loved one is gone and all that means.

This period of the grieving process will be filled with a great sense of loss and finality that can be very difficult to walk through. When your loved one dies, you’ve lost them and all of your life, going forward that is associated with them. That’s a hard blow to cope with.

You’ve lost the plans, the hopes, the dreams of the future that the two of you shared. You’ve lost their companionship. You’ve lost their love, their support, their comfort, and all the ways they were able to be your safe haven when the storms of life rolled through.

One of the things, however, that you will never lose from your loved one who has died is your past with them when they were alive. You have all the memories of your time together to hold and to cherish for the rest of your life.

This gift may be hard to recognize in the early stages of grieving because you’re focused on what your loved one’s death means for the present and for the future. But, as time passes, grief changes, and the memories of the time you had together will start flowing in, offering a sense of comfort and relief for your pain.

You want to keep your loved one’s memory alive and never stop honoring it. But you may not know exactly how to do that in a way that is deep and meaningful. Here are some ideas.

One way that you can keep your loved one’s memory alive and continue to honor it is by supporting a cause or a charity that they believed in. Support doesn’t have to be just monetary. Support can also be expressed through volunteering your time for the cause or the charity.

Even if you aren’t as enthusiastic as your loved one was about the cause of charity, you can pay homage to your loved one’s memory by donating a little of your time or money to them regularly.

Another way that you can keep your loved one’s memory alive and you can honor them is to visit places that were special to them or special to you and them. These places could be as simple as a park that you and your loved one regularly walked through or a restaurant that was your favorite.

These places might also be far away destinations that you traveled to frequently. Maybe you went to a city like New Orleans or Seattle every year for a few days. While in New Orleans, you may have made it a point to stop at the iconic Preservation Hall to listen to local jazz musicians play. While in Seattle, you may have had Pike Place Market as one of your not-to-be-missed stops.

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Whatever and wherever those places were, go to them. Enjoy the present in honor of your loved one and savor the memories of your past with your loved one as they wash over you to strengthen and hold you.

If you want information about cremation services offered in College Park, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.

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Should You Have a Visitation?

When making funeral arrangements at funeral homes in College Park, MD, one of the things that will need to be decided is whether or to have a visitation. Many people have questions about what should and shouldn’t be done during visitations, so here are some answers that may help.

First, you should know that having a visitation for your loved one is optional. You and your family may decide that you just want to have a funeral service and/or a graveside service, and that is perfectly acceptable.

Traditionally, visitations are held just before the funeral service so that mourners can express their sympathy and support to the grieving family and so that they can pay their respects to the deceased.

Many times the visitation includes a viewing. Your loved one’s casket is opened so that the people attending the visitation can see them one last time and say their final farewells. However, you do not have to have a viewing with a visitation for your loved one.

In some cases, it may not be prudent to have a viewing for your loved one. If, for example, your loved one was in tragic accident in which they were severely injured, you would not want to have a viewing. As well, if your loved one died from a terminal illness that savagely ravaged their body, you would not want to have a viewing.

Whether you have a viewing with your loved one’s visitation is a personal decision that is entirely yours and your family’s to make. There is no right or wrong answer to whether you should have a viewing.

So, what can you do to honor your loved one during a visitation?

One thing you can do is to set up memory tables that have pictures of your loved one and personal things that were very special to them. For example, if your loved one had a favorite sports team and everyone who knew them knew about it, then you could set up a table that has pictures of them attending that team’s events or games and you can include team memorabilia from your loved one’s collection.

Another idea for a memory table could be to remember a loved one’s military service. Military veterans are often very proud of their service to the United States. For some military veterans, whether they served their entire career in the military or they did just one tour of duty, the military and their allegiance to the United States has a dominant place in their lives. Having a memory table reflecting that can help honor your loved one’s memory.

Another thing that you can do during a visitation is to play a tribute video that you or the funeral home creates. In your loved one’s tribute video, you can include a few of their favorite songs, favorite pictures of them, and quotes from books or poems that describe them or favorite sayings that your loved one was known for.

This tribute video can play and replay throughout the visitation.

Funeral homes have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, and they have found creative ways to do things such as viewings, which are usually held inside the funeral home. Many funeral homes have adopted the concept of drive by viewings.

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With a drive by viewing, you and your family stand at the funeral home entrance and people drive up, one car at a time, and roll down their car windows to offer you and your family their condolences and comfort.

If you’d like to know more about visitations at funeral homes in College Park, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A.