Dos and Do Nots of Writing an Obituary

Writing an obituary for a loved one is a great honor and it is something to take some time with. You want to let everyone know what has happened and when the services will take place. If you have never written an obituary before, you will want to know a few things that can help you write a beautiful one. Here are the dos and do nots of writing an obituary that directors of funeral homes in College Park, MD want you to keep in mind.

Do read examples of obituaries. This is something that many people forget to do and it can be important. Although every obituary will be different, reading examples will tell you about the length they should be, what to include, and even the tone. This can help you put together the kind of obituary that you want for your loved one.

Do not add too many details to the biographical section. Obituaries always have at least a paragraph about the person’s life. It is important to stick to the milestones of the person’s life without adding too many details because this can confuse people who are reading the obituary. This is an important thing to remember, and it can make a difference in what you write.

Do add a list of the people who survived the person. This is a customary addition to an obituary and it is always appropriate to add it to the one that you are writing. Keep in mind that a very common issue people have when doing this is forgetting to include people in the list. To avoid this, you can have someone in your family check to make certain everyone who needs to be included is.

Do not forget to have a few people read the obituary. You need to make certain that there are no errors before you send it out to be posted or printed. Have at least two people read through it for errors that you may have missed.

Do include all of the details on the services that you want to let people know about. This means adding the time, location, and any special requests that you may have for donations. Some people choose to have this information in bold print or in a larger font, and most people have it at the end of the obituary so that people can find it easily.

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These are some crucial dos and do nots that you want to consider when you start planning the obituary for a loved one. You always want to read examples of obituaries and you want to ensure that you know what to include. If you want to know more about doing writing obituaries, you can reach out to a College Park, MD funeral home like us at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. We are ready to help you with all of the decisions that you need to make after death. Give us a call right now.

Steps to Take After a Death

After learning of the death of a loved one, you may be feeling stressed and completely exhausted. This is also the time when you have to start making funerary arrangements, which is not easy for anyone to do. If you have never made these kinds of arrangements before, you will want to know the steps that you need to take to make this a bit easier. Here are the suggestions that providers of cremation services in Adelphi, MD want you to remember.

The first thing you have to do is get the death certificate. Without this certificate, you will not be able to start making the arrangements. Medical professionals can help you with this. You can turn to nurses, hospice workers, doctors, emergency medical technicians, and many others in the field to provide you with the death certificate. Because you will need to give copies to a lot of different providers, you will want to think about getting ten or fifteen copies.

After you get the death certificate, you will want to reach out to loved ones to let them know about the death. Start with those who were closest to the deceased and recruit them to help you by letting others know. This can allow you to start with the other arrangements, and it can also save you some of the stress of having to let people know that a loved one has died.

Once you have done that, you need to start thinking about the kind of funerary services that your loved one would have wanted. This is much easier if the person told you or if they left their wishes in writing, but if they did not, you will want to think about the options that are most suitable. You can also ask family members for their suggestions since that can help you narrow your choices down.

After you have chosen the kind of service they would have wanted, you want to consider the company you want to hire. This is not always an easy thing to do and it can take time. Check that the provider you are considering can offer the services you want and that they have the necessary experience. Ask lots of questions and compare rates to be sure of the choice you are making.


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By taking the time to consider all of the steps you need to take, you will be able to make the necessary arrangements for your loved one. You need to get the death certificate as soon as you can and you then need to start letting people know what has happened. Once you do that, you can start with the arrangements. If you want to begin making plans, you can reach out to an Adelphi, MD cremation service provider like us at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. Our team is here to help you decide on the right funerary services for your loved one. Stop by our location or give us a call right now to speak with an expert.

Top Tips for Finding the Right Funeral Home

Losing a loved one is something that can be harrowing. The last thing anyone wants to do when dealing with this kind of tragedy is make funerary arrangements, but it is necessary to do so. One of the most crucial things to remember is that you want to have the right provider helping you. This is not always an easy thing, considering how many options you have. To help you make the best choice, here are some tips to remember when choosing a funeral home in Adelphi, MD.

You need to find a company that has been in the industry for a long time. Funerary services are complex and they require experience. You do not want to have to worry about any mistakes that amateurs can make when putting together the arrangements. Most of the time, funeral homes have websites that you can check. Here they tend to put information on their history and training. Be sure to look at this or ask them directly if you still have questions.

You need to be sure they can offer the services you need. This is not always the case. If you are looking for options like bio cremation, which requires special facilities, this can mean that you need to find a provider that can offer it. A good way of doing this is to ask for a list of services as soon as you start speaking with the provider. This can make it easier for you to narrow choices down.

Always ask about the rates that the company charges. There are national guidelines in place to protect you from being overcharged, so you want to know what the average prices are. Then you can compare it to the company you are considering so that you can find the best prices.

Another thing you have to do is to visit the location. Many times, people do not think this is necessary to do, but it is actually something that can make a huge difference in the decision. You want to see if the location is clean and in order and you want to also speak with the person in charge to see if you feel comfortable working with them.

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All of these tips can help you find the best possible options for your loved one who has passed away. You want to ask lots of questions from the providers and you want to see if they can offer the exact services that you are looking for. Take the time to also visit the location to get a good sense of the quality of work they offer. If you want to learn more about this or if you want to get started making funerary arrangements, you can turn to an Adelphi, MD funeral home like us at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. We are here to help you find the exact options that you want for your loved one. You can give us a call right now or you can visit our location today.

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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.