Hospice care is peace of mind

By Tammy Dermody

In our decades of experience helping people make arrangements for the final stages of life for a loved one, we often hear a common misperception.

Many of our guests — some of whom are supporting family members in potentially life-limiting conditions — hear the word “hospice” and think it’s a place. Many times they think of it like a hospital, but for people toward the end of their lives.

But hospice is not usually a physical place; instead, hospice is peace of mind.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative dreamstime_m_50714737Care Organization, the following are the primary services of hospice:

  • Manage the patient’s pain and symptoms;
  • Assist the patient with the emotional and psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying;
  • Provide needed drugs, medical supplies, and equipment;
  • Coach the family on how to care for the patient;
  • Deliver special services like speech and physical therapy when needed;
  • Make short-term inpatient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time; and
  • Provide bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends.

So hospice is help — physical, emotional and spiritual, if desired. Hospice of course assists those nearing the ends of their lives, but it also supports family members through comfort, counseling and more.

The hospice team works with the family to make the patient comfortable, helping to relieve their symptoms and pain for the entire length of their illness. This sometimes happens in a facility, but typically the preferred choice is in a patient’s home where they feel most comfortable and happiest. Most hospice providers are on call around the clock.

If you’ve been referred to a hospice provider for a loved one, we know it’s a difficult realization; but please know that the goal of hospice care is to ease a patient’s burdens and encourage communication and comfort. It provides support and comfort your family member needs to live a fuller, more meaningful life, even in the wake of a life-threatening illness.

The Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive list of the team members typically involved in hospice care, which can include the following:

  • A primary care doctor and a hospice doctor or medical director will oversee your or your loved one’s care.
  • Nurses will come to your or your loved one’s home or other setting to provide care. Nurses are also responsible for coordination of the hospice care team.
  • Home health aides. Home health aides can provide extra support for routine care, such as dressing, bathing and eating.
  • Spiritual counselors. Chaplains, priests, lay ministers or other spiritual counselors can provide spiritual care and guidance for the entire family.
  • Social workers. Social workers provide counseling and support. They can also provide referrals to other support systems.
  • Pharmacists provide medication oversight and suggestions regarding the most effective ways to relieve symptoms.
  • Trained hospice volunteers offer a variety of services depending on your needs, from providing company or respite for caregivers to helping with transportation or other practical needs.
  • Other professionals. Speech, physical and occupational therapists can provide therapy, if needed.
  • Bereavement counselors. Trained bereavement counselors offer support and guidance after the death of a loved one in hospice

We at Walton’s have profound respect for hospice providers who choose to devote their time and energy to this important and challenging time in a person’s life. And we work closely with hospice providers in our area to help their patients — and their families — through these difficult times.

For a list of those providers, please click here.

And benefit from the peace of mind afforded by hospice care to those facing the end of their lives — and to you.


3 Reasons Why People Plan Ahead for Funeral Wishes


Most people know that it’s important to plan ahead for retirement, weddings, education expenses, and purchasing a home…but not many people think about planning ahead for a funeral. For every other milestone in life, we will have the support of our closest loved ones every step of the way. But funerals are different. Unless a funeral is planned in advance, we must face the difficult task of making arrangements without the help of the one who has died, all while experiencing intense pain and grief. Creating a funeral plan is a simple process. 

People choose to plan ahead for funeral wishes for a variety of reasons. You may wish to protect your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions alone, or you may want to help your family save money. Some people have specific preferences that they wish to document, such as having a green, eco-friendly burial, making an anatomical donation, or having a big party where loved ones can celebrate the life that has been lived.

Below are the three main reasons people choose to plan ahead for final wishes:

  1. Family is the number one reason people plan funerals in advance. Without a plan, loved ones are left in the dark, having to make difficult decisions at an emotionally painful time. When you plan ahead, be sure to make your preferences clear about whether you want cremation or burial, and how you want your life to be celebrated.
  2. Savings is the second reason. A plan reduces “emotional overspending” that often occurs when families are under stress. A simple yet thoughtful plan can save loved ones hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  3. No one knows what the future holds. But we do know one thing: none of us are promised tomorrow. The future may be uncertain, but we can do something today that will make a difference in the lives of our loved ones.

Planning ahead is easy, and it’s free. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation appointment with a professional funeral planning specialist.

Reprinted with permission from Passare.com.

How personal rituals can help alleviate grief


The car was washed once a week when he was alive. Now that he was gone, his wife continued the tradition, even though she didn’t drive the car herself. Another bereaved spouse whose wife had passed away years before remembered her by continuing to go to the hairdresser’s on the first Saturday of every month, just as they had done together throughout their marriage.

Private and Public Rituals

These private rituals were among several discussed in a study conducted by the Harvard Business School and covered in an article by The Atlantic which examined the effects of personal rituals on grief. The study found that personal rituals were an instrumental part of grief recovery.

Public rituals help mourners by gathering family and friends together to offer their comfort and support and to help them transition back into the social world. But private rituals, which the study found to be most helpful, do not help reconnect the bereaved with others in their social group. Instead, they are most often performed alone. For example, one daughter who lost her mother said that when she missed her mother, she listened to one of her mother’s favorite songs.

The study discovered that those who performed personal rituals following a loss recovered much more quickly and reported feeling less despair and pain after the ritual. Why? The researchers found that rituals helped people overcome grief by giving people a greater sense of control when they felt particularly powerless and out of control. When a loss occurs, there is nothing that the bereaved can do. They cannot bring their loved one back. Their world is plunged into chaos and disorder. Nothing is as it was. But a ritual is like a lifeline.

The study found that after performing a ritual, mourners were much less likely to report feeling “helpless,” “powerless,” or “out of control.”

Rituals that Heal

The type of rituals performed by those who experienced a loss varied greatly. They could be a meaningful one-time event or a frequent weekly or daily observance. Below are some ideas for creating a personal ritual that heals:

  • Continue a tradition you had with your loved one, and take the time to reflect on what you loved most about the person
  • Take up a new hobby or pastime that you would have enjoyed doing with your loved one
  • Do something you had always talked about with your loved one, but never had the chance to do before
  • Volunteer or raise money for a nonprofit that helped your loved one or that he or she would have admired
  • Visit your loved one’s graveside or place of rest and talk about how you feel
  • Write a letter to your loved one
  • Listen to music he or she loved
  • Create a work of art in honor of the person who died

For anyone whose world has been turned upside down by grief, the value of a personal ritual lies in its ability to create a way to remember a lost loved one and gain a renewed sense of control and purpose in the midst of grief. Have you ever taken up a personal ritual to help you cope with grief? Please share and comment below!

Reprinted with permission from Passare.com

Social media and the modern funeral: Is there a place for selfies at a celebration of life?

Tammy Dermody

Tammy Dermody

Some might say social media has taken over just about every realm. These days, we seem to share everything immediately via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or any other outlet du jour.

And of course, 2015 is the year of the picture: You can’t visit any social media outlet without seeing selfies, pictures at the beach, on the golf course or pictures snapped at Grandma’s funeral.

Yes, you read that right: Grandma’s funeral.

Social media has entered the territory of end-of-life celebrations, as selfies and pictures are snapped abundantly even at these sometimes solemn occasions.

Depending on the family and the experience, social media can be used as a tool to enhance a family’s funeral experience. Facebook has become a convenient and powerful way for friends to learn about a death within a friend’s family. It helps prevent those in our social circles from missing out on important information such as a death or serious illness.

A few uses for social media at the modern funeral:

  • People may “check in” to the funeral home online. This is a way for families to memorialize their day online, alerting friends and family to the occasion in a subtle but telling way.
  • A social memorial page is another great way to remember and celebrate a life socially. A social website is a wonderful tool to share memories of loved ones and begin the healing process. A social website lists all the details of the service and tells the story of your loved one.
  • Hashtags can be a useful tool for people who are coming together for an event, a belief or a funeral. By sharing your thoughts with others using a hashtag, such as #remberinggrammiejones, these memories can be easily accessed by searching for the hashtag during or after the event.

Funerals are an ideal event for creating unique hashtags for sharing personal stories and celebrating a life. Your family can create a hashtag that they use throughout the funeral service and for months afterward. You could encourage family and friends to share their favorite memory or story of the deceased, for example, encouraging use of the hashtag. People at the funeral will be able to follow along, and it encourages everyone to become an important part of remembering a life.

  • Some people use social media as a tool after the funeral in the form of blogs. Many are able to work through feelings of grief and struggle by writing about their experience, finding deeper healing through reader comments and shared experience.
  • If you do not want social media to be a tool used at your celebration of life, communicate this idea to those in attendance. Walker Posey, a funeral director in South Carolina and a spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association, includes this etiquette suggestion on his funeral home’s website: “Don’t infringe on the family’s right to privacy. In today’s world of social media and technology, it is essential to remember that these tools are a way of showing support and care for the family who is experiencing grief. The use of technology and social media to post anything which may violate the family’s right to privacy or ability to properly grieve must be avoided.”

You may want to consider adding a brief statement about your family’s social media request in the funeral program, or even spread the word among family/friends in advance of the service.

Ultimately, social media is about communication and storytelling. At Walton’s, we believe every life has a story – for some families, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can help those left behind to further tell the story of someone they loved and to celebrate a life. For others, it’s not appropriate. We’ll work with you to honor your family’s wishes.


In 1986, Tammy Dermody used her education and joined the family business to help her father, Ed McCaffery grow Walton’s Funerals and Cremations into what it is today. A Reno native and Bishop Manogue graduate, Tammy left Reno only to attend Santa Clara University and then promptly came back. A mom first and a businesswoman second, Tammy has carried on her father’s unwavering support for education in Northern Nevada by volunteering weekly at Bishop Manogue High School. Tammy also provides scholarships to Bishop Manogue High School every year. Tammy shares her father’s passion for community involvement outside of the classroom. She sits on the advisory board of  CASA and The Solace Tree, a local organization that helps children and teens deal with grief; as well as the  boards for The Children’s Cabinet, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada and Casa de Vida.