Losing a Furry Friend

So last Friday (20 May), a week ago today, my family and I said goodbye and goodnight to our beautiful ginger cat Manea who was put down for health reasons. This cat had been in my life since I was 14 years old and to be honest, his death was just as sad as if I had lost a human family member. It was a hard day. 

The vet said we were giving him a gift. Letting him slip away peacefully without having to endure pain until the very end. That's not to say it was easy to make the decision to put him down.

For many of us, hopefully all of us that have animals, our pets are a part of the family. We create bonds with them, play with them, cuddle them when we've had a bad day. For me, animals are therapeutic in nature; able to cheer you up on the cloudiest of days. My cat Manea was the apple to my eye and his death has left a huge hole in our family.

Have you ever lost a furry friend? If so, feel free to comment below this post. 

Love and Light 

Tehani xx

Why we need 'Bereaved Mother's Day'

I love this touching article by Women's Weekly Online about the fragility and often sensitive time for bereaved Mother's who have lost a child or have struggled to conceive. Losing a child would have to be up there with one of the most, if not the most, difficult thing a mother and parent would ever have to go through and annual celebration days such as Mother's and Father's Day can be a very difficult time for some parents. Read the full article by clicking the title to this post.



Keeping in touch with our elderly loved ones

I recently read an article about an elderly man who was found in his apartment, two months after he had passed away. It was a sombre reminder of the need to keep in touch with our elderly family and friends.

After reading the comments from others on this article, it saddens me to think of someone having no family, friends or significant other by their side through life and death. I know that many people choose to live very private lives and I shouldn’t be quick to think this person was in any way depressed or lived a lonely existence. However, I know that there are many elderly that do suffer with loneliness. Chief executive of elderly care organisation Age Care, Ann Martin, says that over 400,000 elderly suffer from social isolation. Those are staggering figures and with today’s societies’ fast paced lifestyle and emphasis on privacy and individual, rather than community issues, it is no wonder our elderly are suffering quietly alone. 

So what can we do to change this sad sad trend? One idea. Pick up the phone! Ring your elderly loved one and ask how they are-visit them-reassure them that they have an important place in your busy life. Get to know your neighbours! It’s hard when you have your own life, family, job to go to everyday but I know, a simple phone call or visit every now and then can be the highlight to those who’s days can be very long and lonesome. 

Let’s look after our elderly. After all, they won’t be here forever. 



Burials VS Cremations

Whether we like or not, at some point in our lives we need to broach the topic (whether with ourselves, family or friends, or drafted in a Will) of death and what we would like to happen when our inevitable time comes. Some will know exactly what they would like included at their own funeral service and for whom their possessions will go to. Some may not. An aspect that comes up a lot with people i’ve conversed with though is whether i’d like to be buried or cremated when I finally (cliché alert!) kick the bucket. And for some, this can be a cause for tension between family members if a loved one hasn’t specified what they wanted done. So let’s talk about it now. 

What happens to your body once you’ve died is a very personal decision. Although my focus in this blog post is burial vs cremation, these are not, by all means, the only options available to us. My grandfather on my father’s side for example, decided to donate his body to science; a selfless act, enabling aspiring scientists and doctors alike, to learn skills pertinent to the advancement of science and medicine. Here in New Zealand, this is a very dignified process with many student scientists and doctors conducting their own ‘memorial services’ for the cadaver at the end of their study tenure. For some students, this is an emotional and poignant event.

There is also the option of being buried at sea. A process that requires (at least here in NZ) permission from local councillors, you or loved one to be buried at only certain coastal areas (so your favourite beach might be out), and to have a specially made, weighted casket for a graceful decent to the sea floor slash preventing you floating back to the land of the living. 

Before I continue I should probably mention that I write from the perspective of mainly Western traditions that i’ve observed here in New Zealand, but I may also draw from Maaori and Pacific traditions from which I am familiar with. Of course other cultures may have their own customs surrounding the finality of one’s remains and should be taken into account when reading this post. If you know of different traditions surrounding this topic, please comment on this post as I would love to know. 

That being said, what of the two most common options: Burial or Cremation? 

The number of people choosing cremation over burial is growing for a number of reasons. The more obvious reason is cost. Families can expect to pay around $5000 to $10,000 on a burial which doesn’t include the cost to buy a plot. These costs go toward pre-burial expenses such as embalmment, the coffin and travel expenses. On the other hand, you could expect to pay around $1000 to $6000 for a cremation. A fraction of the cost of a burial and the added bonus, you can have your ashes spread pretty much anywhere (within reason of course!). On top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean anyone? Just ensure the wind is blowing opposite to your face eeekkkk.

In some cultures, burials are the only option. In the Cook Islands for example, all Cook Islanders are buried. This is not so much, I believe, because there’s no crematorium on the island, but rather deeply engrained customs surrounding burials. They are also almost always buried on family land and their graves, regularly attended too and respected. This I feel may pose problems in the future for those tiny islands as population increases and more land is used for burials. In Māori culture, although they have the option of cremation, like Cook Islands culture, Māori have their own particular traditions relating to burials (‘nehua’) which are an inherent part of the grieving process (if not one of the most important!). Cremations are therefore uncommon and at times, frowned upon. 

Whether you’re wanting to buried or cremated, there are a number of factors that can influence your decision making. Whether it be financial, cultural or whatever’s easiest, the decision to be buried or cremated when your time comes is an integral aspect of the mourning process, for you and your family and shouldn’t be taken lightly. For me, I’d like to be cremated, put in a nice eco-friendly bio-degrable box and buried on my family land in Rarotonga with a gardenia bush planted on top. What about you?

What is a funeral program and why having a well-designed funeral program for your loved one matters

You may or may not have thought much about it or why it's so important, but the funeral program, also known as a memorial program, memorial card, funeral service sheet, order of service sheet and remembrance booklet among others, is the little pamphlet or booklet friends and family receive at the beginning of a funeral service. The funeral program will usually have a photo/s of the loved one that has passed on the front, inside or back covers, with their birth date and date of passing, and the 'order of service' for the day of the funeral. It can include lyrics to a loved one's favorite song, a hymn that will be sung on the day, or perhaps a poem, reading or photo collage. The options are endless and completely up to the family.  To me, the funeral program is probably one of the most important, yet neglected (in terms of quality design), aspects of the funeral service.

So why does having a well-designed funeral service sheet for your loved one matter? 

It's simple really. Besides being a reference guide for the events of the day of a funeral, a funeral service sheet more importantly, is a lasting keepsake for friends and family. It is something we hold on to and cherish; sometimes displaying for days, weeks, even months on the mantle piece as a remembrance of our lost loved ones. It's not something we throw away easily, if ever. 

Just as photos evoke special memories in our minds, remembrance sheets take us back to a period in our lives where we reminisce these special people that are no longer with us. Sometimes they are poignant memories and other times, they are joyful memories of a time when family and friends came together to celebrate life through tears, laughter and story telling.

Just as importantly, a memorial booklet provides us with the synopsis of our loved one's life. From birth to death and everything in between. Now and then family and friends find out things they never knew about their loved one through the obituary, photographs, or perhaps the inclusion of their favourite song or poem. A thoughtfully designed funeral program therefore has the ability to capture the personality of those loved one's through careful application of design elements such as, colour theme, font choice, layout and imagery. The quality of card used to print the funeral program on also has an important role in enhancing the quality and 'feel' of the program, as well as, providing longevity, durability and the ability for the memorial card to stand on it's own. That being so, a well-designed funeral program is something that can stand the test of time, kept by friends and family, proudly displayed or carefully tucked away in a treasure box to be admired in years to come as a homage to our loved one's. 

Hi...welcome to our blog

Welcome to our blog for Forever Yours. This blog will be the place for exploring and fleshing out what we do, sharing ideas, design inspo, random ramblings and all those taboo/kinda scary stuff about death you don't really talk about but really want to know. 

Death is sometimes an awkward and touchy subject to talk about, but I hope to break down some of these barriers and answer any questions you may have. Whether it be about great funeral program design, to different cultural customs around death. Let's share our experiences, the good, the bad, the ugly and the humorous. It's personal, yes, but it is also something we all go through at some point in our lives so let's converse and get comfortable with talking about it.

Our blog will be relevant for anyone who is organizing a funeral, working within the funeral/death care industry (i.e. funeral directors and funeral homes), as well as, graphic designers and those generally curious about what we or the funeral industry do. We hope to answer a lot of your musings so subscribe to our newsletter to receive our blog straight to your inbox. 

Love and light xx


Owner I Creative Director