For many, pre-planning your funeral needs is about the worst task imaginable.  No matter how gloomy it may be, it should be done to relieve stress upon the family during one of the hardest times imaginable.  There are several reasons a person should pre-plan their funeral needs especially if they are approaching retirement. 

First, it is a definite way to ensure whether you are cremated or buried.  A lot of people wish to be buried among a family cemetery or have a ‘green’ cremation.  By taking care of those plans prior to your death, you ensure your wishes are ensued. Secondly, it takes a lot of stress away from a family who has just endured a tragic loss.  I make this comment based both as a professional and upon personal experience.  As a daughter, I was so glad my father had taken care of everything prior to his passing and pre-paid for all plans. As if the process of sitting with the funeral director is not hard enough, it simply made the time spent answering those types of questions go quicker. Additionally, as a professional, I have not heard one complaint from a child or spouse if the deceased pre-planned their funeral arrangements.  Rather, the child and/or spouse felt relieved to know their loved one received exactly what they wanted. Third, pre-planning avoids causing a financial strain upon the family.  A lot of my clients wish to be buried but have not set aside sufficient funds to pay for the burial which can easily cost in excess of $10,000.  If children or relatives do not have the funds to properly bury someone, then burial may not be an option.  Fourth, if you become sickly, so that your medical bills become astronomical, and are required to apply for Medicaid, burial space of up to $1,500 cannot disqualify you for Medicaid.  Also, an irrevocable prearranged funeral contract will also not disqualify you from receiving Medicaid.  However, please ensure the funeral home is familiar with issuing such contracts as Medicaid can become complicated. 

Lastly, it completes the estate plan.  A thorough estate plan will provide you with Powers of Attorney, a Living Will and a Last Will & Testament or Trust.  A discussion of how to title assets and what future steps may be necessary to remove certain assets or retitle assets is also appropriate.  Equally important is a discussion about pre-payment of funeral planning.  So simply asked: Have you made plans yet or will your spouse and/or child?

Misty Piekaar


There are maybe five feral kittens in my garage. 

     I say “maybe” because there is no way to know where they are. The garage is full of stuff.  Under a shelf unit?  Tucked behind my boyfriend’s tools?  Hidden under a space below the sub floor?

     The mother took them there on day three of their lives. This was somewhat unusual, but understandable.

She had them right on our back deck and now that the weather is nicer, we’re in and out all the time. That probably worried her.

     Since these feline fur balls are nowhere to be found, we have no idea if they are alive or not.  In my opinion, the mother has been a little inattentive. But hey, who wouldn’t want a break after having five babies?  Still, we’re worried. We wonder “Are they dead or alive?”

     I told my boyfriend that we would just have to trust the mamma cat and Mother Nature to know what to do.  That this cycle of life was theirs to negotiate. After all, even baby birds fall out of the nest and die.

     So we know of these laws in the animal world. Yet, what is it with us humans that we sometimes doubt that life, and death, are unfolding as they should?  Why can’t we let go with gratitude and joy?

     I encourage you to spend some time quietly reflecting on what you have in your life now that needs to be let go.  Could it be an old belief or a relationship that no longer serves you?  Might it be that dress that fit perfectly six years ago but has gotten a little snug?  Let it go.

     Practice letting go now and then join me later on May 22 for International Letting Go day, a virtual event.  For now, just take a deep breath and know that, like the kittens and the birds, life is unfolding as it should… and that all is well.

Ann Leach is the owner of Life Preservers Grief Support. She lives in Joplin, Mo. and works with clients from around the country who are coping with their own life-altering events. http://lifepreserversgriefsupport.com/



I was lying on a mat at the gym. My trainer was stretching me into positions that I never knew were possible.  In an instant I was introduced to muscles I had never met in this middle aged body and THAT had me thinking of death.


It’s not the first time I thought I’d die.  Just 22 months ago I literally stared death in the face as a terrifying EF 5 tornado roared through my Joplin, Missouri neighborhood.  I lost my home. I lost my stuff. I lost my favorite landmarks. Fortunately, I still had my soul.


What little housing was spared by the tornado was scooped up by others seeking the same. Desperation prevailed. Hoards of people poured over housing listings and barraged realtors with requests for the next right spot. They took over every available hotel room, waiting for a more permanent home….just as I was. 


I was technically homeless. I also had a blank slate. That had me giving serious thought to what I wanted my next living space to look like.   After having spent 15 years in my now lost abode, I quickly realized I was moving into a new chapter of life.


And isn’t that like the literal death experience?  We spend so many years in this ‘house’ we call the physical body and then we move on to the next chapter as the soul is released.  But what will hold the memories?  What next vessel can contain the story of a life lived with passion, gratitude and love?


I discovered the work of Fine Art Urns and thought “how cool to have a piece of original art to house the memories of someone dear.” I just knew I had to work with Ron and Elizabeth to share these gifts with the world.  And so I’ll be offering my thoughts on remembering and honoring the memories of those departed.  I hope you’ll find them helpful.  


Ann Leach is the owner of Life Preservers Grief Support and continues to live in Joplin, Mo. She works with clients from around the country who are coping with their own life-altering events.


 For years, there have been raging debates about art. What defines it? What is art? What is NOT art? Is art important?  Is art relevant? Is it significant?  Even Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary devotes nearly a quarter of a page in its attempt to define art. ART!!!

Why do we respond so strongly to art?

I have found that few people are indifferent to art. It seems to be part of the human condition that things created and crafted by human hands stir a response and a reaction in other human beings. The newspapers are littered with reports of public reaction to art expositions, installations and shows. Artists fall in and then out of favor with the public, sometimes years after their deaths, sometimes in the reverse order.  An example:  I recently went to the exhibit of Van Gogh  paintings at the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. I had to get the tickets in advance and wait in line to get a glimpse of the works, for there were throngs of people. I wondered what Van Gogh would have thought- to see his work so popular now when he suffered so much when he was alive (1853-1890).          ( This was immortalized in the popular Don McLean song "Starry, Starry Night"/  "Vincent")    Even so, listening to people's commentary was instructive. 'Love it!" , "Too gloomy." , "Colors are too dark.", "Oh, I would love to be in that place.", "How sad." , "Gorgeous!".  Emotional reactions registered on viewer's faces and in their eyes. 

 No one is immune to the effect of art.  No one is untouched by art. No one. 

 Why art? 

 Art makes us feel.

When words fail, art communicates. Art is a shared experience.                                         Art that moves you is timeless.

Why a Fine Art Urn?

It comforts us. It reminds us. It connects us. It resonates with us.  It touches us. It HEALS us.

Learn more about "Vincent"  http://www.don-mclean.com/vincent.asp


Recent Blog Posts