Blessing of the Animals in Portsmouth, NH

Pet funeral trendsFor many of us, companion animals are an integral part of the family; we take them on vacations, care for their every need and, in turn, they share their boundless affection and comfort with us. So it is not surprising that some people may want to keep their beloved companion close even after they pass, or keep them spiritually safe when they are living. Continue reading

All Hallow’s Eve: A Time to Remember Our Loved Ones

All Hallow's Eve

Each fall, Halloween starts off the holiday season with season favorites such as jack-o-lanterns, candy apples and trick-or-treating. Although it’s inevitably one of the most fun and colorful holidays, Halloween has a deeper, more meaningful history than its bright and glossy image may suggest. In fact, it is a unique blend of Celtic and Christian beliefs, one that celebrates the remembrance of loved ones who have passed and touches on our ever-present wondering about the afterlife. Continue reading

Is Immortality Our Goal?



Humanity has always been intrigued by the possibility of eternal life. From explorers searching for the Fountain of Youth to Silicon Valley spending millions on genome research, aimed at extending life, we have never given up the dream of living forever. But is this really what we want? Is immortality the end-result of a fully evolved human race? Continue reading

5 Reasons Cremations Are on the Rise


Cremation UrnsThis year, cremation has surpassed burial by roughly three percent in the United States. Currently 48% of Americans are being cremated, with estimates predicting that that number will rise to 70% by 2030. That signals a huge cultural shift an is reflective of the social norms that abound today. If you are wondering why the numbers have increased so dramatically, here are some reasons:

1. Cost

Cremation is undoubtedly cheaper; it is estimated that cremation will cost a third of the price of a burial. End of life costs are notoriously and rightfully a huge concern for families and individuals and cremation offers to lesson this stressor. Many individuals are even opting to make the decision to be cremated as part of their end of life planning, easing any unnecessary guilt their loved ones may feel for choosing the less costly option.

2. Grave site Maintenance

Not only is burial more expensive, there is also the consideration of grave site maintenance. For many, this is a substantial commitment, especially if the burial site is not or will not be near to their place of living. Cremation allows for more flexibility and addresses these concerns entirely.

3. More Acceptance from Faith

For some Americans, cremation was not an option due to the restrictions placed by their religious authorities. While this is still the case for some, in many cases the restrictions have been lifted, allowing for more end of life options. Furthermore, many more Americans have moved away from strict religious affiliation and are much more amenable to the idea of cremation.

4. Environmental Concerns

Although not all cremations are environmentally safe, it is certainly a more sustainable option than burial. Many people are not supportive of placing harmful chemicals, associated with embalming, into the earth and cremation assures that this will be avoided.

5. Flexibility and Personalization

Cremains can be scattered in various ways and in various places, they can also be taken along when a family relocates. There is also the option of creative disposals, including creating jewelry and art, or carrying on a legacy of environmentalism through being infused into coral reefs or grown into trees. The possibilities are various and many are much more likely to be in keeping with individual preferences and personalities.

Whether cremation is something that you have considered before or it is an entirely new thought, there is no denying that many more Americans are finding what they are looking for in this flexible and customizable option.

Social Media In the Grieving Process

Social Media and Grief

Most of us are all too used to complaining about social media. Even in the realm of death and dying, social media can cause trouble. But it can also be surprisingly healing, surprisingly helpful in a time of grief.

Going from “I” to “We”

Social media posts are essentially one big selfie—we post pictures of ourselves, share media that underscores our opinions and generally focus on what’s going on with us. When a death occurs, however, and someone happens to share that, that person’s entire network shifts focus, offering words and “likes” of support. Some may say this is a superficial way to show affection and comfort, but it is this very superficiality of the medium that allows deeper messages to be shared. People who normally would not find the words to speak are braver on Facebook; in the world of social media, barriers can be lowered more easily.

If nothing else, it is heartening to see that we can turn off our stream of self-examination in order to offer condolences, share words of wisdom and experience.

Eliminating Taboo Around Death

Although we have come a long way, there is still discomfort around death that sometimes prevents the topic from arising. As more and more conversations about grief and dying are cropping up on social media, that discomfort is slowly but surely dissipating. If these discussions can reach the entirely informal medium of Facebook or Twitter, then they are surely becoming more mainstream.

Getting rid of the taboo around death is a healthy pursuit and it is one we in the funeral services industry come across often. There is no getting around it, death will come and the more prepared you the better for everyone involved. If it takes Facebook to reach that goal, then so be it.

Web Memorials

It has become common practice for people to create Facebook memorial pages for a loved one who has passed away or, alternately, keeping an existing Facebook page as the memorial. This is yet another way in which social media is helping instead of harming; these memorials are often an excellent way to share your remembrance with others and connect with family and friends around a common grief.

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Although some of the social norms around death and dying are still being defined on the web, it seems that some things remain the same no matter the medium—grieving brings people together, helps to heal and reconnect.

Can You Trust Your Funeral Home? 5 Ways to Make Sure You Are Making a Good Choice

Tour the funeral home

If you are going through the difficult and heart-wrenching process of burying a loved one, the trustworthiness of a funeral home is probably not at the top of your list of concerns. Most funeral homes treat their customers with the respect and sensitivity that you would expect, however it is not always clear what may be going on behind closed doors.

In a shocking reveal, newly hired funeral home employee in Panama City, Florida found several decomposing bodies, improperly stored and mishandled in the funeral home’s storage area. Although it is nothing short of atrocious that something like this could happen, it is essential to be on the lookout for red flags. Here are a few ways to protect yourself when making this important decision:

1. Take a Tour of the Facility

This is especially true if you notice that the front of the house is not well maintained. In many cases, a funeral home will not only be happy to show you around, they will make a tour part of your consultation. Being wary of showing the facility is a sign that something may be amiss.

2. Find Reviews

Nowadays, it is easy to find reviews on just about every business; funeral homes are no exception. Take a look at the funeral home’s listing on Yelp or Facebook, or if you prefer an even more credible source, talk to others who may have been customers there. In most cases, if there is something to be concerned about, it will be flagged in reviews.

3. Consult the Better Business Bureau

The BBB is an excellent source of historical information about any complaints or issues that a business may have experienced. If there is any evidence of wrongdoing or if, on the other hand, a funeral home is doing a great job, you will be able to find out through the Better Business Bureau.

4. Check Out the Website

This may be something that you have already done, but reviewing a funeral home’s website could be a great way to find out how professional and reliable they are—is the website up-to-date? Is there credible information readily available? All of these can give you cues on whether or not a particular funeral home is a good choice for you.

5. How Long Have They Been in Business?

While it would be unfair to say that newer funeral homes are not providing good services, the length of time one has been in business is a legitimate way to gauge trust. Most reputable funeral homes have been operating for decades and have a strong, recognizable presence in their communities. If you find a newer funeral home, no need to automatically discount it, but you might want to look even closer at their website, their facility and their reviews.

A bit of research can go a long way in ensuring that you are dealing with an honest, respectable funeral home.

Phaneuf Named Top Family Business!


Although our primary purpose on this blog is to provide resources and advice for our readers, today we wanted to share something of which we are very proud: we have been recognized as one of Business NH Magazine’s Top Family Businesses! We are the 14th oldest family business and among the longest-held family businesses in the state. Additionally, our company growth puts us among the top quarter of fastest-growing family businesses in the state, 36th of the 157 family businesses listed this year. We are enormously proud of our success and longevity in New Hampshire.

The reason this news is so important for us to share is because we never would have made it this far without the loyalty and support of our community and, by extension, our clients.

Keeping it in the Family

When the Phaneuf family first opened its doors in 1906, our primary goal was to serve the growing population in the area. Over the course of four generations and 110 years, we have grown quite a bit, but our mission has never changed. We still seek to provide the highest quality of service on all levels, still keep the needs of our clients front and center and we continue to evolve to meet varying needs, as they arise. In fact, being a fourth-generation family-owned business, gives us a rare clarity of purpose that dates back to our founder, Jean-Baptiste Phaneuf. We know exactly what we are about, and that is you, our clients.

What’s more, we are truly a family business. Phaneuf is not just a name to be used in our logo, nor is our family just a figurehead—we are actively involved in every step of the process. Multiple members of our family are fully immersed in the trade in a variety of capacities. We are also community-oriented and have always sought to immerse ourselves in community initiatives—providing charitable funding, hosting beneficial events and sharing free resources.

So what does this mean for you?

We understand that choosing a funeral provider is a difficult and sometimes overwhelming process; you may be grieving or particularly vulnerable after the death of a loved one or dealing with a terminal illness. We want you to be sure that when you choose Phaneuf, you are choosing a trusted business that seeks to offer you all the support and advice that you may need. With more than a century of experience, you can be sure that we will do everything that we can to lift some of the burden off your shoulders.

It is an honor to be on this list because it reinforces our values and our goals. It is heartening to know that doing what we love and doing it well has proven to be what it takes to propel us into the future. Still growing, still expanding, we are also always conscious of the needs of our clients. We will continue to provide you with excellent services, advice and resources and we intend to keep our family legacy alive and well for generations to come.

A Changing Landscape: Funeral Homes in the 21st Century

Phaneuf has many options for today's funerals

Death is a given, yet many funeral homes are seeing a notable decline in business. Of course, lower death rates are hardly cause to lament, yet it is interesting to observe how an industry that has stayed essentially the same for decades is now tasked with the need for a significant evolution.  As culture shifts become ever more apparent, customers become more savvy in their end-of-life choices and religion becomes less of a concern, funeral homes must adjust to a new generation and, perhaps, a new business model. Continue reading

Three Ways Death Can Inspire You


Death is never a happy thought; we fear our mortality as we do that of those we love, yet death is an inevitability that none of us can escape. In recent years, there has been a movement to re-frame death in our minds — to make it less of a taboo and more of an undeniable fact to ponder and explore. While we may fear or dread death, one thing is clear—our lives, relationships and existence have more meaning because they are not infinite, because we will one day perish. When framed this way, death can be a source of inspiration.

1. We are All Alike

In a time when racial tensions plague our country and hate brings about terrible acts of terror, it is vitally important to remember that we are all the same. Our humanity binds us beyond all else. Our mortality unites us irrevocably. Before you pass judgment on your neighbor or someone whose culture or religion you disagree with, consider this very pertinent fact. We are more alike than we are different and you would do better to explore that commonality than to embrace the differences.

2. We Can Use Some Perspective

It’s easy to get hung up on the little things. Did everyone see when you got that piece of toilet paper stuck to your leg? Does your boss hate you? Did you make the right decision leaving that job? We are plagued by similar thoughts day in and day out, yet in the larger scheme of things they all pale in comparison to the big picture: your family, your friends, your spouse. Since we do not have an infinite amount of time to enjoy the pleasures and poignancy of life, let’s make more of a point to do so on a daily basis.

3. We Need a Push

All of us have put aside a big decision, avoided taking a chance thinking that we will have time to do so later—yet “later” will come sooner than you think and you may just miss it. Harkening back to the idea that the little things will fade away while the large ones may just shape your life, consider taking those chances, forgetting to be embarrassed or scared. Looking back on your life, you will likely not regret being brave, but surely you will regret only giving in to your fears.

Thinking about your own mortality does not have to be negative, in fact there is a lot of positivity and motivation that can be gleaned from doing so. Reflection is a close friend of productivity and a life well-lived.