Archive for the ‘Memorials’ Category

Meet Celebrant, Carrie Smith

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Celebrant, Carrie Smith

Meet the newest addition to our staff, Carrie Smith. Carrie is a licensed social worker, grief counselor and Celebrant. Many are unfamiliar with the term Celebrant and what exactly it entails. Read Carrie’s story below to find out what exactly a Celebrant is and what they do.

Q: Would you like to start off by telling us a little about yourself?

Carrie: I am married with 4 children and so you can guess that life is crazy for me! I love and embrace my role as wife and mother and additionally, I wear many hats in the course of a day!  I am also a licensed social worker specializing in grief counseling with children and adults.  I also teach in the graduate social work program at IUPUI, and of course I am also a Celebrant! 

Q: Many people don’t know exactly what a Celebrant does. Can you explain a little about what you do?

Carrie: A celebrant is a trained professional who works with a family to prepare, coordinate, and organize a personal and meaningful funeral or celebration of life for their loved one. 

Q: Who or when would someone want to use a Celebrant?

Carrie: Celebrants can be used for any family…even when a clergy person has also been appointed.  Families choose to have a celebrant for many reasons, i.e., their loved one did not belong to a particular church or identify with a faith or religion… but often it is because they want to have a truly meaningful funeral experience for their loved one…by incorporating music, pictures, videos, mementos, stories, etc…my goal as a Certified Celebrant is to truly honor and memorialize the life of the person who died.

Q: What are the benefits of using a Certified Celebrant?

Carrie: The biggest benefit is that the Celebrant will tailor the funeral for your loved one…it is custom made.  There is no “canned service” but instead a personal, unique service that best represents the life of their loved one.

Q: Can you describe the process when meeting with a family to prepare for a service?

Carrie: I usually spend 1-2 hours with a family in order to prepare for the service.  This time is essential in getting to know their loved one…and listening to the wishes and desires for what type of service will best help them meeting the goal of representing and honoring their loved one’s life. We discuss their loved one’s life…from birth to death…taking note of those events in his/her life that defined what kind of person he/she was.  The family shares their favorite memories, tells great stories, shares pictures, and special mementos of their loved one.  This helps paint a picture for me of who he/she was.  We discuss music, prayers, poems, and whether there are friends or family members who may want to also speak about what the person meant to them during the funeral service. My job is then to pull it all together and tell the story.

Q: How did you become a Celebrant? What inspired you?

Carrie: Unfortunately, I have attended some very “bad” funerals.  I walked away shaking my head and saying, “that was nothing like him!” or “that was not at all meaningful.”  With my grief and loss experience, I had this nagging feeling that unfulfilled funeral experiences were having an impact on the way in which families grieved.  In my heart, I knew that if families could experience a personal, meaningful, and unique funeral for their loved one, it would set the stage for healthy grieving, coping, and healing.

One evening, I was doing research on grief and loss and came across the Insight Institute where I received my Certified Celebrant training.   I signed up for the next training and was on my way!  The training class was excellent in preparing me for my work as a Celebrant.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in working with Crown Hill?

Carrie: The diversity of families served.  I love learning about various cultures, traditions, religions, rituals, customs, etc. which define a person’s life.  I am proud to be part of the family here at Crown Hill because of the outstanding reputation in taking care of families we serve along with the commitment to giving back to our community.

Q: What has been your most memorable or rewarding moment as a Celebrant so far?

Carrie: Probably my first funeral was the most memorable and rewarding so far.  It was a sudden, tragic death and the deceased had a very large family and many, many friends.  It was very emotional…very somber.  I was present as they said their final goodbyes at the casket and that was truly a sacred moment I was honored to be a part of.

Each of the services I have provided have had their own unique flair…it truly is an honor to be invited in by a family to offer this service as a Celebrant.  Professionally speaking, being a Celebrant is my favorite hat to wear!   I am proud of the work I do!


We are proud to have Carrie on board! Carrie is joining our other Celebrant, Mel McMahon. If you have any questions about our Celebrants please contact us at 317-925-3800..


Moving Through Tragedy

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

We have created an online memorial in remembrance of Sandy Hook Elementary School.Sandy Hook Online Memorial

Thank you to for sharing this article.

By: Alisha Krukowski

Recently, we all watched in horror yet again as one individual took the lives of far, far too many others. It’s hard for any of us to comprehend something so big and so awful. Our brains are wired to manage things like math exams and driving in the rain and deciding which city we should live in, not for trying to untangle and categorize a web of information that makes no logical sense.

For those personally impacted by today’s events, I sadly have no words. Not because I have nothing to say, but because my small and limited language has left me ill-equipped to speak on something that I simply cannot fathom. My heart is bursting with sorrow, and it is all I can do to send hopes and prayers and wishes to people I will both never meet, and never forget.

As I write this, I realize that these public tragedies are always so different, and yet have such similar impacts on me and the people I come into contact with. School shootings, natural disasters, terrorist attacks. They all share a common thread of leaving us stunned, enraged, and adrift in something larger than we can possibly grasp.We all seem so so deeply sad, and also so unable to adequately voice the feelings we are left with. In our attempt to make sense of something senseless, we watch tv, we read the online updates, we look at photos over and over and over again that had no business being made public in the first place.

We do this in hopes of finding some solace. And yet none of this makes us feel one bit better.

In recent years, I’ve been very mindful of monitoring my news intake and emotions following public tragedies. Today, I caved, and went online for a few moments to find out what happened. I found exactly what I was expecting: horrible facts, disturbing possibilities. Then I found a photo that knocked the breath out of me. A photo of a young woman weeping, screaming in a visceral and raw way. She held a cell phone, and the byline said she was waiting to hear if her sister had been a victim.  She stood next to a row of cars. She was alone. I doubt she knew or cared that photographers were hovering nearby.

I was immediately taken back to a time, quite a few years ago, when I saw a similar photo of another young woman, a friend of mine. There has been a similar tragedy, and she was also weeping, also shattered. She had just learned that her brother was indeed a victim. I imagine that was the worst moment of her life. And photographers made this immensely private moment horribly, horribly public. It was obscene then, and it is obscene still to take individual tragedy and turn it into media sensation. Seeing both of these photos left me feeling sick, and far worse off emotionally than before I had seen them.

We cannot control public tragedies, or what the media shares in their aftermath. We cannot control how others around us may react to the events.  We can control when and how much we personally take in, how we spend our time, and how we try to find balance in confusing and frightening days.

I am not a therapist, a counselor, or a psychologist. I am neither an expert in public tragedy nor a trained responder to traumatic events. I am a human. I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife.  I am a woman who has lost loved ones and been there for friends when they have lost loved ones of their own. By nature of my age, I have lived to learn of more public tragedies than I care to count.

At this particular moment, I am just one person, looking for a way to find and convey some semblance of calm while standing in a storm of unimaginable things.

I have no answers for what has happened today, or for how any one person should try to move through such an unexplainable series of events. What I can offer are a few suggestions of how I personally work my way through days and weeks like these. You may find yourself inclined to try one or more of these things, or you may find them to be ill-suited for you personally. My hope is that in reading the list, you will at least consider some ways you may wish to help yourself and your loved ones as you try to find your way back towards a less scary and sorrow-filled place.

  • Put yourself on an immediate “news diet.” Make a conscious and implementable plan about your news intake. That may mean allowing yourself to check in briefly with the news once every two hours. Or perhaps you’ll decide that giving yourself one solid hour, and then no other news for the day is a better fit. Regardless of your specific decision, make a plan and commit to sticking to it. Let friends and family know, so they are able to respect and support your choice.  Take note of how you feel after checking in with the news. If you find you feel worse than before you checked in, more reason to limit your news intake. Tragedy is not, and should not be a spectator sport.
  • Do something kind. It doesn’t matter what you do, but make a point to do something good or kind today, and each day as the crisis continues to unfold. Let someone ahead of you in traffic, leave a few extra dollars for your waitress, take your dog (and yourself) on an extra long walk.  I’m betting you’ll feel better after doing something kind for someone else. There’s something inherently therapeutic about acts of kindness, which can help you to balance out the negative emotions you may find yourself inundated with in times of publicized sorrow.
  • Refrain from posting “news” of the events on facebook, twitter, etc. If you feel inclined to post about your feelings of sadness, your wishes for impacted families, or your thoughts on tragedy in general, that may be something to consider. But posting updates about the tragedy itself will likely not help you or others. The specifics are often irrelevant, since the facts remain the same: Something terrible happened. Innocent individuals were injured or killed. There will never, ever be any bit of information or any new development that will make any of this make sense.
  • Reach out to those you love, and tell them you love them. It sounds a little clichéd, I know, but have you ever felt anything other than good after sharing your feelings of love or friendship with people in your life? It’s an easy way to both offer support, and feel support yourself.
  • Ask for help if you need help. If the news of tragedy has left you feeling overwhelmed with grief, sadness, fear, or any other emotion, please seek immediate support. If you need a shoulder to cry on, call a friend or family member. If you feel that you are in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255 or go immediately to your local emergency room.
  • If you have children in your life, be mindful of what they may be seeing and hearing. Again, I am not a therapist, but it is always a good idea to ask your children what they are feeling, and how you can help them to process those feelings. They may have created some “truths” in their minds that are not accurate or helpful for them to be holding. Ask them what they have learned. If you have any concerns about how to support your child through tragic events, you should reach out to school or grief counselors, therapists, or other local support services.
  • Physically do something to help. This doesn’t mean you have to fly to the impacted areas. This means choosing to devote time, energy, or money to a cause that is close to your heart. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, send money (even a few dollars) to an organization that speaks to you, or help to clean up litter at an underfunded playground or park. When you immerse yourself in something that is helping those in need, you may feel a sense of connection to people everywhere who are helping where help is needed. It’s a good feeling, and again, that can help to balance out some of the negative feelings.

The truth is this: We cannot, through any good deed, positive thought or thoughtfully-worded blog post change what happened today. We cannot go back in time and prevent tragedy.  We cannot still the hands of those who perpetrate violence.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that we can or should pretend that nothing has happened.  What we can do is change the way we decide to personally move through times like these.  We can make a choice to  surround ourselves with positive thoughts and individuals rather than repetitive and horrifying images and news stories. We can make a choice to help our children digest and understand what has happened in a way that is appropriate for their age. We can decide to do lots and lots and lots of tiny positive things in hopes of helping to counter-balance the few large and terrible things that will happen in this world.  We can decide to focus our time and energy towards creating a small bit of healing in a time of large sorrow.

Really, that’s the most any of us can hope to do in a time like this – find or create a small piece of healing.  In my opinion, it’s a pretty good goal to work towards.

If you have other positive suggestions for coping during times of tragedy, please add them in the comments section below.  You may find that offering support to others can help you to find your own sense of healing.


Project 9/11 Indianapolis

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

We all remember what we were doing on September 11. Greg Hess of Indian Task Force 1, was one of the first responders to the World Trade Centers in NYC. This is his story about getting a memorial in Indianapolis, Indiana. Follow him in his journey there are two videos.


Memorial Day at Crown Hill Cemetery, 2012

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Fathers Day Quotes

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

To all the Indianapolis fathers, we appreciate you!  Enjoy these quotes about fathers.

“Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.” ~Ruth E. Renkel

“A father carries pictures where his money used to be.”  ~Author Unknown

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author Unknown

“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.”  ~M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter

“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  ~Bill Cosby

“He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

“None of you can ever be proud enough of being the child of such a Father who has not his equal in this world – so great, so good, so faultless. Try, all of you, to follow in his footsteps and don’t be discouraged, for to be really in everything like him none of you, I am sure, will ever be. Try, therefore, to be like him in some points, and you will have acquired a great deal.” ~Queen Victoria of England

“My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it.” ~Natasha Josefowitz

“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad” ~Proverb

“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice” ~Anonymous

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” ~Sigmund Freud

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.” ~Unknown


Memorial Day 2012

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Join Crown Hill Funeral Home, Cemetery, and Foundation for our 144th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony.    Major General R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of Indiana will be featured as the Keynote Speaker.  The ceremony will also include Patriotic music,  Roll Call of Fallen Hoosier Heroes, Honor Guard 21-Gun Salute with Howitzer Cannons, Taps, and more.

Be sure to sign the Support Banner to send our troops serving in Afghanistan.  Crown Hill thanks Priority Press for their support in providing a banner for the Indianapolis community to send.

Schedule for Memorial Day / Monday, May 28th

  • 10:00 am: Civil War Encampment, Confederate Mound on Sec. 23 (follow the yellow line)
  • 12:45 pm: Civil War Memorial Service, Confederate Mound on Sec. 23
  • 1:30 pm: Band Concert performed by the Indiana Army National Guard’s 38th Division Band, Crown Hill National Cemetery (follow the white line)
  • 2:00 pm: Crown Hill’s 144th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony, Crown Hill National Cemetery

For more information click here.


Coping With Loss on Mother’s Day

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Although Mother’s Day can be a celebratory day, it can be a day of sorrow or remembrance for others.  Those that have lost a mother or a child often find Mother’s Day to be filled with pain.  Beliefnet readers were asked to submit their tips for coping and their suggestions were compiled into an article.  Below are 15 ways to get through a difficult day, from Beliefnet readers.

  1. Create an Online Memorial
  2. Buy Yourself a Special Gift
  3. Join a Support Group
  4. Participate in Motherless Daughters Day
  5. Keep Mom’s Memory Alive
  6. Plant a Tree in Her Honor
  7. Ask God to Help You Through
  8. Live Their Philosophy
  9. Spend the Day With Family
  10. Reach Out and Volunteer
  11. Send an E-mail to Heaven
  12. Visit a Nursing Home
  13. Celebrate Your Loved One’s Life
  14. Wear Something From Those Who Are Gone
  15. Be sensitive to Those Coping with Infertility

Read more about these 15 tips.

How do you remember your loved ones on Mother’s Day?  Share by writing a comment.


A Time to Honor and Remember

Friday, March 30th, 2012

IU Health Hospice and Crown Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery will honor Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 19th at 2:00 in the afternoon.  We invite you to join us at Crown Hill Funeral Home’s Memorial Chapel.

Join us as we honor and support our country’s men and women in uniform; past and present in a special ceremony to acknowledge each veteran in attendance with a small token of our gratitude.

  • Brig. Gen. Stewart Goodwin, USAF (ret.), Executive Director, Indiana War Memorials will address the gathering on bahlf of the grateful citizens of Indiana.
  • Light refreshments will be served in Crown Hill Funeral Home’s Celebration Hall following service.
  • The conclusion of the service will be held at the Eternal Flame in the Field of Valor, rain or shine.  For those who wish to observe without moving ou to the cemetery, the reception area and patio will be open.

Click Here for event flyer.

Join us as we honor and support our country’s men and women in uniform; past and present in a special ceremony to acknowledge each veteran in attendance with a small token of our gratitude.


Flower Placement Program

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Placing flowers is an important way to recognize the memory of a loved one.  At Crown Hill Cemetery, we offer a Flower Placement Program to ensure flowers are placed on holidays, birthdays, and other special dates.

To participate, fill out the form and send it back to us.


Holiday Candlelight Service, 2011

Thursday, January 12th, 2012