How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

What to Wear to a Funeral

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Deciding what to wear to a funeral almost seems obvious, but wearing black is becoming outdated as more and more mourning services are being replaced by celebrations-of-life services. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral can be confusing, especially when your outfit is the last thing on your mind in the midst of your grieving. 

Have you ever wondered...

Why do people wear black to funerals? Wearing black has been a long-accepted tradition intended to show respect to the deceased and the family. Where did the association of black mourning clothing come from? In fact, this tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire when the family of the deceased would wear a dark-colored toga called a toga pulla. This tradition spread to Europe during medieval times when widows wore black caps and veils to convey their mourning.

Do all cultures wear black to funerals? In other parts of medieval Europe like Spain and France, widows in their deepest mourning wore white. White is also traditionally worn in India and China. However, at a Chinese funeral service, if someone is older then 80, red is acceptable. Further, in Myanmar, yellow is acceptable, and in Iranian culture, mourners traditionally wear blue or purple.

As you can see, dressing for a funeral is not "black and white" when you take into consideration the venue, the family, and the culture - making us ask the question: what do I wear to a funeral?

Here are some general tips to help you dress for a funeral, memorial service, visitation, wake, or graveside service.

  • Choose a color. The inclination is to choose something black, but a gray, navy, or other understated colors is also appropriate in most situations. It should not be something that will stand out, as you should aim at clean, subdued color clothing. If color is specified or it's an entirely non-traditional ceremony, don't worry about dressing in dark colors.
  • Think classic. Dress appropriately and conservatively, especially if the service is in a place of worship. Keep in mind the guests that will be attending, and if they would find your clothing inappropriate, you should probably change. It is sometimes helpful to dress business professional - skirts, trousers, suits. 

Some further tips to add:

  • Are you a member of the immediate family? If so, keep in mind that you will be setting the dress code for the rest of the guests.
  • If you're outside and it's a summer day in Florida, you are most likely not expected to wear a full suit. 
  • A pre-planned funeral service may include instructions for attendees attires. 
  • Occasionally, the family will request that guests wear their loved one’s favorite color, sports team jersey, or something else that might have been meaningful to the person who passed away. They will usually note this in the service announcement.

Hopefully this post has helped you when deciding what to wear to a funeral service. At the end of the day, your presence is what truly matters. This is not a time for people to be judgmental, so unless you're wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt, you're probably OK. You can now have the peace of mind to be able to focus on grieving - and celebrating the life - of your loved one.


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Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling

Is Social Media Making Us Narcissistic?


Social media tempts us to live in an attention seeking society and it seems that everyone is on board with it. The usage statistics of these cites are astounding. Every day, on average, 60 million photos are uploaded to Instagram. More than 20% of the world's population publishes details of their lives on Facebook, creating over 3.2 billion likes and comments every day.

To many, this might not come as a surprise. If you're reading this, you most likely came across it through social media. We've joined Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn , Facebook and all the rest and are fascinated, not looking away, even when we're having a face-to-face conversation. It's never been easier to see what your friends are up to, stay in contact with people, and, most noticeably, become a publicity-seeking narcissist. The constant desire to display our lives to the public, searching for this approval from others, has influenced a culture of vanity and self-endorsement.

But, is this really what our society has come to? For many, social networks are to blame for their narcissism, but others just need to find a balance before teetering on the edge.

I'd like to think that social media hasn't shaped an entirely egotistical existence. These platforms have opened up creative outlets, given a voice to the ignored, fostered relationships, assisted in a job searches, introduced us to new ideas and concepts, built time capsules for users, created a platform for documenting our life stories... The list could go on.

However, what happened that transformed our use of social media from casually checking our accounts into habitually surfing and refreshing for notifications? It's imperative to find a balance and prevent the dark side of social media from shadowing the positives. There are several good habits you can practice that will help you resist the urge from constantly checking your phone or computer:

1. Schedule "me" time. It's important to have time to yourself, but with hectic schedules, we're often moving from one thing to the next. Instead of using any free opportunity to check your social networks, do something that betters yourself first. Go for a walk, write a letter, read, call your grandparents, stretch, or simply sit quietly by yourself.

2. Get into the habit of not checking your phone for the first hour of your day. For many of us, it's first instinct to look at our notifications as soon as we get up. Instead, practice mindfulness and resist the urge. Start your day off on a positive note. Ensuring you begin your day quietly with minimal outside distractions can have a positive influence on the rest of your day.

3. Avoid distractions. When working or studying, exercise restraint from looking at your notifications. This can lead to unintentional time lost. If you have a strong desire to constantly check your social media, look at it on the hour as a reward for a distraction-free 60 minutes of work.

4. Don't compare yourself with others. You are simply viewing a certain aspect of someone's life, and everyone posts only their best photos or the exciting aspects of their lives. Be happy for their accomplishments, and understand that the people your viewing also face trials and tribulations.

5. Don't worry about being approved. Some people rely on social media for their self-confidence. Refuse to constantly check to see who's liked your post, waiting to feel validated. Feel happy and approving of yourself and don't give that control to others. Instill a healthy sense of esteem offline before logging on.

6. Give quality time to others first. The real relationships in your life are the most valuable. Establish a rule with your friends to collect everyone's phones when you're out to eat or instill in your children that phones at the dinner table are unacceptable. Giving attention to your friends and family when they're with you will be the memories you'll cherish in the future.

Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation. A healthy balance of social media can be formed where the threat of becoming narcissistic is inexistent. Everything in moderation. And avoid announcing to social media your attempts to reduce your social media usage.


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The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories


Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.

We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions  with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly.  Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.

In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:

"In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"

I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.

Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.

Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.

1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.

2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.

3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.

4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.

5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.

6. Similarly, make a Snapfish or Shutterfly book that collects the pictures from special event or vacation . These photo books make great gifts or coffee table books.

7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a  Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.

8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.

9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.

10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.

So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling

Ancestry and Genealogy Research Resources

Unlimited genealogy research resources exist in the world. Fortunately, many of these resources are now available online. These days anyone can take an interest in genealogy without having to spend hours digging through libraries and archives and paying for photocopies. Online resources have changed the genealogy research world; however, navigating all the online resources can be an adventure.

“How do I know where to start?”

“What websites have the information I am looking for?”

The research process involves experimenting with different resources. Not one website works for absolutely everyone, because the sites pull from varying databases and collections. The documents these resources offer add value to your life story and your family history. As mentioned in our previous blog post, these documents add a sense of legitimacy to your life story. Here are some popular places to start your ancestry research and find these supplementary documents:


FamilySearch is free for anyone to use. It is one of the biggest genealogy websites in the world with billions of online resources and additional physical locations with volunteers to help you in your family history research. FamilySearch connects you to other online genealogy searches increasing the amount of information available to you.

Ancestry works like a search engine by digging through databases and collections to find documents. This method has allowed Ancestry to collect billions of records from census reports to images to articles to the most extensive collection of immigration records. These documents can allow you to map your family history throughout the years. is a subscription service and can cost more than its competitors. Ancestry’s extensive databases and additional services, for some people, may make it worth the price.


MyHeritage is a fantastic genealogy search engine allowing you to search through billions of documents from around the world. The site serves as a community that allows you to connect with genealogists and better understand your family history. MyHeritage emphasizes that family history is for the family. They offer ways to get everyone involved with genealogy by providing games for kids and an easy-to-share family tree. Unfortunately, MyHeritage does not have Native American resources available. The site is easy to navigate and offers great features, such as DNA testing, a family tree builder, and a custom chart designer. My Heritage is known as a reliable resource and an enjoyable experience for the whole family.


FindMyPast is not as feature-rich as other sites, but it still serves as a valuable search engine with access to 1.6 billion records from English-speaking countries around the world. The site does offer an easy-to-use family tree builder. FindMypast does not offer much support besides research articles and the FAQ section.


Archives has access to 4.6 billion records of varying types, including immigration documents, yearbooks, adoption records, and newspapers dating back to the 1700s. Archives is a great resource for rare and interesting citations and records on your U.S. or U.K. roots. If you have roots in the U.S. from 1790 to 1930, you can find U.S. Census records for your family. However, if you have family outside of these countries, you will not be able to find data about them.


GenealogyBank is a search engine for finding newspaper articles focused in the United States dating back to the 1690s. You can find records such as obituaries, marriages, community events and arrests in newspapers, making them useful in learning about your ancestors and the environment they lived in. GenealogyBank also collects local histories, funeral sermons, biographies, directories and other books allowing you to find more than just the usual standard birth, marriage, or death certificate.

The Genealogical Research Library

The Genealogical Research Library has a more global focus compared to other sites. The database is organized by geographic location, so it is easy to begin researching the places important in your family’s history. It does not have extra features like many of the other sites offer. However, it does offer some unique resources such as antique maps, historical books, and a collection of family trees. It is not a comprehensive site, but it is a great starting place to begin your research.

DNA Testing Options

Many companies offer DNA testing services so that you can truly find your roots! offers DNA testing for $99. You do not have to have an Ancestry subscription to purchase the DNA kit. MyHeritage is now offering DNA testing for $79. 23andMe offers two packages for their DNA testing services, one priced at $99 and the other priced at $199.

Honest Products Review provides a review of the 5 best DNA kits here. Take a look if you're exploring these options.


Source: 23andMe


There is an overwhelming amount of information on the internet. These databases are a great place to start. It can be difficult to know which services will be of the most value to you. Researching your family history will take some time, but the knowledge gained will be immensely rewarding.

Check out how these sites rank on TopTenReviews.


The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories, Storytelling

How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out?

You spent hours. Many of these hours were spent wadding up papers or exercising the backspace on your keyboard. Despite these setbacks, the duration of these hours have led you to where you are now. You sit there staring at your creation. Your life story lies before you, in whichever form it may take. You exhale, and in the process, relax the furrowed lines of your forehead developed while deciding what events and memories were worthy of inclusion in this narrative. You inhale, empowered and exhilarated because of what you have just accomplished. It is not finished, of course. What life story ever is? But, you have found that stopping point where you can stop writing and move on to the next step, which is what exactly?

You wrote your life story. Now it is time for someone to read it. This reader may be a family member or someone you have never met. That decision is up to you.  It is one thing to write a story, but making a story interesting and engaging is a whole other ball game. How do you interest people in reading it? You may have heard the adage, “Build it and they will come.” As many of us learn in life, this saying does not always represent the truth. When it comes to writing and sharing your life story, more effort is involved than that of “Write it and they will come.” As a writer, you are tasked with keeping the reader interested while still staying true to yourself. So how, as a writer, do you make your life story stand out? Fortunately, there are many ways to create a dynamic and interesting life story without using excessively flowery writing or including exaggerated details.


Welcome to Step 2 of the writing process! It is time to add photos, audio files, videos, supporting documents, and a new perspective to bring your life story to a whole new level.


Photos are a sure way to bring some excitement to your life story. Photos are useful in engaging those with short attention spans who are turned away by lengthy blocks of text. They are memorable and interactive.  People say a picture is worth a thousand words, however photos are even more powerful when combined with text than when they stand alone. When adding photos, it is important to document who was there and what their names are. Do not force future generations into playing the “Guess who is in this photo?” game, because you did not write a caption or label the photo. You can describe how happy you were on your wedding day. However, for a reader to feel that they were there, they need to see it. Add a photo to your story from your wedding day, so that they can see for themselves the contentment and excitement in your smile.



Record yourself telling your story, and add the audio files to your story. We understand how much value the spoken word holds. When recording your audio, tell the story. Do not just read the script. Let those reading and listening hear the inflections and tone of your voice. Let them hear your voice crack with emotion or increase pitch with excitement. Adding emotion will bring your story to life. The experience of listening while reading a story is much more dynamic than that of just reading the text alone. Generations from now, your family members will be grateful that they can listen to the voice of their great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.


We live in the digital age, so people commonly film important moments in their life. It is easy to capture even the smallest moments because of how widespread smartphones are. If you have the videos, add them. Do it. Videos are just fun, and are a sure way to drive engagement. They have the ability to influence the reader’s mindset and emotions while they read the story leading to more interest and involvement. It is fulfilling to watch a video snippet, see a moment as it unfolds, and then read the story about the events leading up to that moment and those that followed afterward. The addition of videos creates a very holistic storytelling experience that inspires the writer and the readers.


Many stories can be supported with documents above and beyond photos and videos. Newspaper articles, birth certificates, artwork, scans of handwritten letters, diplomas, and census information add legitimacy to your stories. You may have some of these items laying around. Many of these items, however, may not be as easy to find and can require some research. Fortunately, many resources exist to assist in the search. A few of the more popular options include Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage.


Show your life story from a different perspective to keep people interested. Fortunately, TSOLife offers multiple ways to make that happen. The map view allows your life to be viewed from a global perspective and highlights your footprint on the world. Readers will immediately be able to see where you have traveled. Readers can also view your story on a vertical or horizontal timeline which offers them a chronological walk through of your life. These different viewing options allows your life story to interest a diverse group of readers.

By utilizing what resources you already have available to you, you can truly make your life story stand out. No matter who is reading it, whether it be family members, friends, or people you have never met, they will enjoy the exciting storytelling experience you are offering them. Even if you are writing for yourself as a way to reflect on your life, combining your written words with other aspects facilitates a more investigative and holistic experience. Pages of lines of text, tedious and not visually appealing, are a poor representation of the beauty and struggle in life—in your life. You have so much more to offer, so let your story shine.

Next week look forward to more information about resources available to find public documents and genealogical records.


Check out how photos and an audio recording bring this story to life.

Find supporting documents at Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage

Check out these new perspectives on a life story: map view, vertical timeline, and horizontal timeline. To learn more, read How to Write a Good Life Story.



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Storytelling

How to Write a Good Life Story

Writing your personal narrative can be an extremely rewarding experience. To read further about why your life story matters, read How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out. Unfortunately, documenting these anecdotes can seem labor intensive and overwhelming. However, sitting down and writing your life story does not have to be a scary experience. Here are a few tips that make the process exciting and stress-free:

  1. Pause before you write.

Think about what you want to write before your hand ever touches the keyboard or picks up a pen. Taking a moment to write your story in your head first gives you a mental first draft and can lessen the chances of you experiencing writer’s block or freezing as soon as you pick up the pen.

  1. Start off by thinking big.

Throw away the misconception that writing your life story means you must work chronologically from birth to present. This method may work for many and will result in a finalized memoir document, but it is a tedious and tiresome process. You will probably find yourself writing about an event, because it is next in line chronologically not because it is critical to your life story. Start writing about the stories that are most important to you. Make the process easier on yourself by writing the stories that come naturally. Write about what memories excite you and what memories make you who you are. This advice comes from Sandi Newmark, journalist and TSOLife client. As a feature writer, Sandi possess experience and expertise on highlighting the important events. She advises writing your life story like a feature piece. Spotlight the important stories, and go back to fill in the minor events later.

  1. Sweat the small stuff.

Details really set great stories apart. Include specific information, such as names, dates, and addresses. Take a moment to set the scene. What was the weather like? What was everyone’s moods that day? What stands out about the moments where your story takes place? The right details allow you to share your story with your reader and move them to that moment and that place. Details allow for a more holistic and engaging reading experience. Focus on the pertinent details. Focus your writing on elaborating upon the life event you are describing; however, avoid embarking on unrelated tangents.

  1. Think about what you wouldn’t think to ask someone in person.

There are many important questions and topics that are important to a person’s life. Many of these topics, unfortunately, do not come up naturally in every day conversation. People converse all day every day, but how meaningful is what they are communicating? Write about what does not come up in the conversation in person. How did you first know you were in love? What is your biggest regret? What is your proudest moment?

  1. Add recommendations and advice.

Think about what retrospective knowledge you can pass down to others. Consider why you are writing this story and who will be reading it. Do you want your audience to take something specific away from it? When telling a travel story, where do you recommend someone to visit? When writing about the best date you had ever been on, what advice can you offer others for their next date? Documenting the story of your life gives you the opportunity to pass down knowledge to others, and it is important to take advantage of this opportunity.

  1. Show your personality!

This is your life story, so make sure it shows who you are. Feel free to include humor when appropriate. Throw in your favorite saying. Your writing style can be very poetic, or more conversational. Let your writing style reflect your character and personality.

  1. Find your inspiration.

Accept that writer’s block is normal. Sometimes we sit down to write, and our mind becomes as blank as the paper at which we are staring. Find your writing inspiration and look to it when you are stumped. Think about your favorite book, a memoir you have read, a conversation you had in the past, or the dream you had while sleeping last night. Reread what you have already written. Looking through old photographs can trigger many memories and many stories. (More about writing about photographs in our next blog post.) Take a moment to clear your mind and hit reset. Go for a walk or close your eyes for a few minutes. From where one draws inspiration is different for everyone.

  1. Be fearless.

Do not be afraid to look inside yourself. Write about all that is good as well as all that causes you pain. When you feel exposed and uncomfortable and find yourself outside your comfort zone is when true reflection, self-discovery, and brilliance takes hold.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anaïs Nin

The writing process is different for everyone, and sooner or later you will find what works best for you. The tips above will send you in the right direction. Writing your life story can be an uplifting and wonderful experience, and is one that everyone should experience. Best of luck and happy writing!

Need inspiration? Check out these 100 Prompts for Writing About Yourself.



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days