BY BRANDY TEMPLETON

Rutledge & Bigham Mortuary Inc. is recognizing those who’ve suffered loss this Father’s Day. For the first time in the family owned and operated mortuary’s 98-year history, they will be gifting family members with individualized father or child coffee mugs.

All family members served who lost a father from June 2019 through June 2020 will receive a free customized coffee mug in remembrance of their loved one.

“It doesn’t matter how many children they had, each one will get a mug,” CEO and funeral director Bernardeane H. Moton said.

The “Sips of Comfort” mugs featured the names and photos of the deceased. Each one comes with a message on grief and comforting Biblical scripture:

“Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Moton said God has blessed the funeral home staff to continue caring for grieving families. In 2007, they began giving customized Christmas ornaments to families.

The decision to honor father’s stems from another initiative that began a decade ago.

“In a nutshell, in 2011 we started handmade corsages for Mother’s Day for everyone who lost a mother,” Moton said.

She said it was a week-long outreach for grieving mothers, would stop by the funeral home to cry, hug, and get their corsages to wear to church.

“Some of the mothers would gather at the end of the week,” Moton said. “They got to touch us.”

She said many of the mothers needed the hugs because they’d lost their children tragically and unexpectedly.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff and volunteers made a couple hundred corsages, but many mothers did not come in to pick then up.

“They were scared to come out,” Moton said. “And all the churches were closed, so they had no where to wear them.”

She said that many family members were calling and crying on the phone about not having the Mother’s Day acknowledgement.

“There was no talking, no hugging, no encouragement,” Moton said.

She cried too because “hugging is important at Rutledge & Bigham,” and she wanted to comfort the bereaved.

“We decided on something we could mail,” she said. “We decided on no-charge coffee mugs that we’ll do from now on.”

Moton hopes that it will give comfort to families and let them know Rutledge & Bigham is always there for them.

“We have families still coming from the 1990s,” she said. “We don’t just bury them and it’s the end of the story.”

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