celebrating a life

Sharing our Stories: Honouring Loved Ones in Unique Ways

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When funeral and cemetery professionals help honour a loved one in a uniquely memorable way, they sincerely want those ceremonies to make a lasting impression on you, your family, friends and every guest in attendance.What many families may not realize, is the depth of the impression each family makes on our professionals.

So we asked our staff to share their most memorable stories of helping families create a truly meaningful way to say goodbye. Hundreds of employees responded - everyone from funeral directors to preplanning specialists to graphic designers.

There’s a common theme that runs through their stories - a deep commitment to celebrating an individual in a manner that honours their unique life and brings together those whose hearts are heavy with loss.

One funeral director recalls a stock car driver, whose life was honoured by a victory lap around the local speedway and checkered flags at half-mast outside the funeral home. In another case, to help a family deal with the passing of a man whose great passion was for his ‘grown up toys’, the funeral home made some unusual preparations. They arranged for two of his prized motorcycles to be displayed right in the chapel, and three more at the front entrance surrounding his classic ‘67 Corvette convertible. The family was overwhelmed by the funeral director’s idea and willingness to make it happen.

Ever hear of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic?

One Arbor manager took that charming scene to heart. You see, the gentleman who had passed away collected teddy bears, and the family had a great idea to bring a few to the funeral home in his honour. When later that day they showed up with 18 large bags of fuzzy bruins and a dozen giant stuffed bears, the manager went to work, taking a full day to create the perfect chapel for their ceremonies.

“I first set up artificial trees so the casket looked like it was in a forest,” he writes. “All the bears surrounded the casket, as well as a couple of small ones inside, and in his hands. The rest were placed among the trees, peeking out or sitting beside. As flowers came in from friends and guests, we put them on low stands, adding colour to our make-believe forest. When the family arrived, I had nature music playing as they walked to the casket.”

This caring professional remembers well the amazing impact it created and the appreciative comments from the family and guests. “It was a complete transformation,” he continues, “but it did more than just change the look of the chapel. It changed the atmosphere - from funeral to celebration.”

Such creative thinking and can-do approach makes all the difference to people longing to maintain connection with their loved one’s life, loves, hobbies and accomplishments. In fact, many people now choose to pre-plan their own event, to ensure the celebration of their life does just that.

Think about it. How would you tell your story?

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