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Celebrating a Life: Little Things Can Matter Most

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A small gesture from someone else can virtually change your day. It’s the bus driver who waits as you run to the stop, and the friend who drops by with a cupcake when you need a boost. No doubt you’ve shared such acts of kindness with others too. So, you know that giving or receiving these small considerations is amply rewarding on both sides. 

The funeral and cemetery professionals at Arbor Memorial support families facing a seemingly insurmountable wall of sadness and loss. It’s compelling that beyond their essential task of creating seamless customized services, they report it’s often “the little touches” that provide the greatest personalization and comfort for the families they serve.

For example, while making arrangements with a family whose father had passed suddenly, the funeral home administrator took note when they reminisced about how their dad always carried Tootsie Rolls in his pocket for the grandchildren. As a surprise token of remembrance, the staff placed bowls of Tootsie Rolls in the visitation suite. The son in particular was deeply touched, and even put a few of the candies in his dad’s pocket before closing the casket - a small and meaningful gesture in its own right. 

At another funeral home, Big Macs were brought in for the reception, the favourite food of the mother who’d passed away. It was a simple idea, but it made a big impact. By talking over possibilities and exchanging ideas like this one, a family and their funeral provider can together create a truly unique memorial that suits the person perfectly.

Green nail polish anyone? Everyone? 

Yes!  After discussing with a family how green had special meaning for their loved one, Arbor staff bought green nail polish and painted fingers and toes for the guests - both women and men. They even painted their own. This light-hearted, creative tribute meant a lot, especially to the young daughter who was amazed that a funeral home would do this in memory of her dad.

Small gestures provide comfort.  They help make a send-off more personal. But they can also foster real, measurable healing.

Such was the case for one family who, separated by divorce and years of bad feelings, attended a cremation ceremony of a mutual loved one - a young man in his 20s. It was to be a quick meeting, but the funeral director suggested the families spend a little time to honour their loved one’s life by decorating the casket with markers he provided. Intrigued by this idea, the young man’s sisters, who are artists, asked to bring in their acrylic paints, which was of course more than welcome.  

In our funeral director’s own words: “...for three hours the family visited and painted and laughed and cried before seeing their departed loved one off for the last time. At the end, the man’s father approached me tearfully and told me that their experience that afternoon was the best time they had shared as a group in years, and that it was a healing experience for everyone.”  

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