2017-08-23 “Yes You Can”

It’s true that more people are choosing cremation today. Sometimes following the cremation there may be a memorial service or there may not be one.  Sometimes there is a very personal gathering of family at the graveside to say goodbye and sometimes there is a boat chartered out into the waves of Lake Erie…any funeral home can arrange those kinds of services with outside companies who offer them.  When I hear people talking about these kinds of services, I hear different comments…some people like it and some don’t but it’s a very personal choice and more times than not, it is a choice that was made very clear before the person passed away.  I always said that I wanted to be cremated and have my ashes spread in my mother’s garden so that if I got stuck on her boots I would go for a walk with her.  Since that isn’t possible anymore, I am open to whatever my family’s needs are at the time.  While a simplified funeral service may be less expensive than a traditional funeral service, both services can be equally as meaningful.  There are so many ways that you can make that time what you need it to be.  I always say to follow your heart and then you will know that you did what was right.  You only have one chance and you won’t regret the things that you do, only the things that you didn’t do.  I wish that people wouldn’t be afraid to ask me any question because you would find that I am one of the most open minded people that you will come to know in your life.  I will discuss any funeral service options with you.  We are not a part of a “pack” that other funeral homes say they are trying to lead; instead we are part of the “pack” that is led by consumers.  Our motto here is “yes we can” or more importantly “yes YOU can”.

Until next week,

Marc

2017-08-16 “Happy Birthday Makaila!”

Nineteen years ago a wonderful thing happened in our lives…we were given the chance to be parents just one more time. On Saturday, the first day of being an “adult” and the beginning of the last year of being a teenager, Makaila chose to spend the day with her parents and go to the Festival Theatre in Stratford to watch “Romeo and Juliet”.  Given the things that she could have chosen now that she is 19, I think that spending the day with us said a lot.

Makaila and Marc1Happy 19th birthday, Makaila!  In the words of Robert Munsch, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”.

Dad

2017-08-03 “Back to School”

There was a moment of panic this morning when I realized that August had crept up on me and I felt that I wasn’t ready! For as long as I have had children in school, summer has been defined as the period of time between the last day of school in June and the first day of school in September. It’s funny how that block of time seemed longer when I was a kid than it does today and how I always looked forward to the first day of school more as a kid than I do now.

Getting ready for school back in the day was a big event…it would come in August when the second cutting of hay had been baled and there was a lull in the farm work that needed to be done. Back to school shopping would be one of the few trips that we would make to London (unlike now when my children commute back and forth to work). Back then, there was a downtown mall in London on the corner of York and Wellington with a parking garage attached to it and that’s where we would shop. Our school bags were sturdy and lasted us for years and our metal lunch pails only needed to be replaced if they had been damaged or if they got rusty. I still remember a certain smell that metal lunch pails had or maybe it was just the ketchup sandwiches that I took to school! We didn’t have juice boxes or pre-packaged snacks. Instead, we would go to the garden and pick a tomato or some grapes for our lunches.

Our back to school shopping would have mostly been to buy a new outfit to wear on our first day back and only a few school supplies because our pencils and workbooks were supplied at S.S.#8 Beechwood; the one room school house that we went to. For the first couple of grades, we were given fat pencils to use while we learned how to print in workbooks that had three lines; one on the bottom and one on the top for capital letters and one in the middle to show us how high lower case letters should be.

Ahhhh…the memories!

2017-07-26 “Music”

Despite the changes that I have seen in the world of funeral services, there does remain one consistent component and that is the importance of music. I don’t think that I have ever been involved in a single funeral service where there hasn’t been any music played.  The music that we like is a true reflection of ourselves and sometimes of the era that we were raised in.

Music is something that you will probably remember about someone’s funeral. I still remember the music that we played at my Mom’s funeral…the grandchildren chose “Tears In Heaven”, my brother Marvin recorded some music that he played on his guitar and as we left the church we played “It Is Well With My Soul”.  For the weeks to follow when I was feeling sad I would go for a drive, put the cassette tape in the van and listen to those songs over and over again.  Listening to those songs gave me some comfort…maybe even something to hang on to until I was ready to let go.

I will always remember that one family years ago, before I owned my own funeral home…their Dad loved the songs “Hello Dolly” and “When The Saints Go Marching In” and those were the songs that they wanted to have played. And they were played, but in comparison to being played loud and proud like they would be today, the organist just kind of slipped them in quietly because they weren’t traditional funeral songs.

Thank goodness people have challenged the way we do funerals over the years. Whether it is during a funeral service or on a slideshow of pictures, I encourage people to choose music that is a reflection of the life lived.  Along with the almost 100 CD’s that we have here, there are 2,653 songs downloaded on my computer.  From “Amazing Grace” to “Gabriel’s Oboe” to “Stairway to Heaven”, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t hesitate to add personal touches to a funeral service. You won’t regret the things that you did, only the things that you wanted to do but were afraid to ask.

2017-07-12 “Family Gatherings”

Growing up, there were times of the year when our extended families would come together…one of them being the summer picnic. Because we didn’t travel far or often back then (going to London was a big thing), the summer picnic was a significant event.  Everybody who came was well dressed…my mother and my aunts all wore dresses, my father and uncles wore trousers and pressed shirts.  Everybody brought lots of homemade food in picnic baskets and it all tasted great.  We played games and nobody lost…there were penny candies for prizes and the winners probably got two candies instead of one…we were all happy.  Sometimes our family picnics were held at Rondeau Park but more often they were held at my aunts and uncles houses.  I read a book a while ago that reminded me of our family picnics…as the author stated, “the date was carefully chosen to accommodate the work routine of the farmers.  By that time, the first cutting of hay was put in the mow of the barn…”  I remember the tables being set up and bales of straw for seats!  As a young teenager, one of the things my cousins and I liked to do was to wander around and check out the cars and since my mothers side of the family was large, there were lots of cars to see…one time two of my Uncles bought the exact same car and my cousin Stuart always could be counted on to have one of the latest and best cars like his orange Pontiac GTO “The Judge”.  Those times all seem so simple now and family reunions are fading.  I’ve heard so many people say that their families only get together at weddings and funerals…that’s unfortunate, but I understand that.  Many nights we are here past visitation times while people “catch up” and it’s all good.  We’ll never make you feel uncomfortable regardless of how long you stay.

Until next week,

Marc

2017-07-05 “Baling Hay”

As I sit at my desk getting ready to write this musing, I am remembering the many “last days of school” that took place in our house over the years and the special ways that we celebrated it. It’s funny how things change over the years.

I was raised on a dairy farm just outside of Ridgetown. I don’t really remember how we would have celebrated the last day of school…whatever it was that we did was probably overshadowed for me by the hay in the field that was ready to baled the next day now that I was home.  If I had any dreams about sleeping in, they would have been dashed by the early morning chores that needed to be done, the grass that needed to be cut and the weeds that needed to be pulled in the garden.  I’m sure that I grumbled a bit when I had to do those things.  Actually, I’m sure that I grumbled a lot!!  One of my father’s constant sayings was that “work comes before play”…that was a value that we were raised by.  And so after we baled all of the hay, he would give me 25 cents and let me ride my bike into town to go to the public swimming pool.

When someone dies and I meet with their families, we talk about memories. Memories come in all shapes and forms.  Sometimes a memory is as simple as “I remember playing baseball in the back yard” or “I remember the picnics in Rondeau Park” or maybe even “I remember having a wiener roast on the last day of school”.  You would be surprised at how simple some of the best memories in life are…and they didn’t cost a dime.  The most precious possessions that you will have in life are the memories you have, not the things you own.

I don’t know if baling hay will ever be one of those best memories for me or swimming in the public pool either for that matter. If only my father would have believed me when I tried acting too sick to bale hay…now that would have been a great memory but it never worked!

Until next week,

Marc.

2016-06-21 “What’s Important”

And so the question was raised “I’m nervous going to a funeral home when someone dies. What am I supposed to do?” This is an answer from a lady who lost her husband…

The best thing to do at a funeral is just go. I didn’t know the majority of the people who were at my husbands funeral, and yet, the fact that they came for him made me feel so good. Especially those work friends he’d talked about but that I’d never met. And my kids friends, and their parents! He wasn’t my kids father, but that my kids friends came to support them was amazing to me too.

What to wear? I don’t remember what anyone wore, I know I wasn’t offended by anything out of the ordinary, but then again, I was too busy with my own thoughts to worry if Aunt Tooties dress was too short or if Uncle Don went out and bought a new pair of dress pants.

People came to view the body, some touched, some didn’t, but that was ok too. I held his hand the whole time. At one point, a woman I don’t even know (part of his family, great aunt? Cousin?) came in with a camera. I saw her quickly put it in her purse, embarrassed. I asked, would you like to take a picture? She said yes, and we had a nice conversation about how some people think it’s weird or disrespectful, but I’ve got funeral pictures of family back to when cameras were first invented.

I know I’m just one person, and I know all people are different, but those are just my opinions. I think it’s better to come and support then to stay at home. The family might not even realize you were there, but having people there is important.

How sad if everyone was too afraid to go, and so no one came?

Until next week,

Marc

2016-06-07 “Friends”

When someone dies, much of the concern that we show is directed to that person’s family, and rightly so. But there are significant people in everyone’s life who will also grieve a loss…those people who we call “friends”. Webster’s Dictionary includes the definition of friend to be a favoured companion and in that vein, it is reasonable that friends as well as families will grieve. Friends will go through all of the same stages of grief that I have written about before, only I think that the onset may be different…it could be delayed a bit if friends don’t live together and are not in each other’s daily lives.

For everyone, the first stage of grief is shock and disbelief which is what helps us get through those initial days and which is why the loss seems to hurt more as time goes on. One day you will go to do one of those “friend things” and it will hit you that Jane is really not there. And you’ll be sad and you’ll be angry and maybe for awhile you may not feel like doing “friend things” because it hurts too much or because you feel guilty for having fun without her. Maybe without really understanding what is going on you will go to a place where it doesn’t hurt so much and throw yourself into doing things to an extreme like working or shopping or baking. And then, as Oprah says, you’ll have an “aha” moment when you realize what’s going on and why you’re doing the things you’re doing and you can begin to heal.

In one of my favourite songs by Michael W Smith called “Friends Are Friends Forever” he sings about losing friends and he sings “We’ll keep you close as always; it won’t even seem you’re gone. ‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways will keep the love that keeps us strong. Though it’s hard to let you go in the Father’s hands we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends”.

Until next week,

Marc

2017-05-17 “The River”

I have seen a lot of changes in the Funeral industry over the last 36 years since I earned my Funeral Directors license. I feel that the most welcomed changes to the way we operate as Funeral Homes have been the changes that were initiated by you. I have been a part of some incredible life experiences because of you and it is a privilege to help you achieve whatever it is that you need.

When it comes to being a Funeral Director, I am one of the most non-judgmental people you will ever meet. I don’t believe that there are any silly questions or ideas when it comes to funerals so don’t hesitate to say what it is that you want.  I always say that you won’t regret the things that you do, just the things that you wanted to do but were afraid to ask.  From a traditional funeral service to a basic cremation service, my promise to you is that I will do my very best to make your remembrance whatever it is that you want it to be.

It can be a challenge in any business to adapt to the changing needs of consumers. While some businesses will try to “re-route the river” for their own needs, what generally happens is that the river will end up going in the direction that it wanted to go in the first place.  And so what we need to do is accept river current and be able to offer some innovative ways of navigating it.

Follow your heart.

 

Marc

2017-05-24 “Transfers”

Sometimes a thought that goes through a person’s mind is that they wish that their pre-arranged funeral was held at a different Funeral Home. Can that happen?  Absolutely!  In fact, it happens more than you know!

If you are the owner of a pre-arranged funeral and wish to transfer it to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, it is as simple as visiting us with your existing paperwork and making your wishes known. We will take care of the rest.

If you have Power of Attorney for someone and your wish is that his/her pre-arranged funeral be transferred to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, it is as simple as visiting us with your power of attorney and existing paperwork and making your wishes known. We will take care of the rest.

If you’re at a hospital or nursing home and have just experienced a death and wish that your loved one’s funeral service would be held at the Blenheim Community Funeral Home instead of the Funeral Home where a pre-arrangement is held, then you as the executor can make that decision. Simply tell whoever will make the initial call which Funeral Home you wish to use and they will follow your direction.  We will take care of the rest.  If it is you who will make that call, follow your heart.

While some Funeral Homes may charge a cancellation fee when you transfer your pre-arranged funeral, we do not. In fact, if you are charged that fee by another Funeral Home, we will reimburse it to you.

What are some of the reasons that people have transferred their funeral arrangements to the Blenheim Community Funeral Home?

  • Their original arrangements were made a long time ago and they have changed their mind as to which Funeral Home they would like to use
  • Their original arrangements were made in a city where they lived at the time and they now have no friends or family there and want to use a Funeral Home where they live now
  • Some find that there is more value by transferring their pre-arrangements to a different Funeral Home

If your pre-arranged funds are being held in trust, it is simply a matter of transferring the money into a new trust…it still remains your money. If your pre-arranged funds are invested into an insurance policy, it is simply a matter of changing the beneficiary.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call.

 

Until next week,

Marc