Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

A Very Special Goodbye

- Monday, December 16, 2013

Our president, Marla Noel, shares how memorial services can be special.

“My goodness, Uncle Ed certainly would have loved being here today. It was exactly the kind of ‘send off’ he would have enjoyed.” 

I think most of us have heard something like this spoken at the end of a funeral we have attended. Sometimes, these end-of-life celebrations just happen. The person is so well understood, and his or her family is so tuned in, it just turns out that way.

Unfortunately, many times the family is so filled with grief, they can’t stop and think about how to best say goodbye to their loved one. In those cases, the funerals are fine, but not really special.

In my role at Fairhaven, I’ve seen it all. And I know when it “works.” I’d like to share one funeral we helped create that truly “worked.”

Sally (not her real name) was a respected businesswoman here in Orange County and much beloved by her large, close-knit family. It came as a shock when she received a diagnosis of cancer – and a form of cancer that was almost impossible to fight. She was told she had less than six months to live.

Sally was stunned and chose not to tell anyone but her immediate family. But after the shock wore off, she began aggressive treatments and wound up living nearly two years. During that extended period, she also thought about how she would like to say farewell. She had so many people to say goodbye to – family, friends, clients, business associates.

She decided to make a video in which she shared her thoughts – about life and about dying. She talked about the joy her family brought her and how much she cherished her friendships. She thanked her loyal clients.

Sally did all this while strolling through her expansive rose garden, another part of her life that she enjoyed. She did this before her health deteriorated so she still looked and sounded like the Sally everyone knew and loved. Yes, a little thinner, but still Sally.

The video was played during her service, which was held in our Rose Window Chapel. Every pew was filled and, by the end, tears flowed. They were tears of sadness at losing Sally but also tears of joy at remembering just how wonderful she was. And the video was played again at her reception at a nearby hotel.

I’ve seen many funeral ceremonies. I remember many of them, especially the special ones like Sally’s. These special ceremonies can be created whether the loved one is buried below ground, above ground or cremated.

I know Sally would have loved being at her funeral – we all felt she was there.

Always in Our Hearts

Cynthia Adair - Friday, December 13, 2013

Always in Our Hearts…

For the past two evenings Fairhaven held their annual holiday memorial service, Always in Our Hearts, a remembrance program dedicated to families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Every year we invite all our families to join us at this special service for a time of reflection to honor and cherish those they love. It is also an opportunity to connect with others who experienced a loss and understand that the holidays can be a difficult time for the bereaved.

“Isn’t it sad?" a friend asked me. 

Yes, the reason people attend is sad because it means they have lost someone they loved. However, the event itself is not sad, but touching and festive. It brings our emotions to the fore when we watch an entire family, a spouse, or a group of friends stand as they hear the name of their loved one read aloud. It  creates a sense of community rather than the loneliness that usually accompanies grief when the attendees watch the photo montage and see the pictures of those who are missed but never forgotten.  I think the bereaved find it encouraging to be reminded that they are not alone, that others have lost loved ones too and are facing the holiday without that special someone.

Randy Hill delivered a wonderful talk on having “Hope for the Holidays”, reminding us that even though the holidays can be sad after a loss, there is always something to celebrate. The names of the loved ones that people came to honor were read and a member of their family came forward to accept a memorial ornament. The program concluded with the singing of holiday songs, lead by guitarist Tim Ringgold. “Joy to the World” was the last song of the evening.

Our goal is to give each visitor a special time and place where they can find comfort and support. And so, my answer to my friend was, "No, it is not a sad event. It is filled with compassion and hope and is an evening to remember those who will be Always in Our Hearts."

Pastor Randy Hill concluded the evening with the poem "My First Christmas in Heaven" by Wanda Bencke.

I see the countless Christmas Trees around the world below
with tiny lights like Heaven's Stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christ with God this year.

I hear the many Christmas Songs that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare with the Christmas Choir up here.
I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me.
I see the pain inside your heart, but I am not so far away.
We are really not apart. So, be happy for me loved ones.
You know I hold you dear. Be glad I am spending Christmas
with God this year. I send you a special gift
from my heavenly home above. I send you each a memory of my undying love.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with God this year.

~ by Wanda Bencke
© Copyright 1999



Day of the Dead Celebration Coming!

Charity Gallardo - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary will host its Dia de los Muertos Service this Saturday, November 2nd at 4:00 pm at the North Gardens Pavilion.

Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is a celebration of the lives of those who have passed, honoring the dead with art, music, altars, and plenty of smiles. It is held on the 2nd of November when tradition says the souls of departed loved ones return to partake of the offerings (flowers, candles, food and drink) set out for them on ofrendas by families and friends. The Day of the Dead is considered a day of celebration, instead of mourning. 

Unlike, Halloween, there’s nothing ghoulish or macabre about this holiday. It is, above all, a thanksgiving of family ties and togetherness, as well as an experience of the seamless continuity of life and death. Often families spend the entire night together, enjoying their loved ones’ favorite foods and drinks and most importantly, remembering.

We look forward to many of our families joining us for this event. Our Remembrance and Celebration will include a memorial service conducted by Deacon Jerry de Santos & Deacon Gallardo from Our Lady of Pillar Catholic Church,  ofrendas, live music, and no Dia de los Muertos celebration is complete without the sharing of pan de muerto. Come join us on this memorable occasion to celebrate those we have lost and will never be forgotten.


Fairhaven Gets Involved!

Charity Gallardo - Monday, October 28, 2013

Fairhaven staff are not only committed to their jobs but to their community and worthwhile causes as well! In this collection of photos you'll see just how dedicated they are!

Fairhaven's Annual Flashlight Cemetery Tour



On the evening of October 24, 2013 Fairhaven hosted approximately 200 Explorers and other Youth Groups for a tour of Fairhaven Memorial Park by flashlight. This is an annual event with Explorer Clubs from all over the county who come, possibly thinking they may see ghosts. Instead, they learn a lot about the history of Orange County, since most of the Orange County Pioneers are buried at Fairhaven. Ruth Velez, from Fairhaven, gave the students some history of the park, to add to what the students learn about the famous people interred at Fairhaven. Lane Calvert, Director of High School Youth Programs for the Orange County Boy Scout Council and Past District Governor for the Orange County Rotary Club talked to the students about Exploring opportunities in the County. Staff  (from left to right - Floral Manager Edel Cabrera, Network Administrator Charity Gallardo and Service Director Gerald Ford) volunteered to conduct tours, give out cookies, hand out flashlights, and direct traffic.

Alzheimer's Walk at the District in Tustin


On Saturday morning October 26, the Fairhaven Family joined together to walk for the World without Alzheimer's. We had a table with candy and some gifts for some who came by (staff from left to right - Floral Manager Edel Cabrera, Family Service Counselor George Lopez, Family Mortuary Counselor Elizabeth Torres, Public Relations staff Sarah Yi, Fairhaven Memorial Services Counselor Jennette Sullivan and President Marla Noel) and enjoyed the walk around the District to support the cause. The Fairhaven Family raised over $3,000, and had fun walking as well. This is truly a family event, because it is a significant family concern for many of us. In one of the photos, where you see people holding flowers in the air, the flowers represented everyone who has been directly affected by this horrible disease. It was an impressive sight. 

President Marla Noel said, "I am proud that we had so many of the Fairhaven Family supporting such a significant cause."



Juvenile Diabetes Walk

The gathering was in support of author of the book The Savvy Diabetic, A Survival Guide. JoAnne Luafer Milo wrote from her heart, to help others who are plagued with this disease. The Irvine Rotary Club was there for her as well as many family and friends. "Despite this disease, JoAnne is one of the most upbeat people I know," professes Fairhaven President Marla Noel.

What's Shaking?

Charity Gallardo - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Everyone should know how to protect themselves in an earthquake. Today, the staff at Fairhaven participated in the "Great California Shake Out." Along with over 22 million people worldwide, Fairhaven employees conducted a one minute "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" earthquake drill.

Great Shake Out Earthquake Drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes and to improve preparedness. The 2013 California Shake Out is the largest earthquake drill ever! Now, Fairhaven's staff knows they are better prepared to survive a big earthquake!


Safety Coordinator Jon Searfoss under his desk with his earthquake whistle at the ready during the drill.


Vice President Omar Gallarzo gives a big thumbs up for safety during an earthquake!


Decedent Affairs Coordinator Robert Nethington shows us how to drop, cover and hold during an earthquake.

Unique Floral Arrangements Help Families Celebrate Loved Ones

Charity Gallardo - Thursday, October 03, 2013

When memorializing a loved one, it is so important to celebrate the attributes that made them unique; the one-of-a-kind passions and personality traits that set them apart as the building blocks that compose their legacy. Floral arrangements are one of the ways we at Fairhaven help families achieve this.

Meet our Floral Manager, Edel Cabrera.

Edel is not only passionate about flowers. He is passionate about using flowers to paint a distinctive portrait of an individual.

“When Fairhaven began offering families ways to personalize their services, it was the perfect opportunity for me to help families personalize their flower arrangements,” said Edel. “I began working directly with the families to really understand what they wanted and creating arrangements that were more than just the traditional standing sprays and baskets.”

From wreaths to casket pieces, Edel can work with any wish a family may have. We asked him to share with us the inspiration behind some of his beautiful floral creations: 

"The pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon was created in honor of a family's loved one who lost a battle against breast cancer."

“The soccer ball floral arrangement was tailored to memorialize a little league team soccer coach.”

"The casket piece and wreath were personalized with plants to honor the passing of a man who was passionate about gardening. Though plants are not typically used in flower arrangements, we made it work for the family."

“In this photo, you can see a unique creation—a guitar. The floral guitar was custom-made for a family who had lost their love one and had approached us with a picture of the guitar, which the man loved.”

“The cat in the basket full of red roses was made in honor of a woman who not only loved her cats, but loved growing her own roses.”

Through the creation of floral arrangements, Edel has successfully used his own passions to create inspiring arrangements that help families celebrate life. Not only does Edel love designing graphics and creating remarkable pieces, he cares about helping families during their hardest times. “If I can create something a family is hoping for, I know I am making this difficult time easier on them,” he says. “It feels really good when I get a call from a family member that just wants to say ‘thank you’.”

Caring for the Caregiver

Charity Gallardo - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Today, Fairhaven Memorial Park hosted our 3rd annual "Caring for the Caregiver" cruise event. Professional caregivers from all over Orange County joined us on The Ambassador as we cruised Newport Harbor for an afternoon of education, relaxation, and fun.

We had two wonderful presentations, the first by Tim Ringgold, a certified music therapist who explained "How to De-Stress with Music and How it Works" and by Fairhaven's own Marla Noel and Ruth Velez who presented on "Stress Management for Caregivers".

Over 50 attendees enjoyed earning continuing education credits while spending a beautiful Southern California day aboard a Pacific Avalon yacht.

The "Caring for the Caregiver" event is just one way Fairhaven partners with professional caregivers in the community to show our commitment to serving the families of Orange County before, during and after death.

Offering continuing education through special events like yesterday's cruise or our "Community Connections" classes are just a few ways we support caregivers and those within their care.

For more information, please visit us at www.fairhavenmemorial.com and like us on facebook.

Eternal Springs Cremation Garden

Charity Gallardo - Friday, September 13, 2013


We have officially broken ground on Eternal Springs, an expansion of the Santa Ana Memorial Park designed to provide a peaceful, contemporary environment for families to visit their loved ones and find comfort. The 3,800-square-foot cremation garden will employ a flowing stream, rustic bridges, lush landscaping and rock features to evoke the peace and tranquility of a mountain stream.

Central to Eternal Springs’ natural beauty will be the use of cremation boulders, which hold the remains of loved ones and serve as a memorial to their life. The boulders will be placed throughout the garden as a final resting place for families to visit.

The project, which will feature lush, water-efficient landscaping, includes the following features:

A flowing water feature spanning the entire length of the garden

Three bridges crossing the water feature composed of rocks to evoke memories of a mountain   stream

Abundant trees to offer shade, accompanied by shrubs and ground cover, with cremation   boulders placed amid the landscaping to create a strikingly natural look

Three park benches to offer a place of rest and reflection.

Eternal Springs, which is slated for completion in early 2014, will be located adjacent to the Bella Vista Mausoleums on the north side of the park. 

Celebrating Life is Always the Best Option

- Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our president, Marla Noel, shares how to memorialize loved ones who choose cremation

“You have options.”

This is the first thing we tell a family when they inform us that their loved one has asked for a cremation. One of the most common misconceptions among families is that cremation limits their options to memorialize and pay tribute to their loved one. This is simply not true. Cremation provides a vast array of opportunities to celebrate a life, including:

- A visitation with a viewing prior to the cremation process

- A full memorial service

- A ceremony that fulfills cultural rituals and traditions

- Traditional burial

- Family estates, where up to four family members can be buried together

Cremation options can also include cremation niches, ossuaries and even a peaceful garden resting place.

Whatever option you chose, it is most important to celebrate your loved one in a way that is unique to them and honors their legacy. Whether this is through a small and intimate gathering or a large ceremony, cremation means you still have an opportunity to have a truly creative and unique tribute to your loved one.

Memorialization is an essential part of the grieving process and provides the opportunity to fittingly say “goodbye” so the healing may begin. If your loved one has requested cremation, remember that you have many options available to you to give them the tribute they deserve. Never miss an opportunity to celebrate a life. 

Fairhaven Encourage Employees to Strive for the American Dream

Charity Gallardo - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Our Grounds Manager Jay Rodriguez and his crew were featured on the Fox 11 News on Friday. Jay inspires his crew by motivating them to get an education and helping them stay physically fit. He believes that encouraging them to do so will help them improve their lives and give them access to the American dream. This uplifting story captures how we serve from the heart, not only to our customers, but to our employees as well. Join us in congratulating Jay and his crew on their amazing story!


Recent Posts



    Recent Tweets