Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

Fairhaven's Día de los Muertos

- Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The celebration known as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, dates back hundreds of years. It is believed that November 2 is one of the few days a year when loved ones who have passed on are allowed to return and visit. Traditionally, loved ones create altars that include food, flowers, photos and articles that belonged to or had special meaning for the deceased.

This year more than 300 attendees filled North Gardens to participate in Fairhaven Memorial Park’s Día de los Muertos celebration and remembrance ceremony. In addition to the colorful altars on which families placed photos and mementos of their loved ones, the one-hour celebration included a brief history of the tradition and prayers by Deacon Luis Gallardo, with readings by Jorge Lopez, an Aztec offertory, mariachi music by Estrellas de Santa Ana and refreshments, which consisted of the traditional sweet bread, pan de muerto, and hot chocolate.

Those who attended were thankful for this addition to Fairhaven’s events and grateful for the opportunity to observe cultural traditions, honor loved ones and come together to celebrate as a community.

Fairhaven’s Family Service Counselors, Alicia Garcia and Jorge Lopez organized the event, from making the elaborate papier mâchè skulls to visiting community churches and businesses to promote the event, working hard to create a memorable service for our Fairhaven families in attendance. When asked how they felt the event went, both Alicia and Jorge said they were already planning how to improve next year’s event, which gives everyone something to look forward to next November 2!

Fairhaven Memorial Park's Flashlight Tour

- Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Thursday, October 25, as the sun begins to set, Orange County residents will gather at Fairhaven Memorial Park to participate in the 10th Annual “Flashlight Tour.”

The evening begins inside Fairhaven’s Waverley Chapel where guests are welcomed to the park. After a brief greeting, the participants separate into groups and are led off into the darkness by their tour guides for the evening. The tour lasts approximately one hour and includes areas of the park where participants learn about the different types of burial options, the history of the park, Waverley Chapel, and noteworthy families interred at Fairhaven. In addition, they will experience the diverse trees that make Fairhaven a registered arboretum as well as a peaceful and beautiful final resting place for Orange County families.

After the tour is finished and the flashlights turned off, guests will enjoy cookies and be able to spend time with Fairhaven’s expert tour guides, asking questions and finding out more information. Although there are rarely any ghostly specters or bumps in the dark, past participants always agree that it is a fun and informative night in the cemetery.

Historical Cemetery Tour at Fairhaven Memorial Park

- Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Every year the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society puts on a historical cemetery tour that takes place at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Santa Ana Cemetery. The tour highlights some of the history of the area by visiting the final resting places of local historic figures. At each site costumed actors play out scenes from interesting moments in Orange County’s past.

This year is the 15th year the society has put on this fun event! Some of the vignettes highlighting this year’s tour include:

-       The story of a grasshopper plague in the early 1870s (really!) and the indiscretions of the Anaheim newsman who reported about it.

-       A look at Prohibition in the 1920s by witnessing the stories of some of the accused as they stood before Judge Cox and tried to make the case for their innocence.

-       The commitment of the Orange County Register's editor (J. Frank Burke) to getting out the news of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake in spite of experiencing all the aftershocks in the process.

-       Register editor R. C. Hoiles defense of Japanese Americans during the internment of World War II.

-       How Leisure World came into existence (Ross Cortese)

The finale in the Mausoleum will be a review of radio stations, songs, and advertisements from the 1920s to the 1940s.

For more in depth information on the tour, a discount ticket flyer, videos of past tours, and pricing, please visit: http://www.santaanahistory.com/CemeteryTour.html or download the brochure HERE.

This year’s tour takes place on Saturday, October 20 from 10 am to 3 pm at Fairhaven Memorial Park, the event co-host. For more information visit the website link above or call 714-547-9645 (leave a message). You can also email tour@sahps.org.

Now Serving...Compassion

- Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's post is by Fairhaven Service Director Kristina Kindred. Every day, Kristina is on the front lines assisting families with their services and helping them within that context with whatever they may need to ease the loss of their loved one. She sees firsthand how grief affects people and how what we do at Fairhaven helps them through a difficult time. She truly understands and exemplifies Fairhaven's core values of integrity, fairness, compassion and excellence and applies them when working with families every day. ~ Charity Gallardo, Blog Coordinator

In the almost eleven years that I have been a licensed Embalmer and Funeral Service Director with Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary, I have met hundreds of people at a very difficult transitional time in their lives. Through these experiences, I developed my own personal mission statement when working with grieving families. As a Service Director, I strive to bring comfort and closure to my families by facilitating the funeral ceremony in a professional and thorough manner. I do this through coordinating and accommodating all types of funeral traditions with a heart and attitude of service.

Amongst the Directors, we have a saying, “Funerals are just like weddings… we only have one opportunity to make it perfect." In reality, we can get married many times, but usually we are only buried once as funerals are a one time affair. Creating the perfect service entails a few key areas that the Service Director must be diligent about.

Meeting with the Family Service Counselor to go over the families’ expectations and basic service details in regards to the funeral arrangement is always our first priority. We often discuss such aspects as the proper religious affiliation and funeral set-up, musical selections for preludes and postludes, whether there will be live music or pre-recorded cd, soloists or bagpipers. Will there be a DVD memorial presentation or video taping of the ceremony? Other important details that impact the flow of the service are Military Honors, memorabilia displays, guest speakers, reception invitations and processionals. All these things must be managed and coordinated in order for the service to run smoothly. Then there are the minute details of visiting the gravesite prior to the service to determine the best route and proper placement of floral tributes.

Each of these things may seem insignificant by themselves, but if you don’t properly identify ALL of the aspects of each service, and any single detail is out of whack, the family may be unintentionally dismayed. In this respect, all my efforts come down to making certain that each of my families are pleased with the ceremony that they have designed to honor their loved one and in turn helping them along their grief process.

Upon my first meeting with the family, I try to express my concern and offer my support. It’s common to feel awkward when trying to comfort those who are grieving. Many times it is difficult to find the right words, even in my position. I have often been asked by guests attending a funeral, “What is the right thing to say to the family?” I’ve learned that there is nothing we can say to make it all better; we can only be present to offer our support, a kind word or a sweet memory.

Not knowing the deceased or the family personally may seem problematic at first look but in all honesty, I feel as though it has been much more difficult to keep up professional appearances when directing a service for someone I know. We are not robots and on many occasions I have shed a tear during services for those that I have not known. My goal is always to make my family comfortable and I have found that the best way to accomplish this is by going over the order of service with the main family contact before the guests begin arriving. This way, I can make any necessary changes and put our family at ease. Knowing the series of events and how they are going to happen is the best way to relieve the stress associated with the planning and execution of the funeral ceremony.

After quickly breaking down the service it is important to ask the family if there is anything else we can do for them. I offer simple things like a bottle of water, a box of tissues or give out the location of the restroom facilities. These simple gestures can easily make an enormous difference to someone experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions associated with the grief process.

 Helping our families to arrange the memorabilia displays that have become so popular in the last few years is probably the highlight of my work. Looking through the photo collages and memorial DVD presentations along with the particular items that the family has selected to memorialize their beloved helps us to get to know our guest of honor in a small way. On occasion, these items have been unusual and extremely large. We have displayed giant 10 foot tall framed collage of decades old love letters from the World War I era. I’ve helped to guide a top fuel dragster through the side doors of our chapel to display in front of the casket. But the largest and most memorable item I have personally assisted in displaying had to be an entire life size hang glider inside of our Waverley Chapel. The hang glider was the epitome of their loved one’s adventurous life. It was very important for it to be present at the service so measurements were taken, logistics discussed and a team of friends carried in and re-built the hang glider inside our chapel. All of the guests were shocked and amazed to see the actual glider in all of its glory right in front of them.

At the conclusion of this service, as the Director, I had to go forward to the podium to make several important announcements and begin the dismissal. The wing of the glider protruded into the sound booth and essentially blockaded me inside this area. There was no way around it as I needed to operate the DVD system to show a memorial video which included wonderful home videos of the adventurer and hang glider in flight.

When the time came to make the necessary announcements, in front of an overflowing crowd of more than two hundred attendees, I got down on my hands and knees and crawled underneath the wing of the hang glider with as much dignity as I could muster. I stood up and paused to re-adjust my jacket and unexpectedly received a raucous round of applause for my efforts. During the dismissal, many of the guests sought me out to express their appreciation and how much it meant to them to be a part of such an unforgettable memorial service for their friend and loved one. After the glider had been taken apart and hauled away, and all the guests had departed, the family expressed to me how pleased they were with all that we had done for them and thanked me with hugs all around.

Sometimes I still gauge the satisfaction of my families on whether they want to hug me or not. I know not all folks are huggers and many of my friends will tell you that I am not considered a “hugger”, but in our line of work, often a hug is the simplest expression of support or gratitude. Essentially, doing my job to the best of my abilities by creating the perfect service is the way I can make an impact in the lives of our families and help them along their journey through the grief process.

Taking Back the Holidays -by Cynthia Adair

- Friday, November 25, 2011

The first year after the loss of a loved one is the most difficult…it is a year of “firsts”…the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first birthday, without that person.

The first year after the loss of my mother we struggled to maintain family traditions…my sister and I tried our best to recreate the holidays that my mother loved so much…but without her there, they seemed lacking.

The next year was a little better…as we began to combine the best of my mother’s customs with some of our own…this was the year we added Blue cheese and bacon to the Thanksgiving mash potatoes and had Mimosas on Christmas morning.

This past year we were able to find humor in remembering things my mother did…her 4th of July themed tables and the jars of peanuts she put in our stockings. My sister and I can now laugh at each other as we are “becoming our mother”…I show up at her house with dessert and always bring holiday plates and napkins even though I know she has a stockpile of them from years past and she puts labels in the dishes on the Thanksgiving table so we know what to put where…and both of these things are exactly what my mother did.

I know that there are things that we will always do…things just like our mother did…but now the holidays are once again a time to celebrate as well as to remember.

This year as my family gets together…we will be embracing our old traditions and incorporating some new ones…there will be good food, family, and lots of laughter…as those are the things my mother loved best about the holidays!

The Hummingbird by Cynthia Adair

- Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It must have been a couple of weeks after my mother passed away when I first saw a Hummingbird. It hovered in my backyard, not just passing through but staying there for quite some time.


A few days later, I was taking a walk and along the way a hummingbird was once again there to keep me company.  I should at this point mention, along with Straus Waltzes, hydrangeas, club sandwiches, and the color purple, hummingbirds were among the list of my mother’s favorite things. Needless to say these first few hummingbird sightings were the beginning of many more to come. There were times when I would be outside and actually thinking about her when a hummingbird would appear out of nowhere and stay for a while.  After about a year of this, I finally confessed the hummingbird visits to my siblings, who both shared similar stories.


It’s now been 4 years since the loss of my mother, but because of these experiences, I think of her every time I see a hummingbird and it always makes me smile. Although missing her is now a permanent part of who I am, I feel especially close to her when I see a hummingbird. I would like to think it may be her way of visiting and letting me know she was thinking of me.



Funeral Planning, Your Budget, and You

- Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For many families, the need to plan a funeral comes unexpectedly. Complex decisions must be made at a most difficult time, and the cost of funeral services plays a large role in the planning process. Not surprisingly, most people are under the impression that funeral services cost more than they really do.

How much does a funeral actually cost?  What is a reasonable price range for a dignified, appropriate tribute for the person who has died?

No two funerals are alike, and your personal preferences might make the cost higher (or lower) than average. Overall, your final cost will be determined by three important considerations:

1. The services you select

2. The cost of caskets, vaults, urns and other items

3. Clergy, honorarium, obituary costs, flowers and other incidentals that can add to the services.

We offer many services that help make a funeral a personalized, dignified and healing experience. Some families choose one or two of these, while others choose more. You might prefer a traditional funeral, or an alternative type of service. Memorial services are available at our funeral home, or at a place that has special meaning. There are choices concerning burial or other forms of interment, including cremation. Your decisions will determine the final cost, but you may be assured that we will give you detailed estimates for any of the options you choose.

The funeral products we make available give you a wide range of choices in style, and in price. Your tastes may lean toward simplicity, or something more elaborate. For example, if you choose a traditional funeral with interment, you will need to purchase a burial vault and casket.  Families who prefer cremation will usually purchase an urn to hold the cremated remains. These may then be retained, interred, scattered, or placed in a columbarium niche. Various costs are associated with each of these options.

If you have preplanned the funeral, the choices we have discussed above will already be made, and you will have received a complete list of all costs involved. For this reason, we encourage families to consider funeral preplanning, because you will make these important decisions at your leisure, when you have time to reflect on just the kind of funeral you want, and just how much you wish to pay. Prepaying the funeral service also protects your family from those unanticipated expenses we mentioned earlier.

How much does a funeral really cost? To assist in your planning, we can provide a list of prices for many of the basic services that most families select. Please be assured that we welcome your questions about our services and prices. Do not hesitate to discuss funeral costs with us. We believe you have a right to know exactly what costs are involved in the services you choose.

What Would Your Funeral Look Like

- Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I know that people tend to plan their funeral in advance when they have been to a good funeral or a very bad funeral. Yes, there is such a thing as a bad funeral. Not the right things done, said, planned.

I remember sitting with a family once and the minister asked if the family had any words they wanted to say about their loved one. No one had planned what to say and therefore no one got up to speak. I knew that there was much to say about this man who had lived a full life and was deeply loved by his family. His death was unexpected and they were not prepared. They did not know what he wanted for a funeral.

I have seen many great funerals where families came together and used what the decedent had planned or had the ability to focus on creating a great funeral. There is no one way to define a great funeral.  A quiet person who does not like parties and does not socialize much would not typically plan a funeral with loud music and a reception afterward. I, on the other hand, would like Led Zeppelin, a bag piper, a dove release, Good and Plenties (my favorite candy) and a reception with a lot of wine at my funeral. And, by the way, I've written some of my Eulogy. Hopefully, there will be much more added.

I encourage everyone to write down their wishes and let their family know what they want. You can pay for the funeral in advance. Typically funeral homes will help you with this and help you put the money in either a trust or funeral insurance. Set aside pictures that you would like people to see at the funeral and let people know what kind of music you want. Planning your funeral will help your family and make difficult choices much easier.

The Funeral Planning Guide by Marla J. Noel

- Monday, June 27, 2011

We recognize the significance of planning a funeral after the loss of a loved one. Someone you love has died. You may be feeling sad, angry, empty or numb. Despite these normal and natural feelings, you are now faced with planning a funeral or gathering that will be meaningful to your family. Our mission is to assist you and your family during this difficult time by providing you with some information, some ideas and some suggestions for ways to create a meaningful final tribute to your loved one.


There are three separate parts of a funeral arrangement; The collection of vital statistical information that will be used to complete the death certificate, the creation of the funeral service or gathering and the selection of a final resting place or a lasting memorialization. One of our Family Service Counselors will meet with you during the arrangement conference and guide you through the many decisions that will have to be made. The arrangements typically take two to three hours unless arrangements have been made in advance of need.


The California Department of Consumer Affairs has put together a pamphlet regarding funeral and cemetery planning. The pamphlet was designed to help you understand the funeral process and terminology so that you may make informed decisions relating to your funeral arrangements.


Funeral ceremonies help us begin to heal. They are the first step in the bereavement process. It is important to recognize that funerals are for the living. The funeral declares that a death has occurred. It commemorates the life that has been lived, and offers family and friends the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.


A well-planned funeral service captures the living essence of one who has died. We have compiled a list of suggestions that will aid you in focusing on those things that your loved one cherished throughout their life. A review of these items may help you to remember meaningful symbols that can be included to personalize the funeral service in remembrance of your loved one.


©  Put together photos of your loved one. This may be done at the visitation or at home at a family gathering. We have a photo board, where those pictures may be placed for the funeral service. If you would like to put photos together permanently, a poster board may be used for this occasion.

©  Play the favorite music of your loved one at the visitation, funeral service or at a family gathering.

© Have your family members write down their fondest memories or the funniest moments, or the most painful memories of your loved one. The memories may be talked about at a family gathering or documented in a memorial folder or a memorial book.

© Write a letter or a poem to your loved one to say goodbye. Place the letter in the casket to be buried or cremated, whichever you have selected.

© If your loved one had a favorite cologne, bring a bottle in for the visitation and spray the cologne on your loved one for final disposition.


© If there are young children or grandchildren, have them make farewell cards to place inside the casket.

 © Put together mementos that represent a favorite sport or hobby of your loved one to be placed on a memorial table at the visitation or the service.

© Have a video made from the pictures that you have gathered and have them coordinated with your loved one's favorite music.

© Ask several people to share their memories during the ceremony. This may be done formally by having three or four people speak in succession at the podium - or informally by asking those attending the funeral to stand up and share memories spontaneously.

© For those with a sweet tooth, hand out your loved one's favorite candy at the visitation or the funeral service.


These are all suggestions that may help you and your family to say good-bye. We have listed some questions below that should assist you in determining some meaningful additions to a funeral service.


Please indicate some of the unique qualities of your loved one.

Favorite Sports Activities or Hobby: __________________________________

Favorite Book: _________________________________________________

Favorite Music: __________________________________________________

Favorite Television Show:___________________________________________

Favorite Movie:_________________________________________________

Favorite Flower:________________________________________________

Is there a saying that your loved one frequently used?  ______________________

Some people have a favorite hat, pair of shoes, jacket, etc. Is there an article of clothing that your loved one was known for wearing or being seen in?




What are your fondest and most cherished memories of your loved one?

Answering these questions will help with the service, with the eulogy, with the obituary and with the way the service is arranged. We hope this helps you. If you have suggestions for others please send them in the comments, so that they may be shared.



Why Preplan The Funeral Ceremony

- Wednesday, May 11, 2011

            There are many ways to respond to the loss of a loved one. In almost every culture, ceremony is an important part of recognizing the loss and beginning the grieving process. The ceremony that helps to remember and honor that person can be healing to the loved ones, the family and friends of the deceased. I have heard so many say that they do not want a funeral, “Don’t make it a bother for anyone,” they would say and shake their heads. When I hear this, I shake my head. I will tell them what I told my mother, “The funeral is not for you, it is for the loved ones left behind.” It is important to make a funeral like the person; If they are quiet people, how would you best remember them? If they are a loud and boisterous person, how should you remember them? You shrug your shoulders. What would they want?

            Because we are all going to experience the inevitable, we could write down our wishes, honestly, thinking of the family and friends left behind. One of the best funerals I ever went to was the mother of a co-worker. Yes, he was a funeral director, but he confessed, his mother not only prepared her own funeral, but she updated it occasionally, changing this detail and that. It was a superb service. I never met the woman, however, I could support my co-worker, and attend the service. At the end of the service, I knew him better by learning about his mother. I found a new appreciation of him because of what I had learned about his mother. We all have the choice to preplan, at any age, and like this friend’s mother, we can update our plans every now and then. This is not an obsession with death, unless you work on your funeral once a week. It is pragmatic to check your funeral plan once a year, like your will or your insurance policies.

            You have the ability to plan your last ceremony. I find that people most likely think about planning their funeral after they have been to a very good funeral or a very bad funeral. Don’t let your very bad funeral be the reason for someone else to preplan. Write your wishes down on paper. Write out a brief or lengthy eulogy, whatever you want, but write it down, so that others do not have to imagine what you might have wanted.

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