Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

A Movie is Worth a Million Words

Marla Noel - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this day of technology, a movie is worth so much more. With the New Year upon us, creating a movie of your loved one may be the perfect way to commemorate his or her life, and a great way to capture memories that can be replayed for years to come.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to have a professional company videotape my parents. Initially, Mom and Dad were uncomfortable with this process. However, the woman, Mary Ann Osness from CorElAnn Video Productions spoke gently as she interviewed my parents, helping them to relax. She asked about where they grew up, how they met and many other questions.

During my father’s funeral service, we played the movie; my nephew read a eulogy; and my sister, niece and a few close friends spoke. I couldn’t have talked without sobbing, and didn’t try. After the service, many commented on how much they appreciated seeing the movie. The video of my father brought tears to everyone’s eyes and even a few chuckles when my father made humorous comments.

On the recording, my father talked about how he met – and courted – my mother. Few people in the audience knew what a true romantic my father was. He talked about a vacation we’d experienced and many other memories. My father talked for maybe ten wonderful minutes, which we shared with those who attended his funeral.

We will have this video of my father to show great-great-grandchildren someday, along with the pictures, of which there are many. But a movie with my father talking, his mannerisms, his voice, the way he used his hands to emphasize what he was saying and his sense of humor, is so much more meaningful. This movie is a precious memory.

I have suggested this type of movie to others. One of my friends who had just months to live came to me to pre-arrange her funeral. She followed my suggestion and made a movie with Mary Ann. In her video, she talked about so many things; about her vacations, her community involvement, and the many aspects of her life of which her children weren’t aware. She started several organizations and helped so many people. She was truly an inspiring woman. She did not brag or boast, but talked about the things she enjoyed.

The woman’s children were in their early twenties, too young for children of their own. They will be able to share her with their children and those who follow, because she knew how precious a movie would be for them. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie, so much more.

Touching Lives

Marla Noel - Friday, October 10, 2014

Last week, in my Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) meeting, we had the opportunity to tour the Make-A-Wish Foundation office in Irvine. During our tour, one of my fellow members noticed I was very quiet and asked me if I felt okay. I didn’t know how to react but then realized I had very conflicting feelings about the work this organization does.

As a mortuary, one of the saddest situations we witness is the loss of a child. It’s heartbreaking for all of our staff and I can’t imagine how the parents must feel. I guess this is what I was thinking as we toured the office of an organization whose purpose is to provide enrichment to a life that may end soon. People frequently ask me how I’m able to work in a mortuary – after my tour, I wondered how a person can sit with a child who may have months to live and figure out how to grant a wish. My job is easy in comparison; I don’t know how I would handle helping so many little ones face the reality of death.

There are many angels out there; those who work with sickness, those who work in hospice, and those who work in organizations like Make-A-Wish. We’re lucky there are people among us who have found their calling. I feel fortunate to know about the angels who work at the Make-A-Wish Foundation – they add so much hope, strength and joy to such young lives.

Celebrating Our Melting Pot

Marla Noel - Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Death is a part of all our lives. Whether we like it or not, it is bound to happen. Instead of avoiding thinking about it, it is better to understand its meaning. If from the beginning your attitude is 'Yes, death is part of our lives,' then it may be easier to face.” – Dalai Lama

As president of Fairhaven, I have the opportunity to witness funeral rituals from all around the world. Recently, one of our families held a Buddhist funeral here that touched me. I’d like to share my experience with you, to show how important it is for every family to celebrate a loved one in their own way.

It was a warm summer day and family members dressed in beautiful white cloth – symbolizing grief and seriousness – gathered around the body of their loved one. Guests dressed in black joined in to pay their respect. The family invited a monk who chanted to encourage the good energy to be released from the deceased, to allow the soul to detach itself from this life. The room filled with positive energy and a moving feeling of love. The family expressed their gratitude to guests in attendance with a red envelope containing a gift.

Although I’m not Buddhist, this experience stayed with me, as do many others. Families come to Fairhaven with heritages from a variety of cultures and religions with Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist and Hindu the most frequent. All of us at Fairhaven have learned about the beliefs of each culture and religion as this helps us serve each family with sensitivity during a very stressful time.

 

No matter what culture or religion a person associates with, I can see from first-hand observations here how important it is to memorialize a loved one and honor the life they’ve lived. Expressing grief is a difficult process, but doing so in your own way can help you and your loved ones find comfort in the rituals and traditions of your culture. I do appreciate the cultural melting pot we see here at Fairhaven and I’m honored I get to observe so many interesting and loving tributes.

More Than Your Neighborhood Memorial Park

Marla Noel - Friday, August 15, 2014

Memorial parks can offer families a place to celebrate and memorialize loved ones who are no longer with us – a chance to come together and reconnect with their loved one. 

At Fairhaven, families are presented with various opportunities to come together as a community. Neighbors are invited to visit our park to enjoy a picnic or read a book  under the lush trees whenever they choose. When Oliver Halsell created Fairhaven Memorial Park over 102 years ago, he shared his love for trees by planting so many different varieties from all over the world.

We also are happy to open Fairhaven to the public to enjoy the vast expanse of elegant, graceful trees through our programs and annual events. During the summer, we invite guests to bring blankets and snacks to enjoy our movies and concerts in the park with their families. During our holiday events, such as our sunrise Easter services and Memorial Day event, our park is filled with the sounds of music and laughter. Thousands attend to celebrate and enjoy our beautiful grounds.

We also offer “Explorer Tours” where we encourage schools to bring their students to learn more about the famous people buried here and how they helped to shape our community. We love sharing the rich history of Orange County with our guests, especially our community’s youth.


Come visit us on Saturday, August 16 for the last event in our summer entertainment series – a screening of “Stand By Me” under the stars.

For more than a century, Fairhaven has served Orange County families as though they were our own. We are happy to offer our beautiful surroundings to celebrate life and support families.

Click here for more info about Fairhaven’s events.

No Regrets, Please

Marla Noel - Friday, June 20, 2014

Regret. It’s one of life’s most uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, emotions. When we wish we had done something differently, but can’t go back and change it, we are likely to feel regret. In my position here at Fairhaven, I frequently encounter people that feel regretful. Perhaps most common is the feeling that they have not spent enough time with a loved one.

But another whole category of regret involves decisions people wish they had made earlier in life. For example, I encounter widows who wish they had taken time to understand their finances before their husbands passed away. I meet widowers who regret putting off trips they always talked about, but never found time to take before their wives became ill.  For some, the regret involves not moving to a retirement community, or just downsizing into a smaller, more manageable home. The list goes on and on.

The lesson learned here is that we should not wait too long to make decisions that will shape the last years of our lives. Perhaps the best time to evaluate these decisions is when retirement is looming. This is the time when questions need to be raised about what you -- as a couple or an individual -- want to do in the years ahead. Where will you live? Is your estate plan set? Will your heirs have a huge tax burden because you didn’t do enough estate planning? Are there trips on your bucket list? Are you working with advisors to guide your decisions -- an attorney, CPA and financial advisor?

Of course, I also hear regret related to not planning ahead for funerals.  People who take the time to talk among themselves, including with their adult children, are usually much less stressed when the time comes for the arrangements. Naturally, they are grieving, but much of the stress is gone.

Many people find it difficult to talk about death, especially their own. I’ve found that conversations about funeral pre-planning are naturally prompted by attending a funeral. Actually, any ceremony, even a wedding, can lead to these kinds of conversations. And these conversations are so useful, resolving issues such as do I want to have a ground burial, entombment or cremation? Do I want a large or intimate ceremony? Do I have a passion or hobby that can be added to the arrangements that fits my own personality? For example, I have a collection of fine wines and I’ve made it known I’d like the collection to be opened and enjoyed at my funeral. Without my planning in advance, I doubt anyone would know this was my intention. But now that I’ve planned, I’m sure my farewell will be the kind of party that I, personally, would enjoy – with friends and family swapping stories and fabulous wines  flowing. 

Whenever you are ready to consider funeral pre-planning, feel free to visit our website for a little help: http://www.fairhavenmemorial.com/learn/advance-planning.htm 

Eternal Springs Cremation Garden Opens at Fairhaven

Cynthia Adair - Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary announces the completion of Eternal Springs, a 3,800-square-foot cremation garden located on the north side of the memorial park. The project, which began in Sept. 2013, provides a serene and private atmosphere for families to visit their loved ones. The peaceful garden offers numerous cremation niches as well as a flowing stream, rustic bridges and beautiful landscaping.

“Keeping cherished memories close is so important to families who have lost loved ones, and we hope this new garden will help families to remember lovingly and find comfort during difficult times,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven Memorial Park. “Since more individuals are choosing cremation, Eternal Springs provides our families with a peaceful place to find a lasting memorial for their loved ones.”

Set against a peaceful backdrop of mosaic tiles depicting a waterfall, the garden features:

 - 175 cremation memorial stones placed throughout the garden to create a natural look

 - A stream flowing through the entire length of the garden with three bridges

 - Beautiful, water-efficient landscaping comprised of lush trees, various shrubs and assorted flowers

 - Three park benches to offer families a place of rest, reflection and comfort

Located next to the Bella Vista Mausoleums, Eternal Springs continues an expansion process that began in 2007 with Eternal Gardens and has Fairhaven Memorial Park spanning four acres of adjacent land across Fairhaven Avenue.

For more information, visit www.fairhavenmemorial.com or call 714-633-1442.

Helping Save Young Lives

Marla Noel - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The loss of a child is one of the most devastating experiences a parent can ever face. Feelings of anger, depression and guilt can be long-lasting – and all are normal emotions during the grieving process. Many parents feel they have a hole in their heart that will never heal, because they’ve lost a piece of themselves and their future is forever changed.

Unfortunately, each year, prom season brings up the painful issue of teens driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the unfortunate likelihood that this can cause unnecessary – and preventable – death. Deaths that result from drunk driving happen regularly, not just during prom season. But at this time of year, we see more occurrences and we are reminded of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, and the tragic deaths that can result from lack of focus behind the wheel.

That’s why high-risk prom season is an important time to raise awareness. Recently, Fairhaven took part in a public service program – and formed a partnership with the California Highway Patrol and Cornelia Connelly High School in Anaheim for the “Every 15 Minutes” program. The prevention and education campaign includes high school students reenacting a crashed car scene, a highly visual and shocking staged event with local law enforcement and emergency medical responders “treating” the injured as a crowd of students witnesses the dangers and consequences of driving impaired or distracted. Fairhaven assisted by transporting “fatalities” to our mortuary for identification by parents.

During the assembly that followed the mock crash scene and its aftermath, letters were shared from the “walking dead” students – emotional goodbye letters to their parents. One speaker also shared a special poem about the dangers of drinking and driving. Grief-stricken attendees watched in silence – moved by this life-changing and life-saving experience.   We can only hope the message was heard loud and clear – and that at least some tragic accidents, and deaths, were prevented.

Public service programs like this are powerful and are so important – we need to join together as a community to save lives this year, and every year. Unnecessary deaths can be prevented. At Fairhaven, we help families during their time of need. We hope public service programs, such as this one, can help prevent families from needing our services far too soon.  If you’re a parent of a teen, one way to help keep your child safe is by proactively opening a conversation about the dangers of distracted driving. Please, join us in spreading this important message. 

Beyond The Casket: Why Mass-Market Planning May Not Be the Best Option

Marla Noel - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When the time comes to say goodbye and honor a loved one, it’s never easy, especially when a death is unexpected. In such situations, families are often thrust into the harsh reality of having to make arrangements while still overwhelmed with the grief and sadness that accompany mourning the loss of a loved one.

At times, the emotional stress family members feel can be virtually unbearable, and the search for peace can be challenging. I’ve been in the funeral business for many years, and remain convinced that grief is a process people go through at various rates. It’s my belief that the grieving process is not something that can be sped up, but it can be eased, allowing the therapeutic effects of real healing to emerge with greater impact.

One way to deal with grief is to allow it to run its natural course. Family members should be fair to themselves and to one another.  They should allow for mourning. Far too often, however, I’ve seen families scurrying to make burial and other arrangements – logistical concerns that may be necessary and understandable, but don’t allow for much in the way of needed time for healing.

It may be wise to give some thought to funeral planning before the immediate need arises. Not only will you be able to address a challenging topic with great sensitivity, but you’ll do so free of the emotional turmoil that so often permeates the death of a loved one.

Clearly, planning a funeral is a complicated process – but it doesn’t have to be. Mortuaries strive to help families with the decisions and arrangements that make for a unique and meaningful remembrance. Every family’s budget and cultural traditions are different, and a trustworthy and reputable professional will make a world of difference during the grieving process. Be open with and trust your funeral director to help you make the right choice for your family, so you can focus on what’s important: reflecting and honoring the life of a loved one – as well as your own healing.

One of the many ways to honor a loved one is with an appropriate casket. I’ve noticed that some “big box” stores are suggesting the separation of a casket purchase from the rest of the funeral planning. They advertise this as some kind of cost-saver but it may actually complicate the funeral planning process. 

The casket is just one piece of a delicate puzzle and when chosen in isolation, it’s rarely a smart decision. And, contrary to the opinions of some, it’s not a more cost-effective option.

The biggest problem in buying a casket from a retail store is that the seller is not a funeral director knowledgeable about the care, preparation and burial or cremation of the deceased. He/she likely is not experienced in working with families to create the overall funeral experience. Often, retailers are not licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, which means less consumer protection for the purchase of these caskets.

I caution families about “ordering” funerals from a la carte menus. Each part of the process – from the casket and preparation, to the service and burial or cremation – needs to be developed together. It’s ideal when the process is pre-planned. But even families who must make decisions suddenly and quickly will do best by viewing the process holistically, not individual components to piece together.

In the end, saying goodbye is never easy. A meaningful service can help bring closure and comfort to a grieving family. Seek a warm and caring funeral director to help you create a perfect service. He or she understands the complexities of the funeral-planning process, which, when done correctly, can allow family and friends to celebrate and honor a loved one’s life.

A Very Special Goodbye

Marla Noel - 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.

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’.”



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