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.

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.

Fairhaven Affiliate Works With Mexican Consulate to Ship Loved Ones to Mexico

Cynthia Adair - Wednesday, September 03, 2014

For 19-year-old Giovanni Lopez* from Santa Ana, losing his stepmother was an unexpected tragedy. Recently married and already caring for his younger brother, gathering the information to fulfill his stepmother’s dying wish to be buried in her native country was overwhelming for Lopez. Wanting to ensure a smooth process to allow his family to grieve, Lopez sought support from Family Mortuary in Santa Ana. Several days later, Lopez’s stepmother arrived safely in Mexico, thanks to the experts at Family Mortuary who worked with the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana to compile the documents to meet all legal requirements for shipping a deceased loved one to another country.

For more than 17 years, Family Mortuary in Santa Ana has served Orange County families from a variety of cultures and religions. Along with its parent company Fairhaven Memorial Park, Family Mortuary continues the long tradition of providing customized funeral plans both at the time of need and through advanced planning.

“The added stress of shipping a loved one out of the country further complicates the process due to the many legal requirements and documents that are needed,” said Omar Gallarzo, vice president of Family Mortuary. “At Family Mortuary, we understand that the death of a loved one is never easy and we hope to help more families in their time of need so that they can heal and honor their loved one.”

As part of its extensive list of services, Family Mortuary specializes in international funeral shipping. In addition to assisting families in coordinating all aspects of transportation, Family Mortuary works with each consulate – from Mexico, Central and South America to the Philippines – to obtain all the necessary documentation required for shipment. If a language barrier exists, Family Mortuary helps translate and notarize documents, to make the process and transition as smooth as possible for each family it serves.

Lopez was grateful that he was able to fulfill his stepmother’s dying wish and appreciative of Family Mortuary for making the process of working with the Consulate so easy.

Additionally, Family Mortuary’s Public Relations Coordinator, Erika Rodriguez, was recognized by the Mexican Consulate at Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County’s (AAOC) Latino Caregiver Recognition Day for her work with AAOC and the Latino community.

*name was changed to protect family’s confidentiality 

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.

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’.”


Celebrating Life is Always the Best Option

Marla Noel - 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. 

Meet the Staff: Jerry Martinez

Cynthia Adair - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Not only does Jerry Martinez assist people with pre-planning their funerals, but he is also an author, speaker and self proclaimed romantic.  Retired from the aerospace industry, he is now a Family Service Counselor at Fairhaven Memorial Services in Mission Viejo and Family Mortuary in Santa Ana, but this is only part of his story. 

Jerry grew up hearing the stories of his ancestors. As he passed along those stories to his children and grandchildren, he decided to write a book telling the tale of his family, which was nicknamed, “The Leeche Clan.”

His first book Leeche de Coyote is a non-fiction retelling of his family’s long ancestry from España to Coyote, New Mexico where Jerry was born. Jerry’s grandson encouraged him to document his family’s story by writing the book and when asked about his grandson’s reaction to it being published, Jerry said that he “loved it!” and “was proud to be part of the “Leeche Clan.” Jerry also shared that he wished his mother had been able to read the book, as he believes she too would be proud of the published version of the Martinez history.

His second book, A Timely Conflict is a novel based on the life of Jerry’s great grandfather Luciana Herrera. Winner of the “Latino Books into Movies” award, A Timely Conflict combines historical facts, action and adventure with the love story between Luciana and Estella. When asked who he would like to portray his grandfather in a movie version, Jerry named Emilio Estevez as a possibility; and for the lovely Estella, Jerry would like that role to go to one of his nieces.

Jerry is currently collaborating with a friend on his autobiography and is planning a third book about another of his ancestors and their life story. He has promised to let his Fairhaven family know about any upcoming book signings and I, personally, cannot wait to read a Timely Conflict as Jerry would not give away the conclusion. I really want to find out how Luciana and Estella’s love story ends!

Jerry describes himself as a quintessential New Mexican and although he now lives in Orange County, he still considers Santa Fe his home. When he is not serving from his heart at Fairhaven or writing, Jerry lectures in Hispanic Studies at Soka University. He discusses a time in history when Santa Fe was without government and without religion and shares about the timely arrival of both.

Sitting down with Jerry was an enjoyable experience; he is articulate and passionate about his ancestral history as well as his own experiences. Jerry worked as a meat cutter during college. After graduating with an accounting degree, he went on to work at TRW as a program business manager. Jerry speaks favorably of the people he has met throughout his life and the impact they have had on who he is. He is a person who does not think back on his own life with any “I should haves,” but embraces the “I dids!”

It’s easy to see that Jerry, with his love of people, outgoing nature and service-oriented attitude, would be a perfect fit for Family Mortuary’s and Fairhaven Memorial Service’s pre-planning staff. 


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