Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

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

- 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. 

What's Our Real Legacy?

Charity Gallardo - Monday, March 04, 2013

Guest blogger Jane Shafron talks about the value of family stories

We spend a lot of time worrying about money, don't we? First, do we have enough for ourselves? Should we work more or work longer; are we saving enough; can we afford that trip; and how much should we spend on ourselves and on gifts?

Later, the questions change. We start to reflect on our mortality and our legacy and we think about preplanning for the inevitable. Have we made our funeral or memorial arrangements; do we have our wills and estate plans in place? And how much will we be leaving to the children and grandchildren? Very often these are dollar and cents questions.

But is money our greatest and most important legacy?

According to a major study by the Allianz Life Insurance Company, money is not our greatest legacy. And it’s not just Allianz who is telling us this, it's us! During the course of last year, Allianz commissioned the 2012 “American Legacies Pulse Study” - an update of their groundbreaking 2005 study. The results may surprise you – they certainly surprised me.

It turns out that money is not our greatest legacy:

Eighty-six percent of “baby boomers” (age 47-66) and 74 percent of “elders” (age 72 and older) said that family stories are the most important aspect of their legacy. Family stories! Money and the passing of personal possessions are still important, but less so: 64 percent of baby boomers and 58 percent of elders checked that box.

This echoes the findings in 2005, with 77 percent of both boomers and elders citing the importance of family values and life lessons as the most important part of their legacy.

Hmm. Stories. They don't cost much. But do the kids really agree? Don't the children have an expectation of being taken care of – at least a little bit? Not according to the Allianz study.

Of more than a thousand people surveyed, only 4% of the (adult) children said they felt they were owed an inheritance. (Actually, it’s their parents who put the pressure on themselves here: 14% of the parents said they felt the owed their children an inheritance.)

Family stories help the children and grandchildren get to know us just a bit when we were young – getting things right and (even better) getting things wrong; family stories that are funny or serious; family stories which contain lessons or wisdom or history. Family stories humanize us and the kids – especially when they have grown up themselves – value them more and more.

Let's all try a bit harder to preserve our stories.

Kids, take the time to question and listen – don't just arrive in time for the turkey then settle in front of the flat screen for the big game. Come early and help with the preparation and learn the traditions. Parents, make time and create opportunities to reflect and pass on some of your history – and try not to lecture or judge (hard I know - for me anyway!).

It turns out our greatest legacy is not our money; it is ourselves – passed on to our children and our grandchildren through our time and our stories.

Guest blogger Jane Shafron is a video biographer who co-founded Your Story Here Family History Video - a video production company that specializes in preserving personal and family history. Based in Orange County CA, her award-winning films have been screened in festivals in the United States and Canada. Jane is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Personal Historians and regularly writes to her blog Video Biography Central. She can be contacted on 949-742-2755 or through her website.

Fairhaven’s Hope for the Holidays Remembrance Programs

Charity Gallardo - Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fourteen years ago, Fairhaven started Hope for the Holidays, an annual remembrance program to honor the families we serve and to recognize that the holidays are an especially difficult time after the loss of a loved one. Fairhaven’s two locations, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo, will be hosting Hope for the Holidays Remembrance Programs in December. Families are encouraged to submit photos of their loved ones for Fairhaven’s Memory Tree (either by mail or in-person), and each family will receive a beautiful keepsake ornament during the ceremony.

Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana is hosting remembrance services on December 12 and December 13 at 7pm in Waverley Chapel. The theme is “Always in our Hearts” and the evenings will include Pastor Randy Hill from Hope for Healing Hearts Ministries, music by harpist Toni Destro and a video montage. For more information about the Santa Ana services, please visit our Community Events Calendar.

Fairhaven Memorial Services in Mission Viejo is hosting its remembrance service on December 11 at 7pm in the Chapel. The theme is “Cherished Memories” and the evening will include Pastor Mike Foell from Mission Hills Community Church, music by Ernesto Ale and a video montage. For more information about the Santa Ana services, please visit our Community Events Calendar

Ease Your Grief Online

Charity Gallardo - Friday, January 06, 2012

You've suffered the loss of a loved one. Your friends and family are well meaning, but maybe you need some more private help, something you can do on your own to help cope. Here's a list of ten things you can do online to help ease your grief.

 1. Light a candle to your loved one at gratefulness.org.

2. Create a memorial web page.

3. Join an online grief club or support group or community.

4. Search for a local grief support group.

5. Search for books on grief: Amazon's Top Grief Books.

6. Create a memorial video to be viewed online.

7. View videos about coping with grief. 8. Join a Facebook grief group.

9. Chat with others in a grief chatroom.

10. Write about your loved one in a blog post or journal or subscribe to a blog that talks about loss and grief.

Not everything you do to ease your grief has to be public or shared with your family and friends. There are many things you can do privately, on your own with the help of your computer and the internet. You can find resources and answers to your questions as well as find out how other people cope with losing a loved one. Hopefully, the links here can help you in your time of need.    

When a Co-Worker Dies

Charity Gallardo - Friday, December 30, 2011

Today’s post is by Lou Carlson, who has been a Family Service Counselor at Fairhaven Memorial Park for twenty years.

Dell Eastman had worked at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary for 20 years when I met him. He had begun work as a cemetery salesman, and when the mortuary was built be continued to serve families as an arrangement counselor. He had a warm and engaging smile, kind of bulgy eyes and he walked with a slight limp from years of standing and waiting (we do that a lot in cemetery service!). But he was a wonderful conversationalist because he asked questions. He wanted to know about you, he was genuinely interested in your life and story.

Dell had retired after 20 years. He thought he would enjoy life, relaxing at home. His wife, Ann, however had very different ideas and gave Dell a “honey-do” list every day. The list always included sweeping the garage floor and the front porch. (Dell detested pushing a broom!!) Dell returned to Fairhaven employment in less than a year!! He worked another ten years before he finally retired “for good”.

For ten years, after he returned to work, I watched Dell, who was now serving families as a service director. He was patient, courteous, polite and careful. We talked over lunch in the employee break room, at graveside services as we waited for the family to arrive and at the Elks Club, when Dell took me to lunch there. And most days, Dell came into my office (when I was not with a family) to chat. We became good friends. He had many friends at Fairhaven Memorial Park and in the community where he lived.

Then, a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen Dell for a while. I shrugged it off assuming that he might be visiting family, or something. I thought I’d drive by his home (he lives very near me) and see how he was doing. But I didn’t do it. I ignored the quiet voice in my heart that told me to visit him.

On Sunday, the phone rang at my home. Dell had died.

I was shocked, grieved at the death of a long time friend and guilty that I had not tried to visit him. If I had driven by his house I would have discovered that he was hospitalized, then in a nursing home, where he died. I was most saddened to learn that almost no one knew of his health situation, or had visited him during his last days and hours on earth.

Dell had asked me to officiate at his wife’s funeral a few years ago. After the services, he asked me to do the same thing at his (future) services, and I agreed. Twice at lunch at the Elks Club and once in my office, I interviewed Dell about his life. He told me his life story, he told me about Ann and their love, he told me about his military service in the Pacific theater of World War II, he shared many stories about serving families at funerals and of his love for California Lottery “Scratchers” (he bought many of them every day!!). And, he gave me a little gift. It was a card that read:

‘“A hug is the perfect gift – one size fits all and nobody minds if you exchange it.” (Ivern Ball)…. Dell Eastman.’

The staff atFairhaven, all who knew Dell, were stricken at the news of his passing. The ladies remembered Dell’s hugs – he loved to hug people (especially the ladies!). He was one of our own, and now, instead of standing beside the casket of a client, he was in his own casket. He was neatly dressed and looking younger than I had seen him in years. But the smile was gone, his eyes were closed, his hands were folded over his lap, his voice was stilled. Our co-worker, our friend was gone. Thousands of families whom he had served, had lost a memorable funeral counselor and service director. And we had all lost a dear friend.

At his funeral I told the story of his life, recounted his exploits during WWII, shared his love for Ann and gave everyone a personal copy of Dell’s “hug card”. Then, as the service ended, I asked the service directors to give to every guest a Lottery “Scratcher” card. It seemed a fitting way to conclude the services for a friend who had changed our lives with his smile, his hugs and his servant’s heart.

But Fairhaven Memorial Park will never be the same without him. Since his passing I have seen small groups of staff chatting about Dell, sharing memories and funny stories about him, wondering how many people remember him and how many staff never met him. Some were surprised, even shocked to learn that he had died. They had seen him recently – he seemed so well!!

There were some tears, some hugs and a quiet time.

All who work at a funeral home must deal with death and dying, directly or indirectly every day. We serve a mourning community. But it is in moments like these, when we must live through the death of a valued colleague, that we discover again how valuable our friends and family are. And how vulnerable we are to the emotions of grief and loss, when a co-worker dies.

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.



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.



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