How do we want to remember our loved ones? How do we want to be remembered ourselves? What are the puzzle pieces that will create a full picture of a life well lived and a sense of celebration in memory?
That’s the question behind a new program at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, a division of Dignity Memorial, called Life Well Celebrated.
“We talk with every family when they came in, to find out what’s important to them – what will help personalize the service, what will make it a valuable time, what will help them through the full process, and how do we create something that is as individual as the person,” said Andrew Knapman, manager at Forest Lawn. “It’s really about helping families find meaning, to help them share more of who that person was, and to celebrate that life.”
Knapman notes that they are able to provide a wide variety of services and options, ranging from more traditional, spiritual, or religious ceremonies, to more secular memorials and celebrations of life.
“There’s really a spectrum of options, depending on what’s important to people,” he said. “But ultimately we want to help people find meaning – these are often life-changing times, sometimes unexpected. It’s critical to us that we help people through that in the way that will work the best for them.”
For Knapman and his team, that goes far beyond the final details and begins as soon as people contact them.
“We want them to feel comfortable and supported from the very start,” he said.
That means having compassionate, caring and knowledgeable staff, but it also includes creating systems that help make the process easier to navigate. This year, they have implemented a new program in which families can see, on a large video screen, what kinds of options and possibilities are available, while discussing it.
“It seems like a small thing but it can be a challenging time, so to be able to give them all of the pertinent information, so that they can really see and experience what their options are, can help people make decisions more easily, which makes it less stressful,” he said.
To that end, Knapman also notes that there is a steady increase in the number of people who make prearrangement plans for themselves.
“Often it is people who have themselves had to make arrangements for a loved one and they realize how valuable it would have been to have plans in place, and they begin to think about what they want for themselves,” he said. “We have pre-planning advisers who work much as a funeral director does, but in advance, when no one is grieving, and they can think about what their wishes are.”
Forest Lawn Funeral Home was established in 1965 as a chapel located in the centre of the cemetery grounds, adjacent to Royal Oak Avenue. A funeral home was added to the site in the late ’70s; several years ago, the facility received a major renovation to upgrade the building and interior.
The area is known for its peaceful setting – sloping lawns, greenery, and quiet beauty – along with a central location for ease of visiting.
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