Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery

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Turning a Guestbook into a Work of Art

At a funeral or memorial ceremony, the guestbook is an important record of the day. It lets you look back and see who was there on this significant occasion, gives guests a small way to participate in the ceremony, and creates a memento for your family to treasure. It doesn’t have to be a book, and with some creative thinking, you can make it into a meaningful keepsake.

There are a wealth of artistic ways to make a guestbook:

  • Create a tree of life. You can find templates for a trunk with branches, and guests will sign their names on leaves that they then glue to the tree. This creates a unique memento that can be framed or kept in a scrapbook.

  • Frame hearts in a shadowbox. Have each guest sign a wooden heart, which you’ll later mount inside a shadowbox.

  • Allow guests to sign the mat around a photo. A cherished photo of your loved one becomes a memorial keepsake when surrounded by the signatures of friends and family.

  • A thumbprint guestbook can be unique and colorful. Provide a piece of paper, perhaps with an image on it, and have guests embellish it with their finger or thumbprints. The image might be a tree trunk with branches, strings in need of balloons, or a garden of stemless flowers. Using colored stamp pads, the guests complete the picture, which can then be framed.

  • Birch tags have a striking look. Once signed, they can be hung on a simple memorial tree.

  • Wishing rocks can be kept in a bowl or used in a flower or garden. If you’re going to be using them outside or in water, make sure they are signed with the right kind of weatherproof paint.

  • Memorial quilt squares make a long-lasting keepsake. If quilting is a hobby for you or another family member, the funeral or memorial service is a wonderful place to collect squares. In addition to a signature, guests can embellish fabric scraps with warm sentiments or brief memories.

Creating the perfect guestbook to fit the personality of the person being honored is just one more way to customize a funeral to celebrate the life that was lived.

At Evergreen, we believe in designing ceremonies as unique as your life. We’ll make suggestions to enhance the tribute ideas you already have so that together we can make the event truly memorable. Call us at 520.257.4831 for more information, or visit our Honoring Life page for ideas about what’s possible.

Planning a Funeral: Embrace These Three Essentials

When you’re planning a funeral, it’s easy to tick off the big boxes and ignore the little details. This can be a mistake, because the little things are often what makes a service most memorable. Here are three things to embrace when you’re in charge of the funeral arrangements:

  • Opt for guestbooks, both in person and online. A funeral guest book is ideal for collecting the names of attendees, but it can be much more than that. Providing space for comments allows people to write down memories of your loved one that you can read later and treasure. Online guest books are also a wonderful way to connect, allowing people to share their feelings with you for years after the funeral is over. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A guestbook can be a tree of life painting embellished with the thumbprints of all the guests or a memorial quilt made of fabric squares signed at the funeral. Think of your loved one’s unique personality, and find a way to customize the guestbook to fit it.
  • Memorial imagery can be extremely meaningful. Framed photos of your loved one, memorial photo albums or a DVD slideshow or video can stir fond memories. You can even place photos in an interactive display, perhaps in a mat that guests can sign.
  • A video of the service lets you share this significant day. Some people may not make it to the funeral, even if they sincerely want to be there. They can feel connected, though, by watching a video of the service. You can also have the video as a reminder of the love and support shown on the day.

Some of the memories made on the day of the funeral will last a lifetime. At Evergreen Mortuary, we’ve been serving families in our community since 1974, and we understand the importance of creating a healing experience that celebrates your loved one’s unique life. Let our funeral professionals guide you through the process, helping you find exactly the right little details to honor that life in a meaningful way. Call 520.257.4831 to learn more about all we have to offer.

When Your Loved One Didn't Want a Funeral

When a loved one dies, it’s traditional to honor their memory with a funeral or memorial service. Sometimes, though, a person really does not want a funeral. This can leave those left behind feeling a lack of closure that can impede the grieving process. If you want to respect your loved one’s wishes about not having a funeral but still want to find a way to honor his or her life, there are many ways to do so.

  • Write an obituary for the local paper. By sitting down to think about your loved one’s life and accomplishments, you’ve already honored his or her memory. Sharing the story with the community is another important way for you to begin processing your grief. The obituary doesn’t have to be solemn or traditional; some of the most meaningful obituaries reflect the person’s life, sometimes exhibiting a bit of irreverence along the way.
  • Take up one of your loved one’s hobbies. Whether it was cooking, salsa dancing, knitting, golf, tennis or scrapbooking, doing something your loved one enjoyed can make you feel closer to that person. If the hobby is also a handicraft, learning that skill can also build your loved one’s legacy.
  • Make your own small memorial to the person who has died. Assemble favorite photos and trinkets with a candle, and light the candle every time you think about your loved one. When you light it, spend a few moments of quiet reflection.
  • Create an online tribute. An online tribute to your loved one can include an obituary, photos and even a guestbook so that people can share their condolences and memories of the person who has died.
  • Donate to a favorite cause. Is there something about which your loved one was truly passionate? Giving your time and money to support that cause is a good way to honor his or her memory.
  • Host a small gathering in your loved one’s honor. Maybe your loved one didn’t want a funeral, but that doesn’t mean people can’t gather to remember. An intimate gathering of family and friends can give people the opportunity to share stories, reminisce, and begin to process their grief.
  • Make a pilgrimage to places that were important in your loved one’s life. Sometimes, a road trip can be cathartic. Traveling to places that held a special significance for someone can help you understand that person better. Especially when shared with someone else who loved the person who has died, such a trip can be life-affirming as you remember and create new memories.

You can skip the funeral service in order to respect a loved one’s wish, but remember that funerals can actually help the healing begin. More of a boon to the living, they can be a place to remember, connect and begin to move on with life. Whether or not you want to have a funeral, Evergreen Cemetery and Mortuary can help you make your loved one’s final arrangements. Call (520) 399-6652 to learn more.

Teaching Children about Death

When a loved one dies, it can be very difficult to process, even for adults. Many parents find it especially hard to talk to their children about death. It’s uncomfortable and you might not even know where to start, but death is a natural part of life’s journey — and if you explain it to children simply and with sensitivity, you can help them process the information in a healthy way.

First, don’t assume your child doesn’t already know about death. Even before they experience the death of a beloved relative or cherished pet, they see dead bugs, dead flowers and other indications that living things don’t last forever. Fairy tales touch on death, as well. Children have a wonderful natural curiosity that leads them to be inquisitive about the world around them, and it’s important to tell them the truth so that they don’t have misconceptions that may prove damaging.

When you talk to a child about death, use simple language.

  • Don’t speak in euphemisms, which can lead to confusion. Saying someone “has gone away” or “fallen asleep” may seem like a good way to soften the blow, but in fact, it can cause children to become anxious. They might worry when a parent goes on a business trip that he or she will not return, or they might fear that they’ll fall asleep themselves and never awaken.
  • Explain death simply. Tell the child that when someone dies, the body stops working. The person’s heart stops beating, and he or she no longer breathes. Explain that death is irreversible and that the person is no longer in the body.
  • Listen to the child, taking cues as to readiness and answering questions. Don’t go into great detail or over-explain. It’s better to answer questions as they are asked rather than overload the child with information that’s difficult to process.
  • Consider reading an age-appropriate book about death. The right book can be a valuable tool for a difficult conversation. Look for books that explain death simply, in terms the child can readily understand.

At Evergreen Cemetery and Mortuary, we provide support to families even after the funeral is over. If you’ve lost a loved one, our grief support team can help you find resources to help you and your family heal. Call us at (520) 399-6652 to learn more.

When a First Responder Dies

First responders are brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the service of our communities. When they lose their lives, we as a community grieve along with their loved ones, respecting and appreciating their sacrifice. It’s only fitting that they should be honored with a meaningful memorial service.

  • First responder funerals are similar to those of veterans. Although there are rituals unique to the person’s particular area of service, some traditions remain the same.
  • A flag-draped casket is an important honor. Just as members of the military are honored for service to their country, firefighters and police who have died in the line of duty are also entitled to a flag-draped casket.
  • The presence of an honor guard is another tradition shared with military funerals. The honor guard is involved in many aspects of the funeral. Duties include casket watch, pallbearers, and color guard. A designated member of the honor guard escorts the family into the service before assuming the duties of the ceremony.
  • A ceremonial volley may be fired if it’s deemed appropriate. If the family feels that the sound of gunfire would be too traumatic, a 21-bell ceremony is another option. For firefighters, it’s traditional to toll a bell three times.
  • At the end of the service, the flag is treated with special care and respect. It’s taken from the casket and folded carefully into the traditional triangle fold, then presented to the family.

Law enforcement funerals are heavily endowed with symbolism and meaning. A police escort accompanies the mourners to the cemetery, and sometimes officers from around the country come to pay their respects. Additionally, blue-tinted flowers are sometimes placed in a vase beside the casket as a tribute to the Thin Blue Line a phrase that refers to law enforcement as a barrier between order and anarchy.

Funerals for first responders honor the hero who has lost his or her life, but they are also a time of great respect for the person’s family. The family’s wishes are taken into account first, even ahead of longstanding traditions. During this time of grief and mourning, the community of first responders comes together to support the family and help its members begin to heal.

First responder funerals are meaningful and special, but every person deserves a funeral that honors the life that was lived. At Evergreen Cemetery and Mortuary, we understand the importance of a life-honoring memorial that respects the legacy of the person who has died and helps friends and family members begin to heal. Call (520) 399-6652 today to learn how we can help you honor your loved one.

Remembering on Special Days

The loss of a loved one can be extremely painful, especially if you were very close. Sometimes holidays and other special days can deepen the pain of that loss. Birthdays, anniversaries and any other days that were significant to you and your loved one can be difficult. How can you manage the pain and promote healing?

Not only can you manage your own pain, you can turn that pain into something positive by doing something to mark the occasion and acknowledge your grief. There are many different options:

  • Pamper yourself. A day that you used to spend creating happy memories with a person you cared about is a perfect day for treating yourself well. Whether it’s a day at the spa or just some time with the phone off and reading a book in the bath, some sort of self-care can remind you of the care your loved one had for you.

  • Cook the person’s favorite meal. When you do something you used to do for your loved one, you’re honoring the memory and reminding yourself of happy times.
  • Plant a tree or a memory garden. A growing plant is a beautiful way to memorialize a loved one. It also provides a tangible space where you can reflect and remember.
  • Go through photos and remember the good times. You might just look at them and think about your history together or you might do something more proactive, such as making a scrapbook or digital slideshow. You might also consider inviting a friend or family member to go through the photos with you so you can share this meaningful time.
  • Light a candle in honor of your loved one. Sometimes, a little light can be a healing force. If you make a point to light a candle every year on the anniversary of a special date, the ritual can be comforting.

Sometimes the best way to alleviate pain is to focus outwardly, thinking of others. You may be able to find ways to honor your loved one by reaching out to others, and you can use your experience of mourning to help others work through their grief.

  • Donate to charity in your loved one’s name. Did the person have strong feelings about a particular cause? By donating to a meaningful charity, you’ll be furthering your loved one’s legacy.
  • Spend the day volunteering for a worthy cause. Work at a food pantry, read to children at a local library, run a 5k for charity or find another way to put your values into action. It feels good to give back, and you’ll be helping others in a concrete way.
  • Reach out to someone else who is grieving. Whether it’s through a support group, a ministry or a mentor program, you can find ways to use your experience to help someone else.

At Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery, we know the importance of remembering. We can help you plan a meaningful service to honor the life your loved one lived, and we have grief support services to help you work through your own pain. Call (520) 399-6652 to learn more about all the ways we provide support, comfort, and care.

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