• Flowers on Graves: Beautifying a Loved One’s Final Resting Place

    Are you responsible for the upkeep of a loved one’s grave? Most cemeteries have groundskeepers, but they’re often only responsible for mowing and repairs. In that case, any flowering plants or beautification of an individual gravesite is up to family members or volunteers. Even if the cemetery is well maintained, it doesn’t hurt to beautify a loved one’s final resting place.

    It’s important to check with the cemetery regarding rules, but it’s often possible to plant flowers on the grave. There may be restrictions on what you’re allowed to plant, as well as rules about maintenance, but if you get clearance, many types of flowers are a good fit for a gravesite.

    • Geraniums are a good choice because they’re bright and cheerful. Hardy and easy to maintain, they are available in a wide selection of colors. To keep them blooming, clip the spent flower heads. If the gravesite is in a warm climate, be aware that the geraniums might grow large and obscure the headstone.

    • Chrysanthemums require minimal maintenance and tend to be cold-hardy. They can be left in the ground, and they’ll return the next growing season; the primary maintenance required is deadheading blossoms and cutting back plant stems at the end of the season. Bonus: there are many types of chrysanthemums, so you can plant different ones and have blooms year-round.

    • Roses are beautiful but require some work. Most cemeteries will allow the planting of roses on a gravesite because maintenance workers can easily work around them. However, the workers generally won’t prune roses, so if you plant one, make sure you have time in your schedule to come back and tend it.

    • Wildflowers can be an easy way to add color. One of the benefits of wildflowers is that they reseed and bloom yearly, but it should be noted that some flowers that aren’t considered wildflowers will do the same thing. Annuals such as marigolds, salvia, zinnias and cosmos will come back each year for many years.

    • Daylilies are a good option because they don’t require much care. They’re very prolific growers, so unless you want them to spread over a large area, it’s best to have a border to contain them.

    • Low-spreading flowers that can handle frequent mowing are a great choice. Flowering rhyme, Roman chamomile, and some varieties of ajuga are colorful seasonal ground cover that will survive not only mowing but also foot traffic.

    The peaceful grounds of Evergreen Cemetery were established in 1907 to serve the rapidly expanding Tucson community. Today, this beautiful setting for your loved one’s final resting place is a touchpoint for future generations to reflect and remember. Call to learn more about us, or visit the About Us page to schedule a tour.

  • 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.

  • Final Care of Our Fallen Troops

    When a soldier dies in combat, he or she must be transported back home to the grieving family. Have you ever wondered who cares for the bodies of these brave men and women in our nation’s service?

    Since 2009, journalists have been permitted a glimpse inside the Dover Port Mortuary on Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The reports they’ve given paint a picture of tender care and solemn honor, as service members undertake the task of preparing their compatriots for their final journey home.

    For veterans killed in the line of duty, that journey begins on a cargo flight to Dover. Upon landing, the plane is met by military officials and, often, family members. White-gloved service members solemnly carry the flag-draped casket to the 72,000-square-foot building housing the mortuary, where fallen troops are carefully attended by members of the armed forces dedicated to providing respectful care.

    After an autopsy is performed by the armed forces medical examiner, mortuary staff members begin their work.

    Embalming comes first. Then the body is washed, with special attention to cleaning the hands and hair. Repairs to the body are made, and embalmers use photographs of the person to try to recreate each distinguishing line and feature. When the body is ready, it’s time for staff to dress the service member one final time.

    This is the part of the process that is most indicative of the veteran’s time in service. A dress uniform is prepared for each fallen service member, even if that person is going to be cremated or the service will have a closed casket. Even if the uniform can only be placed on top of the person’s remains, it must be perfectly prepared.

    The men and women who dress service members at this time do it for the families, but also out of a deep and solemn respect for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our nation.

    They carefully choose medals, badges, ribbons and other insignia specific to the person’s military service record, taking care to assemble them properly on the uniform.

    Once the uniform is complete, a photo is taken and sent to Fort Knox, so that personnel there can double check to make sure that it’s perfect. No misplaced medal or loose thread is allowed to mar the look of the uniform that will be the last outfit the family sees on their loved one. Once it’s perfect, it’s deemed suitable for someone who, through the ultimate personal sacrifice, has earned the respect, honor and appreciation of our entire nation.

    At Evergreen Mortuary, Cemetery, & Crematory, we also provide tender, respectful care to every person whose care is placed in our hands. For veterans, we strive to provide honorable and dignified arrangements and offer special services to truly honor the men and women who have given so much to protect the freedoms that all Americans hold dear.

    Call us at 520.257.4831 for more information, or visit the Veterans Services page of our website.

  • Spending Time with Loved Ones (While There’s Still Time)

    It’s easy to find yourself getting bogged down in everyday affairs. When you do that, however, your family (especially aging parents) may feel they’re missing out on time with you. If your parent or loved one is getting on in years, you might want to take time out to do something meaningful together. It’s a good way to make family members feel loved, and building those special memories is good for you, too.

    Most people have a bucket list, even if it’s never been shared with anyone. Ask questions so you can find out what your loved one would really like to do with you that they haven’t done yet. Here are a few ideas:

    • Travel! What’s a place your loved one has never been to but wants to visit? Europe? Australia? Alaska? Maybe you could take a cruise together or go on a tour. If you want to do something unusual, you could even make it your goal to visit the Wonders of the World.

    • Learn a new language. Whether you take a class, buy a set of CDs, or try an online course, the fun thing about learning a new language together is that you get to practice speaking it to each other. If you’re competitive, challenge each other to see who can master something like a song or a poem first.

    • Write a memoir. People who have lived for a long time have interesting stories to tell. Help your loved one put these stories on paper, even if it’s just for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be a bestseller — or even published — to be a valuable record of your family history.

    • Go whale watching. Whale watching is a thrilling way to experience nature. There are many other fun ways to observe animals in their natural habitat, as well, whether you’re looking for dolphins, going on a photo safari tour, visiting a wildlife sanctuary or bird watching.

    • Try new foods. Today, we have a host of foods from around the globe, readily available in our neighborhoods. Often, older people don’t try these unfamiliar foods, either because they’re nervous about something unknown or because they’re set in their ways. Introducing your parent or loved one to one of your favorites can be rewarding and fun. Maybe it will even become a shared favorite.

    • Learn a new skill such as crocheting or painting. Learning something new together is a wonderful way to build memories while developing a new skill. Look for classes at your local library or community center.

    • Support a charity. You may already donate to charity, but participating in a hands-on way can be an enriching experience. Help at a local soup kitchen, food pantry, charity thrift store or animal shelter, and you’ll be helping others as you bond with your loved one.

    We hope these suggestions spark your imagination and inspire you to create a list of your own. While you’re checking things off the list, don’t forget preplanning. Call Evergreen at 520.257.4831 or visit our Plan Ahead page to request your free preplanning guide

  • Honoring Veterans on the 4th of July

    The 4 th of July is a wonderful day of celebration when friends and family gather to commemorate the birth of our nation. Backyard barbecues and picnics, parades and concerts, and other festive events dominate the occasion. No 4 th of July celebration, however, is truly complete unless we stop to recognize the people who have sacrificed for our freedom: our veterans.

    This year during your celebration, set aside some time to honor veterans. Whether you have members of the military in your family, want to instill in your children a healthy respect for military service, or simply love our country, it’s important to find ways to support those who sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms. Here, we offer some suggestions of thoughtful ways to show your appreciation.

    1. Take your kids to the final resting place of a relative who served in the military . You can take a flower arrangement, wreath, or flag with you, to decorate your loved one’s resting place. Telling children stories of family members who served our country can give them a sense of connection that they’ll carry into adulthood.
    2. Invite a military family to your celebration. Military families serve alongside their service members, sacrificing precious family time that most of us take for granted. They are willing to set aside plans they may have had, in order to support their family member in service of our country. On holidays like 4 th of July, take the opportunity to reach out and see how you can support these families and show your appreciation.
    3. Visit a retired vet. VA hospitals and veterans’ homes often have lonely residents who would enjoy a visit from someone who appreciates their service. If you’re involved with a scouting troop or youth group, it can be a nice gesture to plan an outing to sing to or otherwise interact with retired veterans. By the same token, simply sitting with a vet and listening to stories can be rewarding to you both.
    4. Donate to a veteran’s charity . You can donate money or goods, but it can be even more meaningful to donate time. Giving a day to work with or for veterans can enrich your life as well as theirs.
    5. Be courteous about fireworks: many vets suffer from PTSD. As we remember veterans on the 4 th of July, it’s important to remember that many of them have been through significant trauma. Fireworks may seem celebratory to you, but to many vets they are stressful. Show compassion when planning your celebration, and respect the concerns of others.

    At Evergreen Cemetery, Mortuary & Crematory, we believe in honoring veterans. That’s why we provide honorable and dignified arrangements for veterans, along with many other veterans’ services. Call 520.257.4831 to learn more, or visit the Veterans Services page on our website.

  • Signature Services for Ultimate Customization

    An end-of-life ceremony should be personalized to honor the life that was lived and the person who lived it. If you’re planning a service, make it your goal to create an event that will live on in the memory of each person in attendance, as a beautiful tribute that captured the essence of the person who has died. This helpful infographic from Evergreen Memorial explains how Signature Services can enhance your funeral or memorial service.

    Whether you’re preplanning or you have an immediate need, Evergreen can help. Committed to serving our community, we’ve built a reputation for quality sincerity and trust. For more information call 520.257.4831 or visit our website for more information.

  • UK Charity: “We Need to Talk about Death”

    Sue Ryder, a UK charity that cares for people with life-threatening illnesses, is big on talking about death. They want to break the taboos. They want to open up a conversation. They want us to change how we think and talk about it.

    Death is certainly inevitable, but we’ve distanced ourselves from it. According to the folks Sue Ryder, we look at death as something to be avoided or postponed as long as possible.

    When a loved one dies, many people are reluctant to hold a visitation or even a funeral, preferring to gloss over the death in an attempt to remain unscathed. This doesn’t work, though, because we need to face what has happened before we’re able to heal. Our fear of death is also stifling some very meaningful and important conversations.

    Sue Ryder is urging people to talk to their loved ones about death before it’s imminent. This is not as scary as it sounds: Just ask questions about end-of-life arrangements, and ask what sort of funeral your loved one would like. Talk about the things you and your loved one want to accomplish while you’re still alive, and discuss where each of you would like to spend your final days.

    You might be surprised at the insight you gain into the mind of a person you’ve known for a long time, and you might find that the conversation draws you closer together.

    When we talk openly about death, it takes away some of its power to scare us. The discussion can lead to other important topics, such as whether your loved one has a will and how he or she feels about medical intervention. Talking about death helps ensure people get the support they need when they are facing the end of their lives — and being unafraid to discuss death makes you more likely to live in the moment and appreciate life.

    While you’re having this discussion with your loved ones, consider preplanning for your funeral. Preplanning removes the guesswork and relieves family members of stress during an already difficult time. At Evergreen Mortuary, our preplanning advisors are well versed in helping people create services that promote healing and honor the life that was lived. Call us at 520.257.4831 to learn more about preplanning, or visit our website to request your free preplanning guide.

  • Songs for Every Unique Funeral

    When it comes to funeral music, there’s so much more freedom than there used to be. The difficulty is that with that freedom comes a broad variety of options that can be difficult to narrow it down.

    If you are planning a religious service, make sure you check with the officiant to learn any rules that apply to song choice. If, however, you’re planning a non-traditional funeral, you can choose just about any music that’s meaningful to you. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some suggestions:

    • For the classical music lover:
      • Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
      • Pie Jesu – Gabriel Fauré
    • If your loved one was into the standards:
      • They Can’t Take That Away from Me – Ella Fitzgerald
      • Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
    • For those who love country music:
      • Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill
      • When I Get Where I’m Going – Dolly Parton and Brad Paisley
    • For lovers of alternative music:
      • Ol’ 55 – Tom Waits
      • What a Wonderful World – Joey Ramone
    • Celebratory songs:
      • Somewhere over the Rainbow (What a Wonderful World) – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
      • To Where you Are – Josh Groban
    • Songs of Faith:
      • Amazing Grace
      • I Can Only Imagine – Mercy Me

    Did we leave off your favorite? Maybe this will trigger some ideas, even if we didn’t get it exactly right. Perhaps you love What a Wonderful World , for example, but prefer Louis Armstrong to Joey Ramone. You can choose whatever means the most to you. We hope we’ve given you a good place to start making your list.

    At Evergreen Mortuary, we’re well versed in creating meaningful, healing experiences that help families honor the life that was lived. Whether you’re arranging a funeral for a loved one or preplanning for your own future need, we can help you plan the perfect ceremony down to each little detail. Call 520.257.4831 to learn more.

  • The Obituary that Went Viral

    In January, Terry Wayne Ward of DeMotte, Indiana, passed away at the age of 71. As is often the case, his daughter wrote his obituary. What’s a little unusual, however, is that it was so funny that it went viral. Here are some of the highlights:

    The obituary stated that Terry had “escaped this mortal realm” and left behind “32 jars of Miracle Whip, 17 boxes of Hamburger Helper and multitudes of other random items that would prove helpful in the event of a zombie apocalypse.” His wife was described as “overly patient and accepting.”

    The obituary also read: “Terry graduated from Thornridge High School in South Holland, IL, where only three of his teachers took an early retirement after having had him as a student. He met the love of his life, Kathy, by telling her he was a lineman – he didn’t specify early on that he was a lineman for the phone company, not the NFL. Still, Kathy and Terry wed in the fall of 1969, perfectly between the Summer of Love and the Winter of Regret.

    “He retired from AT&T (formerly Ameritech, formerly formerly Indiana Bell) after 39 years of begrudging service, where he accumulated roughly 3,000 rolls of black electrical tape during the course of his career (which he used for everything from open wounds to ‘Don’t use this button’ covers).”

    Terry was described as enjoying many, many things, including “hunting, fishing, golfing, snorkeling, ABBA, hiking Turkey Run, chopping wood, shooting guns, Bed Bath & Beyond, starlight mints, cold beer, free beer, The History Channel, CCR, war movies, discussing who makes the best pizza, the Chicago White Sox, old Buicks and, above all, his family.”

    “He was a renowned distributor of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches to his grandchildren. He also turned on programs such as Phineas and Ferb for his grand-young’uns, usually when they were actually there. He despised ‘uppity foods’ like hummus, which his family lovingly called ‘bean dip’ for his benefit, which he loved consequently. He couldn’t give a damn about most material things, and automobiles were never to be purchased new. He never owned a personal cell phone and he had zero working knowledge of the Kardashians. Terry died knowing that The Blues Brothers was the best movie ever, (young) Clint Eastwood was the baddest-ass man on the planet, and hot sauce can be added to absolutely any food.”

    What a wonderful bond this father and daughter must have had, that she was comfortable writing such a humorous and detailed obituary. You may not have a gift for writing to equal Terry’s daughter Jeanne Lahm, but you can write a meaningful obituary that allows your loved one’s personality to shine through.

    At Evergreen Mortuary, we’ve been serving families in our community since 1974, helping to create healing experiences that acknowledge the uniqueness of each life. We can help you with every aspect of planning the perfect life-honoring tribute. Call 520.257.4831 today to learn more.

  • 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.