As part of our 5th anniversary celebration I promised to tell you about the many changes that are coming for us over the next little while. Hitting this milestone in ITM has inspired us to really “get serious” about where we are at with our services and determine what we are really after because over 5 years it becomes very clear what you love to do and things you wish you never had to do again. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we are going to get to give up on doing paper work and paying bills but it does mean that we have some services on our menu that we just simply don’t want to offer any more. Decisions like that don’t come easily. The decisions we are going to share with you over the next little while have come after many days spent around the meeting table discussing what is working for us, what is costing us money, what inspires us and what we just can’t imagine not doing.
Today I want to share with you something that is so important to me that we are now going to provide this service for free. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true. We are often approached about sponsoring this or that, or supporting this cause or that cause. We love all the causes and feel bad when we say no but we have to draw the line somewhere. We are not a typical company which means that typical sponsorships and supports don’t work for us. Having my company name on a t-shirt is not going to bring me business or best showcase what we are capable of. And I started this company because I believe in living in the moment and truly embracing special moments so I have decided the best way for us to give back to our community is by providing a service, for free, that everyone deserves.
If you follow us regularly you might have a guess at where I am headed with this. I believe with my whole heart in all the services we provide but there is one service that we provide that gives me more satisfaction then any other type of event that I have ever done. We provide services to prepare a celebration of life for grieving families and I now want to provide this service as a free* service because I believe so much in what this means to someone’s life.
We spend our entire lives living these incredible moments then one day it all comes to an end. Just like that. Sometimes because we are sick, sometimes because of an accident, and sometimes we’ve made that choice. My family has experienced some very tragic moments and those moments have taught me things that I will never be able to put into words.
Before the moment my nephew passed away I was petrified of death. Then it all changed. Before that moment I had experienced the death of grandparents and distant relatives. But it was different. Those were phone calls in the middle of the night followed by a very sad day standing in a funeral home accepting condolences from people I’d never met before. When Elgin passed away it was different.
To be quite honest I have no idea where the idea came from (I am sure I was told at some point but there were several days that are just a blur still to this day other than the hours spent with my sister trying to organize the photos for the slide show that would be at the funeral), my best guess is that is was a combination of my sister’s vision and probably some suggestions from supporters of Elgin to create one of the most incredible moments I have ever experienced in my life. In this case we did the traditional wake at the funeral home and if I remember correctly it was done over two days (it could have been just one, again a blur). We stood in a long line and shook hands and hugged hundreds of people. Most of who I knew but many who really didn’t know who I was nor did I know them. This was followed by the moment that took my breath away. We drove away from the funeral home in a long line of cars and headed for Elgin’s favourite place, the local hockey arena. Yup, that’s right, our final good byes would be said at the arena…right on the ice surface…because that’s where he loved to be. Elgin was born with a love for hockey. Simple as that. From the moment he could hold something in his hand it was a hockey stick.
We walked onto the ice surface where over 500 people where waiting, quietly. There were three giant screens with a gorgeous image of my sister, her husband and Elgin. There was a stage and a red carpet and media boxes full of reporters and photographers. I had never seen anything like it. It was the most moving funeral I had ever attended. It was real, it was a true reflection of Elgin and the short time he had spent on this earth.
Then, two years ago my dad passed away suddenly. He was out playing hockey with this friends on a frozen river. He caught his blade in the ice and fell backwards. The head trauma was too much for him to recover from. He passed away 54 hours later. The minute we started talking about arrangements I knew exactly what we needed to do. And I can assure you it didn’t include a funeral home.
My dad, like most people, would not want everyone standing around crying over his death. If he could have picked he would have wanted us to celebrate this life. And that’s exactly what we did. We spent the next couple of days putting together all the best things from my dad’s life including photographs, his bicycle, his favourite hat and many other things. We gathered it all up and took it over to a local pub where we served his favourite foods – pizza, wings and beer. At a time when our lives had literally come to a stop we were able to share a moment with all the special people in my dad’s life that included happy memories instead of dwelling on the how we’d spent the last week.
I have nothing against funeral homes. Like everything, they have their place. But also like everything that is based on a long standing tradition, it is not always the best choice for everyone. Similar to how people don’t necessarily believe in getting married in a church anymore, not everyone believes in their final moments being in a funeral home.
Over the last couple of years we have been involved in several Celebrations of Life and like I mentioned they have been the most rewarding moments I have experienced throughout my time as an event planner. I get so much satisfaction from being able to provide a moment of relief, happiness and calm to a client who is going through one of the hardest moments of their lives.
When the dreaded moment happens it is hard for people to think straight and they head into automatic mode. They call family and tell them what happened then they call the funeral home and start making the arrangements. For those in your life who would prefer to be remembered in the middle of the ball diamond where they spent the majority of their days; or for the person who always joked about being driven down the centre of town in a parade; or for the person who would really just love to be remembered in their own backyard where they spent the majority of their special moments – we want to be the first people you think of to call. And we want to be the people who give you the satisfaction of remembering your loved ones the way they would have wanted to be remembered.
Even just writing this brings tears to my eyes, tears of sheer joy. I started this company to help people create special moments in their lives, and being able to provide the ultimate moment where every memorable moment in the life they lived comes together in the end just perfectly is the most incredible feeling.
I know this is a subject many don’t want to talk or think about but if you think this is the way you want to be remembered please tell your family. Share this post with them and when your time comes tell them to call me and we will do everything we can to make this happen just the way it should and just the way you would want it to.
So it’s free because I believe in the importance of this moment and instead of sponsoring an event or giving money to causes that may not fit our company image this is how we are going to give back to the community and give with our whole heart.
*The services for us to plan and execute the celebration of life are free of charge.
*This does not include the costs of cremation or burial arrangements, transportation of the body or any other related expenses.
*This does not include any costs incurred related to the event – such as food and beverage costs, venue rental, decor rental, shipping, transportation or special permits.
*We are happy to provide these services anywhere you may wish to celebrate however if any travel related costs or accommodations are expected those costs will have to be covered by the client.
*Please contact us for contract details.