McPherson Funeral Service is holding its fifth-annual Service of Remembrance on Monday, December 6, 2010 at McPherson Funeral Home at 7:00p.m. (2200 2nd Street South, Cranbrook, B.C.). We will be honouring the memories of those we love, and have lost. We invite you to come and share in this special evening of reflection and remembrance with us.
All Are Welcome. Please RSVP to McPhersons by Thursday, December 2, 2010.
(250) 426-3132 or (250) 427-72211-800-619-4222
Service of Remembrance
This past May we were honoured to have Dr. Alan Wolfelt back in our community to offer his inspirational gift of teaching. This day-long program was entitled: Healing Your Grieving Heart, When Someone You Love Has Died. The day was filled with educational teachings from world-renowned psychologist Dr. Alan Wolfelt that proved to be very inspirational and comforting. We had a great turnout and look forward to having Dr. Wolfelt back to Cranbrook in the spring of 2012. Please watch our website (mcpher-sonfh.com) for more information and updates on this event.
More About Alan Wolfelt, PhDDr. Alan Wolfelt, author, educator and grief counsellor, is known to thousands across North America for his inspirational teaching gift. His compassionate message about healing in grief, based on his own personal losses, as well as supporting children, teens, adults and families over the last three decades, speaks not only to the intellect but the hearts of all who hear him. Perhaps best known for his model of companioning versus treating mourners, Dr. Wolfelt is committed to helping people mourn so they can live well and love well.Founder and director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition, Dr. Wolfelt presents numerous educational workshops each year for hospices, hospi-tals, schools, universities, funeral homes, community groups and a variety of other organizations. He also teaches weeklong courses for bereavement caregivers at the Center for Loss, located in the beautiful mountain foothills of Fort Collins, Colorado.The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Larry King Live Show and the NBC Today Show, among others, have relied on Dr. Wolfelts insightful commentary on grief. Past recipient of the Association of Death Education and Counselings Death Educator Award, Dr. Wolfelt is also a faculty member of the Univer-sity of Colorado medical schools department of family medicine.Dr. Wolfelt writes the childrens and grief column for Bereavement Maga-zine and is a regular contributor to the journals, Grief Digest and Living our Losses. He is the author of over 20 books, most of which are available in McPhersons library.
Alan D. Wolfelt
Hugh grew up on a ranch helping with the daily chores. He was a quiet and shy boy who felt more com-fortable around animals than most people. A sports scholar-ship enabled him to attend uni-versity and complete his degree in veterinary medicine. However, he had no desire to remain in the city and instead bought him-self a piece of land with a small ranch and opened a veterinary clinic on the site. He soon became known as the quiet but ex-tremely helpful cowboy vet, whether he was assisting with the delivery of a foal or vaccinating the family dog.
Throughout the years, Hugh became a namesake in the com-munity. He hosted school groups and was always willing to open his practice at all hours or drive many kilometres to help an animal in need. He also made several substantial donations back to the community, including funding scholarships to dis-advantaged students at the local high school.
The lone cowboy never married or had children, but was never at a loss for an invitation to turkey dinner or a holiday gathering. For many in the community, he had become a part of their family. It was therefore very surprising when the animal doctor failed to open his shop for almost two weeks straight without telling anyone; Hugh had barely taken any holidays since he had opened his practice 30 years before.
It was with sad news that Hugh announced he was closing his veterinary business due to illness. The community rallied behind him helping him look after his horses when things took a turn for the worse. Not wanting to sell his ranch, he remained at home but knew he must soon start planning for what lay ahead. With the same care and attention he gave to his animals, he decided to donate the ranch to a local community group that would use the house and property as a recreational retreat for disadvantaged kids.
The community was ecstatic with his donation, but they were not willing to let the 57-year-old cowboy ride off into the sunset alone. Instead, they wanted to help him plan a final farewell. At first, Hugh resisted saying that he did not need anything; but close friends insisted they needed some way to say goodbye that would help them cope with their grief.
Hugh agreed to meet with a funeral director who was a source of abundant information. Soon the two were planning a funeral that would take place at the ranch and include an old-fashioned pancake breakfast that the funeral home would cater. As Hugh was an early riser as many cowboys are he wanted the funeral to take place in the morning. As a man of few words, he chose only a few speakers to say something short and asked his neighbours well-known local musicians to provide some soft background music. In addition, Hugh decided that instead of people bringing flowers, he would prefer donations be made to either the local animal shelter or to the association that had been donated his land. Lastly, Hugh requested that his body be buried in the small cemetery carved out of one corner of the ranch.
For someone who had just wanted to ride into the sunset, Hugh says planning his funeral was one of the most reward-ing things he has done. He was glad that he was able to pick where and how he wanted it to occur and he was told by many that they would have been heartbroken if they were not al-lowed a final farewell. He now realized that even with the absence of any immediate family, there was still many in the community who wanted to honour his life.
It was no surprise to hear that Hugh passed away at home. The morning of the funeral, his casket was carried to the ranch on a wagon pulled by his favourite horse. Hundreds of friends and clients waited at the ranch as the wagon made its way slowly along the country road. The musicians played an assortment of reflective western tunes. With the arrival of the casket, a small service took place, followed by burial at the small cemetery. Then all of Hughs closest friends, many of whom considered themselves family, sat down for a pancake breakfast. No one could deny it was the perfect farewell for the lone cowboy.
By Lisa Johnston
The Lone CowboyFor someone who had just wanted to ride into the
sunset, Hugh says planning his funeral was one
of the most rewarding things he has done.
Bette had become disillusioned with organized religion. In fact, one day she said to me, I cant believe that I spent so much of my life in that church!Having said that, she was a deeply spiritual person and wanted her
funeral service to be an event that would honour her spiritual journey. She phoned me after being diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and asked me to visit her to talk about her funeral. Every detail of the ser-vice was planned by Bette.
She was a beautiful woman with a wide range of interests. Besides being involved with a number of agencies as a volunteer, she kept in touch with children and stepchildren from three marriages!
So, on the day of her funeral, the chapel was packed. Her casket was surrounded by flowers. Pictures of her life and family were arranged among the flowers.
The service began with a moment of silent meditation followed by music from the Taize Community in France a community of Protes-tants and Catholics in the province of Burgundy. It is a place that wel-comes believers and skeptics alike. It was a place where Bette would have felt completely at home.
Personal tributes are important so it was decided that her son and daughter would offer their memories. These were the most moving mo-ments of our time together. They were able to share wonderful stories of a warm and caring woman.
In my reflection, I commented on how it is important for family and friends to grieve together and to pay tribute to the one who has died. It is also an opportunity for those who are left to reflect on their own lives and what is important to them as they move on to the next chapter.
Following my reflection, those in attendance said British poet David Harkins poem together.
You can shed tears that she is goneOr you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that shell come backOr you can open your eyes and see that she has left.Your heart can be empty because you cant see her
Or can be full of the love that you shared.You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterdayOr you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that shes goneOr you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your backOr you can do what shed want: smile, open your eyes, love
and go on.
The last two lines of this poem expressed exactly what Bette wanted her family and friends to do.
As the crowd left the chapel, there was a sense that this had tru-ly been a celebration of Bettes life. There were tears and laughter. There were stories, music and moments of reflection. Bette would have been proud.
John Kennedy Saynor is the founder of GENESIS Bereavement Resources. He can be contacted through
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