SUSAN BRESSLER: Planning ahead will help cope with grief

Unfortunately, I have attended five funerals already this year and have a 91-year-old mother-in-law in the hospital right now, so end-of-life issues have been something I’ve been thinking about lately. No, not a pleasant topic. I drive by Greenwood Memorial Park a lot, and I thought maybe my readers might want to know a little bit about what services are available there as a stalwart Renton business. Because as we all know, death comes to us and our loved ones eventually and if we are prepared, we can handle the situation a little bit easier in our grief.

Wow, was I amazed. My tour guides were Ed Prince, community services adviser, and Brian Rodriguez, sales manager. At Greenwood their overarching philosophy is that we should all plan ahead. No, it’s not something I like thinking about either; but you know, it makes sense, having that peace of mind. Funeral costs are rising by 7 to 10 percent per year, so locking something in ahead of time makes sense that way, too. Having buried both of my parents, I know that it’s not easy to make all those difficult decisions when you are overwhelmed with grief. Would mom like this? Where would the most peaceful resting spot be? Cremation or traditional burial or mausoleum? I learned that Seattle leans toward 70 percent favoring cremation these days. But those aren’t the only options that Greenwood has. You can memorialize your loved one (burial or non burial), choose to scatter their ashes or select a lawn crypt.

In addition to the burial services, they offer grief management classes, and have celebrations on all major holidays, including an upcoming Memorial Day celebration at 11 a.m., which includes a presentation by a lone bagpiper. A new free-to-the-public service is their Family Emergency Response program. You carry a card with you at all times with the names of your family who should be called should you get in an accident. Their goal is to make sure that in less than two hours your family is at your bedside. I plan to sign up for that. Greenwood personalizes all services with your family needs in mind.

I was amazed to learn that in the Hmong community, services run for three consecutive days for 24 hours at a time; they acommodate that schedule with ease and respect. But, the truly most amazing part of my tour was a tour of the grounds. I had absolutely no idea how beautiful and serene it was. There is a chimes garden, a veterans memorial, an azalea garden and a rhododendron garden. And my favorite was the Garden of Eternal Peace. Waterfalls run through the space and there are benches to sit and contemplate your loved one’s life and your surroundings. And, of course, there is Jimi Hendrix’s resting place, too. If you have the desire to plan ahead for the future or have this need sometime soon, I urge you to check out what Greenwood has to offer.

Susan Bressler is an active member of a number of Renton organizations, including Piazza Renton. E-mail her at scbressler@comcast.net.


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