Let's Talk About Death

Let's Talk About Death

"Why?"

That's often the first question people ask the owners and employees of Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes after finding out who they work for and what they do for a living. It's usually that followed by an awkward silence, a subtle rebuff, a rapid-fire interrogation ("You actually touch dead bodies? Do you believe in zombies? Have you ever accidentally buried someone alive?") or, on occasion, genuine interest.


Honoring Our Heroes

Honoring Our Heroes

Sure, we love a good BBQ and picnic to kick off the summer as much as anyone else, but in our work we’ve been deeply affected by the stories of the veterans in our community. We’re proud and humbled to host this annual Community Memorial Picnic in their collective honor, and we love seeing generations come together to share stories and recognize those among us who served our country so faithfully.

Worth the Wait

Worth the Wait

If there was ever a backup in the checkout lane, Shirley Despres was almost always to blame.

“Everyone wanted to go to Shirley’s lane,” one of her former Family Fare co-workers shared at the 84-year-old’s visitation on Thursday. “Shoppers would wait in line for twenty minutes even if other lanes were open just to talk to Shirley. That’s just how great she was.”

Peppermints in the Pews

Peppermints in the Pews

Every time Henry Tjoelker walked through the doors of Third Reformed Church his pockets were full of peppermints. And not just any peppermints—skip the Altoids and Certs—Henry was a proud Dutchman and therefore, a peppermint purist. His go-to brands—Wilhelmina and King—hailed from his native country of the Netherlands. It was no surprise, then, to the family and friends gathered for Henry's memorial service on Monday, that there were bags of the mint candies waiting for them in every pew.

'Look At All of His Stuff'

'Look At All of His Stuff'

What's with all the clocks, the model boats and the recumbent bike in the room? Did Heritage Life Story Funeral Home open its own hobby shop? Nope. Those items belonged to Tom Mathews—tinkerer extraordinaire. 

"This is great," exclaimed Chad Russ while gathering with friends and family before his grandfather Tom's memorial service on Saturday. "Look at all of his stuff here."

Making It Personal

Making It Personal

Richard Hoonhorst loved to tell jokes. If you didn't catch the punchline the first time around (or even if you did), he'd enthusiastically tell it again...and again...and again. Just ask his friends at Sandy's Donuts on Grand Rapids' West Side—the place where Richard spent countless mornings drinking his coffee, enjoying a donut and cracking jokes. Most of them will groan, laugh and share their favorite of his one-liners by memory. That's what happens when you hear something for the second, fifth, tenth, hundredth time. 

5 Ways to Making Remembering Part of Your Christmas Tradition (Part 2 of 2)

5 Ways to Making Remembering Part of Your Christmas Tradition (Part 2 of 2)

Every year we'll purchase an ornament for our grief tree for people that we lost who are important to us. As we add new ornaments to our grief tree, we'll have a tangible way to see how many years we'll live through this grief.  Grief is part of who we are and what we own now, and that grief tree is a symbolic of who we are now.  

This, and 4 other ways to include remembering loved ones as part of your Christmas traditions.  

8 Things You Should Know about Your First Christmas After a Loss

8 Things You Should Know about Your First Christmas After a Loss

“Merry Christmas!”  “Happy New Year!” 

Wherever you turn at this time of year, you encounter words of good cheer and reminders to celebrate the joy of the Christmas season.  But those who are facing the first Christmas season following the loss of someone special in their lives may be wondering how they are going to simply survive the holidays, let alone find joy in them. So we asked several people we've served who all have experienced first holidays following a loss what advice they would give to those facing their own first Christmas.  In their own words ...

The Art of Grieving (Part 2 of 3): Wendy Cross, Art Prize 9 Artist

The Art of Grieving (Part 2 of 3):  Wendy Cross, Art Prize 9 Artist

“When someone’s that old you expect that death is coming someday, and you kind of dread it.  It’s always there in the back of your mind.  I was always trying to prepare myself that it would happen. It wasn’t tragic.  But it was just such a shock,” explains Wendy.  “A loss is a loss.  You expect it but you don’t.”

The Art of Grieving (Part 1 of 3): Art Prize 9 Artist Lisa Nawrocki

The Art of Grieving (Part 1 of 3):  Art Prize 9 Artist Lisa Nawrocki

In years past, Lisa would include pictures and links on Facebook to her Art Prize entries and talk excitedly with students and family and friends about it.   But this year, she didn’t take pictures of it or make cards and when people asked what she was working on for Art Prize, all she said was that it was a tribute to her mom. “I couldn’t share it.  Part of it was that it was evolving. And part of it was that I was grieving while working on it.”