By Ricky Choi
This week, Grim & Fischer (the 2011 recipient of the Cultchivating the Fringe Award) makes its Vancouver return! Visiting us from Portland, Oregon, this surreal but tenderly presented work of imagination and whimsy brings us one woman’s fight for survival in a showdown with Death himself. Something that you may not have known is that Dignity Memorial, a funeral service provider, is the production sponsor for Grim & Fischer. We were lucky enough to catch up with Forest Lawn & Ocean View Funeral Homes’ General Manager Michael Hedden to find out about his experience at Dignity Memorial, and why this partnership is such a good fit.
Could you tell us about Dignity Memorial and your role as general manager?
Dignity Memorial is a network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. All of our services are designed to help families through one of the most personal and challenging stages of life. We understand losing a loved one is an emotional and difficult experience, and we are committed to helping families with compassionate, professional and personal service. As the General Manager of two funeral homes and a crematorium under the Dignity brand I am responsible for leading a team dedicated to helping families honour a life lived.
As the production sponsor for Grim & Fischer, what role do you see Dignity Memorial playing in supporting the arts?
At Dignity Memorial we believe every life has a unique and special story to tell. The arts represent a form of story telling, so it’s really a natural fit. When we celebrate a life lived we perform traditional ceremony, we listen to music and reflect on visuals all with the intention of honouring a unique journey.
Did you ever imagine that Dignity Memorial would be involved with an arts organisation? How did this process take shape?
Dignity Memorial is an active participant in the Arts community with sponsorship and collaboration with dance companies, theatre and music. Living life to its fullest means getting out there and participating in the communities we live in. Our dedicated staff not only support the arts but participate in local theatre, bands, community charities and wellness activities.
What are some misconceptions about working in the funeral business?
Common misconceptions? Well most people forget that funerals are really for the living.
In Grim & Fischer, an aging grandmother is pit against the Grim Reaper and must confront the inevitable question that we all face: what is it to know your end is nigh? Do you wish to share any insight into this question?
Well, here’s the thing about being a funeral professional, seldom do I actually meet the person for whom we are creating a service for. I meet their family and loved ones and through the creation of a service gain insight into who they were and how they lived their life. Personally, when it’s my time I hope to be exhausted from fully participating in a rich meaningful existence.
For more information on Dignity Memorial please visit: www.dignitymemorial.ca