November 23rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
Fantin’s Chapel Christmas Memorial
A family owned business helping with grief during the holidays
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
For most people, Christmas is a joyous time; a time to celebrate family, friends and the holiday spirit. For some though, Christmas can be a difficult season if the family is grieving the loss of a loved one.

Over a decade ago, Darrell Sydora, owner of Fantin’s Funeral Chapel, attended a Blue Christmas hosted at the United Church - a service for people who have experienced the death of a family member during the holiday season. The minister informed him that it may be the last ceremony held at the church. Realizing the value of helping grieving families cope and retain the reverence of the holidays while honouring the memory of their dearly departed, Sydora asked permission to host the event next year at the funeral home in a more non-denominational setting and perhaps allow those of all faiths to come together in support.

With this thought and the blessing of the United Church, Fantin’s began their ‘Christmas Memorial’ with a focus on the joyfulness of the season rather than the ‘blues’ that it previously implied.

What started with only six attendees has grown over the years to almost 200, filling the chapel to capacity.

According to Sydora, “the event is dedicated to those who have died, to honour their memory and to aid the families and friends through the holiday season. Facilitators include members of the clergy, a registered psychologist, the calming of talented musicians and caring funeral staff”.
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“Issues addressed at the service include the diversity of death this community has experienced, from peaceful and expected deaths to horrific tragedies of the worst kind. Recognizing normal grief from states of depression and mental unwellness and insight and some tools to coping are provided”.

People who attend are greeted at the door where staff take the names of the person they are there to remember. “We take a roster so that we can give those who attend the opportunity to recognize each deceased because they are too important to be forgotten during the holidays. Those who have suffered a recent loss are also presented with a personalized gift, something they can take with them as a reminder of their departed loved ones.”

According to Sydora, “I have attended many “Blue Christmas” services hosted by others but none that focused solely on helping families to this extent. The resources identified at this time are a boon to our community and we are grateful for all the people who care as much as we do in the wellness of those in need in a common place with people who are also grieving”.

The Christmas Memorial is to honour those who have died not just this year but any year because it is up to us to remember them so they are not forgotten. Our strength comes from each other and in our faith. “Many people come back year after year and they are graciously welcome”.

To help with the process, Sydora brings in a registered psychologist to provide some general counseling, clergyman to aid spiritually, support group facilitators, and people who have learned to celebrate a life well lived instead of mourning a life that is no more. During the service there will be prayers, a Christmas message, exercises to teach the value of having support, moments to honour each individual who passed away and musical tributes performed throughout the service.
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The memorial is only an hour in length and is catered after. “By having plenty of food at the end people can eat and visit in a relaxed environment”. There is no entrance fee and the service is open to the public.

Sydora sums it up perfectly, “the mission of this event is to find the gladness that the holiday season brings and participate in it without that special someone by your side but forever in your heart”.

If you are interested in attending Fantin’s Memorial Christmas please contact the funeral chapel by Dec. 2nd at 403-562-8555.

This special event takes place on Sunday, Dec. 4th at 3:00 p.m. at Fantin's Funeral Chapel (13461-20th Ave) in Blairmore.
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November 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 50
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12925 20th Ave, Box 960, Blairmore, Alberta, Canada T0K 0E0 | | 403.562.2248 | 403.562.8379 (FAX)