Funeral business aims to start conversations

A new funeral business has opened its doors in North Vancouver that wants to take a fresh approach when it comes to discussing and dealing with death and dying.

Koru is a Vancouver-based funeral business that specializes in tailored cremation, burial and ceremony services, such as do-it-yourself funerals, home services, and green burials.

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A North Vancouver branch was opened in the Lonsdale neighbourhood in August.

Wendy Rée, the new branch’s owner and funeral director, says her goal is to ensure the business eschews some of the standard conventions of the industry.

“I want people to be able to come into my office and feel comfortable and not feel like they’re walking into a funeral home,” Rée explains.

“I think it feels like that.”

While Koru North  Vancouver offers many funeral services that people may be familiar with, its approach is geared towards providing education to patrons and being open to people’s unique needs and wants when it comes to funeral services, Rée says.

“What makes us different is that we try to actually encourage people to think of different ideas and ways that things could be done and get back in touch with doing things themselves, if that’s where they’re comfortable.”

In other words, when a loved one dies, the family is encouraged to be as involved in the process as they feel comfortable with.

In B.C., for example, home funerals can be done, assuming the proper legal steps are followed, and that is something that Rée is able to help facilitate.

Or maybe the deceased individual wanted a green burial, which involves no chemical interference and is completely natural? This, too, can be facilitated.

“They can pick and choose little bits that they want us to do for them,” she says about Koru’s open and tailored approach to servicing families.

These days, she says, there is a greater emphasis in the funeral business when it comes to trying to facilitate the specific needs, wishes and desires a dying person and their family might have.

“Even if it’s just somebody dies at hospice and the people want to bathe and dress them,” she says, giving an example of something a family might want to do when a loved one dies but previously didn’t know was an option.

For Rée, Koru is more about starting conversations around death and dying and educating people about their options, rather than pushing people into something they might not be comfortable or enthusiastic about.

“We plant those seeds,” she says. “If somebody calls me and somebody’s sick and they’re going into hospice then I start to talk to them about things that they may want to think about, or they may not have thought about – that they can be involved in looking after the person that’s died as much as they want to.”

Rée says that the North Shore has an active community when it comes to having conversations about death care, and she mentions the Paul Sugar Palliative Support Foundation, a recent North Shore screening of For Dear Life, a movie that deals with one’s freedom in dealing with death, and the presence of death cafes as examples.

“I know it’s hard to talk about, but once you start talking about it and talk about the different things, it’s actually a positive. And if people have no idea what you want because you’ve never talked about death and dying, then how can you expect your wishes to be fulfilled?”

Going forward, she says she has some bold ideas for Koru, such as hosting educational workshops, sessions using artwork as a therapy tool, and perhaps even a coffin club, where people could come in and put custom designs or patterns on their final resting place.

Koru is hosting a grand opening and open house  Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. at its North Vancouver office at 101-147 West 16th St.

Go to korucremation.com/grand-opening-koru-north-shore to learn more.

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