Karen Block has vivid memories of a moment in her life that led to her current role as a celebrant at Kettle Valley Memorial Services in Penticton.
It was 1995. She was 17 years old or so, living in Drumheller, Alta., and her grandfather had just passed away. She and her mom were driving to the funeral home, where the director was known for his caring and compassionate ways.
“I wanted to be there for that appointment at the funeral home, although I did not know what to expect and felt nervous and uneasy as my mom and her siblings gathered in the arrangement office,” Block says. “That appointment lasted about an hour and a half, and it was truly one of the most influential experiences of my life. With keen interest, I observed how the funeral director listened, respected and guided our family to help create a beautiful service that honoured and captured the essence of my grandfather, including having the very fitting song ‘Daddy’s Hands’ performed at the service.
“Though an emotional memory, I feel gratitude knowing his funeral played a key role in my grief process and healing. Observing the skill, talent and natural compassion shown by the funeral director is something I have never forgotten and helps guide me and my approach when working with families.”
Block moved to Penticton in 2014, and she knocked on the door of a local funeral home, where she was greeted by Kevin Smith. He was willing to give her a chance, and Block had found her calling. Today, Smith owns Kettle Valley Memorial Services, and Block has recently joined forces with him once again. Block is a certified funeral celebrant, seeking to meet the needs of families during their time of loss by providing a funeral service that is personalized to reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased.
“Kevin has literally encouraged, supported and mentored me from day one,” Block says. “I respect and continually learn from him as I observe his never-ending drive, dedication, attention to detail and compassion as he strives to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of each and every family he serves.”
Block also works with clients on pre-arrangements. Planning ahead to help ease the burden on your loved ones helps to alleviate any questions, problems or differences that can occur among families when passing occurs. There is peace of mind knowing that your final wishes are documented and will be respected and followed through.
Block remembers how that funeral director in Drumheller treated her family after her grandfather’s passing, and it’s how she operates on a day-to-day basis. If your loved one wants to have a game show theme played at their service, like one of Block’s clients once requested, she will make that happen.
“That’s truly what fuels my passion,” Block says. “To that family, when the time does come, isn’t that truly a way to honour who the person is in the truest sense of authenticity?”
Block could not be happier to be back working with Smith and Kettle Valley funeral director Erin Paul, who was also part of the team at that funeral home where Block knocked on the door in 2014. Together they deliver compassionate, knowledgeable and trusted service.
“It feels really great to be back with both Kevin and Erin,” she says. “It’s an honour, and it’s a privilege to work with families in a time of loss. And my goal is to just follow Kevin’s lead, and it is all about meeting the needs of the families. If by our assistance we can make a tough time a little bit easier, that’s what we’re here for.
“It’s truly to serve families and honour a life lived.”
To see if Kettle Valley Memorial is the best fit for you and your family, visit its website here.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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