Campin’ with Christian

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This is story of the Robbins family, who after the loss of their beloved son Christian started the healing process through their experience with Sunset Gardens.

Celebrating Christian’s Life

My name is Holley Sowards. I am the service and operations manager at Einan’s at Sunset Funeral Home in Richland, WA. I’m also a wife and mother to two teenagers, Brody (17) and Brinley (15). Working in funeral service consumes A LOT of my time…sometimes so much time that when I get home I have very little to give my family. This can make work/life balance really challenging. My entire team and their families can relate in so many ways. We work so hard each and every day to make every family experiencing loss feel special and cared for; our goal is to make every experience unique. This often means that we have to be on point 24/7. We are the creative minds guiding families through one of life’s toughest times- which is harder than you think!

 

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Christian Robbins — Helping Kids Fight Mental Illness

Listen to Christian Robbins as he tells you his solution to help kids fight mental illness.

Every family touches you a little differently. We recently worked with a family who lost their 16 ½ year old son. It was devastating, and a tough one for our team as many of us have teenage kids at home. We wanted to make sure that this family felt cared for and that they knew they weren’t alone in this heartbreaking journey. Our team strives to create a deep connection with every family we work with, because we know how hard it is to grieve. In this way, we connected with Christian’s family and they became our family, equally there for each other. Ted, Christian’s father, went as far as to tell us, “If you need anything, ask.” So we asked to share Christian’s story. 

I was so proud of my team, I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night. They had gone absolutely above and beyond for this family, supporting them, guiding them, helping them through one of the most difficult experiences of their lives.

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Ted's Testimonial

See what Ted, Christian’s Dad had to say about Christian’s Celebration and his interaction with our team.

A few months have passed now. I have wanted to write about this but it was too hard. It’s still hard. I wanted to reach out to Ted and see if he would be willing to write us a review but I felt it was too soon so I held off. Finally, I got the nerve to send Ted an email. It was a big one. I asked if he would be willing to share his experience with us the world by doing some Google and Facebook reviews. I went on a GIANT limb and asked if he would be willing to make a small video (maybe next to Christian’s gravesite) describing his experience with us. It’s common to get a “review ask” in other industries, but in our industry we have to be attentive and sensitive. Ted responded pretty quickly with, “Holley, I would LOVE to help. I will work on this for you. Thanks for asking.” It floored me. He was gracious and eager to share his experience. Of course, we’re grateful to see 1-2 minute videos come through, but Ted surprised us. He sent us a wonderful 7-minute video telling Christian’s story. I was floored. Ted sent the video late on a July afternoon, and I was so moved I had to share it- I grabbed anyone who was still at the office and told them they had to see it. Christian’s memorial service was big for all of us in different ways, so seeing his father’s testimonial touched us all deeply. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room- everyone was choked up.

I was so proud of my team, I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night. They had gone absolutely above and beyond for this family, supporting them, guiding them, helping them through one of the most difficult experiences of their lives. Our work is not easy. It is so hard, and emotionally taxing, and it’s hard to go home at the end of the day without thinking of the remarkable families we get to work with. A lot of the time we’re left feeling raw- but that’s what makes it so powerful and so real. Getting this kind of feedback from a family is what really makes us sit back and go, “This is so worth it.” There’s really nothing quite like it.

 

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Saying Goodbye

Pics from the Christian’s Celebration

To my team: Let this video be a reminder that the work you do matters on so many levels. When you are down and feel like giving up, watch this video and remind yourself why you do what you do. You were made for this and so much more. Even when it’s hard, know we are all here for each other.

To our community: We will always treat your family the exact way we would want our family treated. Are we perfect? No. In fact, we are very much human! We make mistakes but hands down we work day and night to be the best we can for our community. We own our mistakes and will grow from them. The work we do matters and is an important part of the healing process. Please, as hard as it may be, don’t skip grief. It is okay to slow down and process what you are going through. You are not alone. We are here and we will continue to be here for you today, tomorrow and forever!

And finally, to Christian’s family: Thank you for sharing your story, letting us help you through your journey, and helping us know Christian. You are wonderful people and we are all so grateful to have worked with you.

Thanks for catching up with me.

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Listen In — Meet the Director

We discuss Christian and family below.

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Holley Sowards

Hi, my name is Holley with Einan’s at Sunset Funeral Home in Richland, WA. I'm a Ketchup-loving, fearless leader and Service and Operations manager who writes about resources for families recently experiencing loss.
Read more from Holley

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