Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Christina Andreola of New Narrative Memorials. Christina is an event planner for memorials, celebrations of Life, funerals and any other event that commemorates an end-of-life event. She is driven and passionate about creating experiences for families and loved ones of those who have passed away. She works to memorialize that person's memory and tell their story in a way that represents them.
In the video above you can listen to the YouTube version of the video of the interview. The full episode is on Facebook as a Facebook live. If you prefer to listen as a podcast you can find me audio on anchor here.
Christina was always passionate about telling people's stories. When she had the unique opportunity to help tell her uncle story in the form of his celebration of life after he passed away, she, of course, said yes. She had already been a part of the event planning industry in Canada for a number of years.
Her family felt she was an obvious choice to plan what would be a large-scale event for her uncle's celebration of life. From lining up caterers to securing the venue, Christina planned out the event so her family could process and morn uncle’s loss.
“I was the one who used all of my connections to book the caterer. Pointed my aunt in the right direction of florists or greenery. I also helped gather supplies for a scrapbook that we created. I knew exactly what to do for the slideshow so vividly because I had done it so many times before in other event capacities.
During the visiting, I walked outside and looked at all the little platters on the cocktail tables that we had. Thinking about everything I had done to get us to this moment, I thought to myself, why isn't anybody else doing this? After a little bit of research, I confirmed there really was nobody else in Vancouver doing it. And so I decided that I wanted to change the perception [of funerals]. I wanted to be a resource for families who needed it.”
Christina supports families in some of the hardest moments of their lives. Her approach allows families to make intentional personal choices that are implemented with love and attention to detail by Christina and her team. Each event begins with a conversation between you, your family, and Christina. She knows how hard it can be to navigate all of the personalities in a family and getting things exactly the way Mom wanted. Together you will create and experience a magical expression of your loved one's story.
New Narrative meets you wherever you are in the process. Whether you know exactly what the memorial will look like or no idea at all. They have done large and small scale memorials. One of the large scale events was an 80s themed party. It was a celebration that told the deceased’s story, how she lived, loved, and danced. They have also done events where the family has requested that all they do on the day of was just walk in, do their thing and walk out.
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It’s incredible to think that we live these extraordinary lives full of accomplishments, achievements, rule-breaking, and FUN - and go out with the traditional services. The quote from Dayna West was recently featured in a @washingtonpost article. Dayna spoke highly of her father’s Celebration, aptly titled, #memorialapalooza While the options for a funeral, memorial, or Celebration of Life are all out there - and equally meaningful - it can be incredibly empowering to design an event that reflects an extraordinary life lived. We’re ready to help you create a New Narrative and help your family break the ‘rules’ of the modern-day funeral service. #newnarrativememorials
“That's the best part of what I do and what makes what why I think I'm I'm really good at it is because I can come into any situation and kind of pick up that vibe and that the nuance of however your family is and who is planning and just kind of take it from there. It's also great to have a planner just in case. You think you can do it all on your own, but at the 11th hour if you can't. It’s our job to take some of these tasks away and to help you make the day as easy as possible.”
What’s in a name?
“The name “New Narrative Memorials” actually is an homage to my uncle, who was an English teacher. He would always It was so funny, he would always mark students papers with “where’s your narrative? Find the narrative!” I was inspired by that story one day as I was looking at the bookmark from his Memorial on the fridge of an Airbnb. I think I yelled at it, “What do I need to name my company?” And then it was like, Oh, yeah, this is New Narrative. I love that I get to carry a little bit of him and that his memory is still around.”
Changing end of life perceptions
The funeral and death industry has long been a dreary, depressing, sad and dark expression of a loved one. The next generation of funeral and death industry professionals are encouraging families and loved ones to embrace joy in their end-of-life celebrations. Now, the focus is on the story of the person and the way they lived their life rather than how and why they died. While this change has been happening for a while I believe Gen-X and Millennials will be at the forefront and forerunners of this culture change. Christina with New Narrative memorials is one of those leading the charge.
“You get to meet a lot of people and a lot of you hear a lot of amazing stories and get to help families tell these stories through their events. A celebration of life or memorial offers an opportunity to see all the little pockets of people from different parts of their life, come together and share stories and be able to all be together. Each person has a different perspective of who this person was.”
Being a resource at the end of life
“The resources page of my website has a ton of links, I'm always adding to it. I love adding links to other people that are doing amazing work in this field. You will also find some interactive games and books and podcasts. There's a lot of folks out there who are working really hard to change the way we approach the end of life. The work they are doing is so important. I encourage all of you, please feel free to send me an email. I am more than happy to share stories or to meet you over Twitter, or to hop on a phone call to chat.”
The up and coming people of the death industry are loving, intentional, and storytellers. It is through their eyes that we may see joy embraced at the end of life.