Working in family services at Bellerive Gardens, Jodi Wimmer is used to helping families through a time of grief. “We want to provide good service and help them find a nice resting place for their loved one in a time of need,” she says. But Wimmer urges families to think about burial plans before there is an immediate need, such as during estate planning. “We’ve had families tell us, I’m so glad my mom and dad picked out their marker. Everything is so nice for the family when they’ve done that—they can grieve without worrying, Did I do the right thing for Mom? Would she have liked that?”
Whether a family visits pre-need or in their time of grief, the process for choosing a final resting place is fairly similar, Wimmer says. “In the initial meeting, I try to focus on what part of the cemetery they would like: Do they want to be near water or a tree, or close to a road; would they like the mausoleum or do they prefer ground burial? Those are things I routinely go through, but everybody is so unique in their decision-making process that I try to tailor myself to whatever their needs are.”
To assist families in making their decision, Wimmer takes them on a tour of the cemetery, discussing what features they might prefer. “After I get a reading on what they want, I look for spots myself that I think would fall under their request, and I flag those areas and take them back out. If those aren’t sufficient, we start over. It can be a one-day process, but I’m working with one family right now who we’ve been helping for two years. We do whatever it takes to make sure they’re happy.”
After taking over Bellerive Gardens in December of 2012, owners Evan Athanas, Harry Freeman and Mike Hopson began a variety of improvements on the 32 acres of grounds. These include upgraded roads, new garden signs, updates to the office, resurfacing of the mausoleum floor, and ongoing work developing a garden for private family estates. “Families can have mausoleums designed,” Wimmer notes. “We have a wonderful team that does our designing. We start with talking to the family about what they’re interested in—things like how many crypts or niches, do they want a water feature or fountain in front—and have it drawn up for them. It’s something that can be really nice if you want to have your whole family take part.”
Bellerive Gardens is hosting a Memorial Day Weekend event on Saturday, May 25. The grounds will be open with flags available for families to place on graves, as well as services to help families find their markers.
On the Cover: Located at 740 N. Mason Road, Bellerive Gardens is a non-denominational cemetery in a beautiful, serene setting. The grounds will be open for a Memorial Day Weekend event from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. For more information, call 434-3933.