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New business provides guide for those grieving and making funeral decisions

Life can be compared to the passing of the seasons. Seasons Funeral Planning Services helps families deal with the maze of decisions one must make after a loved one dies.

The new business at 7469 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Suite 170, is owned by former state Sen. Allison Copening.

“I just felt funerals needed to be more personalized,” Copening said. “I’d gone to some that were very somber, that didn’t really capture the essence of the person who had died, and I walked away feeling like that person didn’t really get the tribute that he or she deserved. … I feel like we needed to honor our dead better.”

Her brother, Michael Mellott, died in 2008, four months after being diagnosed with melanoma. He was 46.

“We really didn’t prepare,” Copening said. “We had five days and were running around trying to figure out what we needed to do — what type of service, what type of burial clothes, choosing a casket, arrange for a video (tribute), where to hold the service and set up the reception. I was grieving, but I had to suspend my grief to make sure somebody held it together to deal with (everything). … it was stage managing, like I had done for events. For somebody who knew what they were doing, it was still exhausting.”

Copening’s service starts at $255. She takes into consideration variables such as budget, religious concerns and location needs. Though not affiliated with any funeral homes, Seasons provides the general price lists for area funeral homes and can help decipher true costs. Even buying a casket is not a single decision. What might seem like a good buy at one place ends up having a number of additional fees until it’s considerably more expensive. An alternative cremation urn can cost as little as $25, she said, with a copper casket running $50,000.

Copening flipped through a 5-inch binder showing the pricing for extra charges. She ran her finger down a single-spaced list that cited charge after charge of add-ons. Seasons can tell the family members what, by law, they must do.

Henderson Municipal Judge Diana Hampton’s mother, Diane Predmore, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in November. Hampton had no idea how to plan a funeral and turned to Copening.

“Without her help, I would not have been able to (do all that it involved),” she said. “It’s not like a wedding, where you can take three to six months to plan something … I felt I was in someone’s hands that I could trust, someone who was not out to gouge me of my money, like when you go to buy a car, and they keep trying to upsell you all the extras.”

Memory items can reflect the deceased’s hobby. One man was a gardener. His family handed out a packet of seeds to plant so that when the flowers bloomed, he’d be in their thoughts. Another woman was known for baking. At her remembrance reception, copies of her favorite carrot cake recipe were handed out.

“Baby boomers definitely want more control over things, and they want something that’s a celebration of life, not the (typical) funeral-organ-music-sort-of-thing,” Copening said. “They want to leave this world in as personalized a way as they led their lives.”

Seasons also works with hospice facilities where intake clients generally have less than a week to live. A Seasons representative can meet with the family members there so they never have to be far from their loved one’s side.

Karen Rubel, vice president for development at Nathan Adelson Hospice, said a long illness means the family members are dealing with day-to-day care of the patient 24/7 and often they don’t have time to check into arrangements.

“They want to spend quality time with their loved one,” she said. “Funeral arrangements are not at the top of their minds.”

Copening also has become a “certified celebrant,” one of the few in the state. She is specially trained to design and deliver life tribute eulogies that incorporate stories, experiences and memories of the deceased. Celebrants are increasingly being used for non-religious funerals.

Jodi Paige, Seasons director of services, said the best part of her job is “helping people tell their stories and display their stories with souvenirs and mementos and keepsakes, things that resonate with people. I’ve attended funerals where it was pretty much an ‘insert name’ sermon and you don’t get a sense of who that person was. And then I’ve attended some where you leave feeling like you knew that person, and I imagine that was much more gratifying for the family.”

For more information, call 702-545-0404 or visit

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.