Sandi Heinrich, the owner and founder of Epic Memorials in Bellingham, has an aura about her that feels inviting, trustworthy, and professional — all qualities that come in handy when working with families who wish to celebrate a loved-one in a unique way.
For Heinrich, the job is personal. In 2012, her son Asher passed away. In the wake of his death, she spent four months planning a celebration that would honor Asher’s life, including his dream of becoming an airplane pilot.
“When my son died, people were asking immediately, ‘Oh, would next Friday be a good day for his memorial?’ And I couldn’t even wrap my head around the fact that I need to do this, let alone do it that fast,” Heinrich says.
Asher’s memorial went off without a hitch, from the missing man flyby of the first plane he ever flew to the 999 red balloons released into the sky. It was truly a celebration of Asher’s life, as well as the lives of everyone he’d touched.
Wanting others to have a positive, individualized memorial like the one she gave her son, Heinrich started Epic Memorials in 2019. She now offers full-service event planning — from budget development to transportation services — so families can have the time and space to grieve. She also offers living memorials for those who wish to celebrate their life in the presence of friends and family.
“I love throwing a beautiful party. I always have, since I was a kid, really,” Heinrich says.
The standard funeral, she thinks, is rushed and impersonal. A one-size-fits-all memorial simply doesn’t work, which is why each memorial she plans is unique, requiring a different level of participation and care. So far, she’s created beautiful events for a former firefighter who loved Burning Man, a dispatcher who was also a Roller Betty, and a loving mother of three.
For some, the idea of being a professional memorial planner might seem grim, but for Heinrich, it’s something she feels uniquely qualified for.
“I have an ability to be in that space with people without it taking on too much, just because nothing is heavier than what I already carry,” she says.
Through planning a personalized memorial for someone, Heinrich says she falls a little bit in love with them.
“Where do you put these people in your heart, you know, or in your mind? I’m never going to ever talk to them, but I’m doing this really intimate thing for them,” she says.
She finds the best thing she can do is listen to what the person’s friends and family loved most about them and try to incorporate these qualities into her own life. Whether it’s their joy or their love, Heinrich folds them into herself and remembers them. 512 S. 39th St., Bellingham, 360.319.8001, epicmemorials.com