About Michael R. Goodlander and the care provided by him and his staff

I fell in love at a very young age. It was not to my wife - that would come later - but to funeral service and the humble dedication of serving others.

During middle school, high school and my time at Niagara County Community College, I would assist at my uncle’s funeral home in all aspects of funeral service. After studying at Niagara County Community College, I knew that funeral service was my passion and nothing would stop me. I then enrolled in Simmons Institute of Funeral Service in Syracuse, NY. Simmons was an accredited funeral service trade school, highly ranked in the nation. Simmons was different from other schools offering a mortuary science program, in which students, beginning the very first day, were given a pager and would report back to the campus when a death occurred; preparing them for the unpredictable demands of funeral service. The students would assist in the care transport from the place of passing, the embalming and any other preparations that needed to take place. Quite often, local funeral homes would hire students to work services and all aspects of funeral service. This is where I excelled. I would soon realize that hours in a class room could never equate to the reality of walking through grief with people that had lost a loved one. I took advantage of all of this. Instead of returning home on the weekends, I was given a permanent pager by the school. As a result, upon graduating, I was awarded several awards in recognition for my hands-on experience at the school itself and for the many extra hours employed by local funeral homes. Prior to graduating from Simmons, one of the funeral homes that I assisted during my education offered me a full-time position. I stayed in the Syracuse area for several months and returned to the Niagara Falls area to be closer with my family. At first, I second guessed my decision to leave Syracuse, but soon realized that God had other plans. Shortly after returning to Niagara Falls, I was given the opportunity to purchase Otto Redanz Funeral Home in the Town of Niagara. To find a funeral home for sale is rare. To find the one you want is almost impossible. Some say at 24 years old I was lucky; I say I was blessed. I believe my calling is in funeral service and continue to minister grieving families through the funeral home. For me, it's the service ... service to the family going through a horrible experience and walking them through it. Those in grief need people to guide them and stand with them while they walk through it. They deserve a certain level of dignity and respect and at that time, for me, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

At the onset of purchasing the funeral home, I began working hard to set it apart from other local funeral homes. There is an "intense" focus on service, which is what this business is about. In hindsight, I do not think that the way other funeral home owners serve the community is wrong, I feel they are incomplete. There is more to funeral service than just arranging a funeral. We go to great lengths to serve families. I have listened for the things that are important to the families I serve and made adjustments or additions along the way. Now we sit in 2019 and the needs of the families we serve have changed, so I simply evolve with them, accommodating every possible need. Myself and my staff literally take care of everything for you. From arranging the funeral to whatever needs to be done to assist in celebrating a life once lived and ultimately being intricate in the beginning stages of the healing process; and after the funeral…..we are still there to continue to serve you in every capacity.

Moving forward, I am putting in a pet loss area and plans are being discussed to integrate new technologies throughout the property and expand or modernize certain areas of the home to better serve the community, including a hospitality room (now that food and drink are legal in funeral homes). Recently, I installed an arrangement suite; a more comfortable area for families to discuss funeral arrangements.  I believe that the families we serve feel much more at ease and realize that I am just another person, like themselves, helping and walking right along with them on their journey. Sometimes in this world, we need another person to lean on, and I am happy to be that person.

In 2015, we developed our mission statement to briefly define us and set us apart; Our mission… is to continue, after 84 years of Christian Service, to be the leading funeral home, providing the highest quality service and professionalism that our families deserve and expect, regardless of financial backgrounds.

Today, I live in the Town of Niagara with my supporting and loving wife, and Niagara County Coroner, Laura Sweney-Goodlander and my three children, Christopher, Addison and Evelyn, who, in hopes, would continue my dedication to funeral service and follow in my footsteps.

In closing, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t graciously thank God for His movement and His sovereignty in my life. All because my life, this business of funeral service is not about me, but about serving people, His people, serving others and most importantly bringing Glory to God; putting Jesus, His grace, mercy, comfort, promises, sovereignty, loving nature, and his power on display; magnifying Him.  My life-verse, that I don’t try to define it, but that it defines me; Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life-1 Timothy 1:15-16. as well as “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5

Michael Goodlander on Grief...

Grief, a painful, normal, human response to significant loss, is ever so unique, as the worst kind of grief is yours. Every relationship holds a special and unique significance to us, that is why grief is so personal.  Everyone grieves in their own, unpredictable way and on their own schedule and it will be finished when it’s finished. “He who has no time to mourn, has no time to mend.” The best advice anyone can give is to feel what you feel and know you will get through this. 

During the first 30 days of grieving the loss of a loved one, you will experience your own version of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Their pain is over, and now yours begins. Though this may be one of the most difficult times in your life, acknowledging your feelings and relying on support can help you face this journey and get through it, moment by moment and day by day. The death of a loved one is one of life’s biggest stressors. Whether the death of a loved one was sudden or expected, you may feel like you're in a fog of grieving, unable to function cognitively or remember simple things. This is a common emotional response that helps you cope with the trauma of your loss.

We know firsthand what you are going through; you are not and will never be alone in this! The arrangements are finished. Life must go on….so we are told. But, it is so hard!!  Life pushes us forward, but feel stuck in one spot. STOP!!! Breathe!!! Grieve!!!  

You have a friend in us.  We are not just here during the immediate time of the loss of a loved one; we are different.  As we promise, we are here to walk with you on your grief journey and here to help you cope and eventually heal.  A “journey” is defined as traveling from one place to another, normally over a long period of time. So as you travel this journey to reach your destination of healing, know we are here and as hard as it may be, take time to grieve and remember there is no set time limit.

As you travel on this journey, nothing we say can fix your grief, but know that you have friends and professional guides in us; you are never alone.  Remember effective grief work is not done alone…. we will be your guide and are here to listen, understand, and care for you and your family with the upmost tenderness and compassion. Most importantly, the specific needs of your family are met with dignity and respect, exceeding your expectations. Our calling is to walk with you through your journey and to provide you with exceptional service and compassionate care; being intricate in helping you cope and eventually heal.

May the God who loves you bless you and console you always.

Michael and Laura Goodlander


When did cremation become and either/or??

As a funeral director and caregiver, walking along side people during their grief journey, I can tell you firsthand, without a doubt, that the grieving process is carried out better when there is a funeral ceremony or at the very least a time for family and friends to gather.  It is important to recognize that funerals are for the living…us left behind. It has been studied and proven that through the funeral process, a number of emotional needs are met for those who grieve.

Traditionally, funerals have consisted of calling hours with an open or closed casket, a funeral at the funeral home or place of worship, followed by committal prayers and interment at the cemetery.  Cremation has also been an option for many, many, many years.  However, cremation is just another form of disposition-the end result of our “earthly shell.” Somewhere along the way things got misinterpreted and started a trend!!  It somehow became an “either/or” decision.  When talking to people about their wishes, I commonly only hear one of two requests; 1-a traditional funeral or 2-cremation.  The problem began, for one, due to the lack of education on the topic of the value of a funeral and that’s where us funeral directors have failed you. However there is another issue that I hear first hand; funeral professionals poorly preparing the decedent. Mortuary Science is an art above all and unfortunately poor preparation and cosmetic work has led to a rise in cremation. Hear me out...does it make sense that your loved one had a terminal illness, lost half of his/her body mass, was hooked up to every tube that you could barely see his/her face, was in a traumatic accident then you walk into the funeral home for the first viewing and he/she looks worse than at the worst part of their life. Does this make any sense??My talent is to recreate your loved ones appearance to before the illness or trauma as a part of the grief journey and healing process and to provide you comfort.   “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

This is the point of this letter to you; to educate, to “comfort” my community and to bring back the  traditional values. Traditional funerals, I have found, give the family and others better closure PERIOD!!!!  When you go to a funeral home and there are just pictures, you may feel disappointed that you couldn’t say good-bye and are left with unanswered “what ifs.”  Cremation, mixed with traditional values, as it was intended to be, can also provide the same closure us humans need.  There are literally so many variations to service options and I can guide you in a way to meet your needs.  With cremation, calling hours with or without a viewing with a funeral service at the funeral home or place of worship is an option keeping the traditional values.  After the funeral service, the deceased is then cremated (or in some cases has been cremated before services) and the cremains are then returned to the family or can be buried or inurned in a cemetery or niche, giving the survivors a place to go to honor and memorialize the deceased person helping with the healing process.   See with cremation, the only thing that needs to change is the disposition, that the body was cremated.  The funeral home still provides the same services and professionalism.  Everything else can be the same and the beauty in a funeral is still obtainable.    

So it seems today, one of the issues is cost and I completely understand.  Anytime cremation is chosen, anywhere in the equation, the end result is lesser cost, we all know that. But if I can make a positive lasting vision of restoring your loved ones appearance, why wouldn’t you opt for that option? An option to say goodbye one last time. That time of a final goodbye you will never regret, but you may regret not. Trust me, regret mixed with grief is a dangerous combination. Listen, we never turn anyone away, regardless of financial circumstances.  Yes we are a business, but more over a ministry. I am here to serve and am honored when you  choose me to do so. I have access to many different resources to allow families to grieve the way they need to with the funeral service type selected keeping finances at the forefront. Listen, it always works out somehow. I faithfully believe, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” We don’t require money upfront.  My true concern is YOU, YOUR family, YOUR WELL-BEING, YOUR journey of grief and YOUR healing......whatever it takes.  This is my promise to you. I encourage you to give me a call if I can answer any of your questions or concerns.  

May the God who loves you, bless you and console you always,

Michael R. Goodlander

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