The co-owners and funeral directors of Serenity Life Celebrations started their funeral home in Waco from diverse perspectives.
Marlin native Adrian Green grew up around the funeral industry and was familiar with its workings. His wife, Renae, was inspired to put her personal touch on funerals after the sudden passing of her father.
They opened Serenity Life Celebrations at 111 S. 35th St. in August 2018, offering funerals, memorials and cremations.
The Greens came up with the name for their business because they wanted it to reflect two aspects: the Serenity Prayer and that funerals should be a celebration of the deceased’s life.
“We decided to bring a funeral home to Waco and have it be one that will serve the needs of all people,” Adrian said. “And to make it affordable. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to bury a loved one.”
Adrian said being around a funeral home was part of his childhood.
Adrian’s father, FA Green Sr., owns Robertson Funeral Home in Marlin. Adrian was constantly there while growing up, he said.
“I was there day and night and I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to help people in their time of need,” he said.
When he was younger his duties included detailing the funeral cars or helping out at graveside services.
He did more at Robertson Funeral Home as he grew older, and later worked at a couple of Dallas-area funeral homes while he was in school. After that, he returned to Marlin and worked with his father again.
“But then we wanted to branch out on our own,” Adrian said. “We wanted to do something different. Part of that is being available to all races.”
Renae brings her own approach to Serenity Life Celebrations, especially after the unexpected passing of her father, Claude Griggs, in 2015.
“The death of my father changed my perspective on funerals,” she said. “It wasn’t anything about with the way his service was done, but I knew the experience I wanted to have. And that’s what I want to do with Serenity Life Celebrations.
“That’s a difficult time for a family and we want to soften it as much as we can. We want to be positive in some kind of way.”
Families have an understandable anxiety about going to a funeral home and dealing with the planning of a service, she added.
“That time I was on the other side,” Renae said.
The “Serenity” portion of the name comes from the Serenity Prayer, Renae said.
“I’ve always liked the Serenity Prayer, and it’s so applicable at the time of death,” she said.
The Serenity Prayer begins with the words “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
“Death is something we cannot change,” she said, adding that along with the apprehension of having to hold a funeral service, some members of a family may arrive with a feeling of guilt or believe they have some burden of blame, she said.
The Greens say it’s important to put the families at as much ease as possible throughout the process.
“It should be a positive experience even though it’s a trying time,” Adrian said. “We want to be the premier funeral service in Waco.”
Adrian’s experience helps him understand the business side of funerals while Renae brings her creative touch into the process in numerous ways.
Perhaps the most apparent thing the Greens do is personalizing the casket of the deceased.
Using a computer program, Renae is able to create a customized casket wrap for its exterior The wrap reflects something about the individual, whether it’s photographs of them to images or designs that showcase their interests.
Examples of past customization have been motorcycles, barbecue and even purses for a woman who loved her purses.
“We do it all,” she said. “We cater to the individual.”
When well-known bassist Tony Calhoun died in November, Serenity Life Celebrations personalized his casket by showcasing his love of music.
The registry book Serenity Life Celebrations provides is a hardbound keepsake. Its pages include a replica copy of the program used at the service. Each registry page where visitors write their name and address has a silhouette-style photo of the deceased.
“I think it means so much to the families to have this,” Renae said.
During the service itself, funeral attendants wear a keepsake button that has a photo of the deceased. Because the funeral is meant to be a life celebration, they add decorations to help reflect that.
Serenity Life Celebrations also can offer a horse and carriage processional to the church or cemetery if the family desires.
Renae provides a gift to the family as token of their gratitude.
“We honor insurance and pre-planning from other funeral homes,” Adrian said. Serenity Life Celebrations even provides free notary service to anyone requiring that for paperwork, he added.
The Greens give back to the community in other ways. Renae is planning a Feeding Mouths of the South barbecue event for this summer.
Serenity Life Celebrations is a family effort. Daughters Mia and Laela assist in a variety of ways.
Mia, 19, has her provisional license. She helps direct the services and puts together the slide shows that are displayed during viewings and before the service.
Laela, 10, when she’s not in school, has served as a funeral attendant at funerals, put together flower arrangements, and has taken photos.
The daughters said they are proud to be a part of the funeral home.
“It’s a blessing to be in a family that’s so loving,” Mia said.
Laela added, “They do a wonderful job.”
Adrian said he’s happy they are able to give a more uplifting experience to the funeral process.
“We want to take what can be a dreadful situation and make it a celebration of life,” Adrian said.
Serenity Life Celebrations
112 S. 35th St.