by Cheryl Godbout, General Manager, Carothers Funeral Home at Gaston Memorial Gardens
The number of families choosing cremation have been steadily increasing for years. In many parts of the country, cremation has surpassed burial as the preferred method of disposition. If your end-of-life plans include cremation, congratulations on taking the time to think seriously about what you want, researching your options and making an informed decision. If you are just beginning to think about your end-of-life options and are considering cremation, there are some things to consider.
Cremation is simply a method of disposition. It does not replace the funeral or memorial service. As human beings, we all need to face and process the death of a loved one. Experts tells us that there are things we need to do when a loved one dies in order to maintain our long-term mental health. None of us is ever prepared for the death of someone we love, so observing traditions and rituals can provide us with a road map to get us through the initial days and weeks following the death.
It is natural to feel very strong emotions when someone dies. The funeral or memorial service is an appropriate place to express those emotions. The produce section of the grocery store is not. Family and friends can provide essential support at a time when the world appears to be too heavy to bear. Being in the company of others who share fond memories and the pain of the loss helps us to lighten the burden. Seeing a loved one through the eyes of others can help us see them in a whole new light and help us to understand their place in a larger community.
Many times, long illnesses or advanced age makes the appearance of the loved one difficult during their last hours. Seeing them in photographs and videos from happy times at the memorial service provides more positive final memories for family and friends to cherish in the future. Memorial services provide the freedom to celebrate a very special life in a very special way, anywhere that is meaningful for the family. From sun-kissed celebrations at the beach to hearty toasts at the local watering hole, memorial services can truly reflect the life that was lived.
When making cremation plans, it is important to include the plans for where we want our ashes to go. Too many times, boxes of ashes or urns end up stored in closets or attics because the family did not have other plans. None of these are fitting resting places for beloved family members. There are many choices when it comes to disposition of ashes. Most families continue to bury the ashes in family plots at the cemetery. Others choose cemetery niches which are above ground structures designed specifically for the placement of an urn. Both of these provide family and friends have a place to visit and reflect.
Other popular options include placement in a memorial reef or scattering the ashes at sea or other favorite locations. Family members need to be aware of laws regarding the scattering of human cremated remains. Funeral professionals can help make plans that are both appropriate and legal.
Many families find comfort in keeping a bit of the ashes in a piece of specially designed jewelry or in a keepsake urn. Some families incorporate them in to fine pieces of glassware or art. Some religious practices prohibit cremation or separating the ashes. Religious advisors can provide guidance.
No matter what the final decisions are, honest communication with those we love is essential in creating plans that honor our lives and fulfill the needs of those who will be left behind.