Cremation Has no Limits

Ed Horn's picture


                   Cremation Has no Limits
          Recently I was directly involved with the planning of a cremation for a loved one. Being a cemeterian this was a first time experience. Up to now I had only known the pain of planning a traditional burial for my parents and grandparents.
          We cemeterians are aware of the numbers. The numbers I am referring to are not only the growth of cremations as an alternative, but the percentage of each dollar devoted to Funeral Homes versus cemeteries. According to recent reports an 80 to 20 percent advantage to Funeral Homes.
          It has long been perceived that cremations were cutting into the bottom line of many Funeral Homes. One would think the dire stories foretold the imminent demise of many. To some cremations are spoken of as a cancer that will devour Funeral Homes. It is as if families who prefer cremations are on a personal vendetta to destroy a tradition.
          I was requested by a family member to recommend a Funeral Director to attend to the needs following the loss of their mother. Within short distances are several Homes. It would be wrong to state that any could not serve the purposes better than any other. But as I had recent contact with a local Director who impressed me I referred the “call” to him.
          This particular Funeral Director appeared interested in understanding the desires of the families who felt confident in relying upon his suggestions. He listened rather than attempted to interpret and direct. It was clear that his interest was to satisfy what the family wanted rather than an interest in selling what was best for his business.
          As four of us huddled within the warm comfort of the Director’s office he responses made an awful day easier to confront. At no time did he discuss or recommend alternatives that would have better served his own financial interests. As a result what to many would have been a “poor” call turned into something else entirely. 
          Though cremation had been previously selected in respect to the wishes of the deceased nothing else had been decided. Cremation was not viewed as an inexpensive means to dispose of a loved one. What was expected was memorialization and celebration that honored the deceased and made it obvious to all that the deceased was dearly loved.
          We arranged for all the items normally related to a traditional burial. A viewing was arranged. Priests were requested. Visitation was extended due to the overflow of friends and family wishing to express their condolences. A wood casket was selected. The full artistry of the Director was relied upon. Flowers, cards, notices and all the normal articles one finds at a Funeral Home were present.
          The cremation did occur within St. Michael’s. I scheduled extra time for the service realizing what the family hoped to accomplish. We arranged for a full Mass within our All Soul’s Chapel & Crematory. The Priest was a man I knew who would insure that the family received the comfort needed at such a time. Almost one hundred people were present to honor the deceased and to support the family.
          Many who attended found it hard to leave following the Mass. It was painfully difficult to leave considering the consolation we received through the presence of loved ones. The appreciation voiced by so many for the attention and caring provided by the Funeral Director and by St. Michael’s Crematory resulted in several inquires for pre-need arrangements.
          My business side of the experience did not find it remarkable that doing what was right had rewards. The personal side of the loss emphasized that a Funeral Director who cares for those who extent their trust has rewards that defy the perception that cremations represent a threat to the profession.