Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cremation is no less important

Ethan Darby,
Director of Business
This article originally appeared in the March issue of Funeral Business Advisor.

Imagine you are with a family that has just lost their father. You listen to their stories and learn about his life. During the conversation, they mention that he wanted to be cremated because he was a simple man, and didn’t want to make his death a “big production.” So do you flip your presentation book to the direct cremation section and grumble to yourself about how no one appreciates good funeral service anymore? Or do you start to think creatively about how you might display the urn during the visitation?

A family who chooses cremation is no less important than a family who chooses a traditional burial. No matter what form of disposition they choose, the family has still lost a loved one and is healing from their loss. Their loved one was important, and their life mattered.

As a fourth generation member of a business in the funeral industry, I have seen many different celebrations of life, including traditional services with the body present and cremation services where an urn or photograph was displayed at the front of the room. And, do you know the difference between them? Just two things: the way the body was presented and how the family chose to memorialize their loved one. At both kinds of services, friends and family gathered to share their condolences and grieve their loss. Each included music, prayers, kind words and plenty of tears. Each honored a life well lived.

It seems to me that cremation has most of us in the funeral industry nervous about the future of our industry. We worry that when people choose to cremate their loved one, they are choosing not to use the services that we offer in either our funeral homes or cemeteries. But, that does not have to be the case. Instead of assuming the worst, we have to educate families on the importance of honoring their loved one’s life and creating a permanent place of memorialization to honor them.

Cremation offers funeral homes, cemeteries and memorial parks a lot of opportunity to increase and expand the variety of their product selection. At each national convention I attend, I see new products designed to help families memorialize their loved ones. 

But remember, when families come to you for a cremation, they may not know anything about their options. Just like we educate families about the importance of a burial vault and the different casket options, we need to educate them about the importance of a ceremony when cremation is chosen and the many unique memorialization options that cremation allows.

We need to make sure families know that when they choose cremation, they have just as many, if not more, memorialization options available to honor their loved one. Show them a custom bronze urn with photographs of a loved one or a piece of beautiful cremation jewelry. Tell them about how a memorial rock can hold cremated remains. Explain the benefits of having a space in a niche tower. Talk about in-ground interment options. Show them a memorial bench in a cemetery or a bronze plaque on a memorial wall.

No matter what form of disposition a family chooses for a loved one, they need to have peace of mind in knowing that their loved one’s life mattered. As long as the families we serve understand that cremation is no less important than that of a traditional burial, we can focus on what really matters – helping the family begin to heal.

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