It is not surprising that the amount of people choosing cremation as an alternative to burial has skyrocketed in the last two decades. One reason - a reason commonly associated with this method - is lowered cost. Cremation services can be direct, meaning no services with the body present and the cremation happening as soon as legalities allow. Wakes and funeral services with the body present can also take place before a cremation as well. Regardless of which services take place, the long term opportunity remains - what to do with the ashes?
The biggest advantage with thinking about what to do with your loved one's ashes is time. You have time to decide and plenty of options to choose from. The guidelines I provide the families I serve is
- To think of something that is meaningful and connected to the life they lived and the love you have for them.
- To remember that you can decide on multiple options, for example: you can scatter some, put small amounts in different keepsakes for family members and bury the rest.
- To think in the long term.
The third guideline I emphasize the most. Thinking long term means years, decades and generations down the road. With a burial, the long term is taken care of by cemeteries. Your future ancestors will utilize cemeteries to trace back and connect with their history. When ashes are placed in an urn with no name engraved, chances are, two or three generations in the future, they won't know who these ashes were. Burial of ashes is a great option and still allows you to do or create something meaningful with a portion of the ashes before the burial. Creating something personalized from the ashes or placing the ashes in a personalized urn leads to what I call the "Heirloom Effect", meaning they will be passed down from generation to generation as a treasured symbol of a loved one, often accompanied with stories, memories and history.
The guests on today's episode are my three favorite options; two that create treasured heirlooms and one that provides a permanent resting place while also helping to solve an oceanic environmental need.
Henry Duquette, founder and talented artist from Forever In Glass, utilizes your loved ones ashes into one-of-a-kind glass-blown pendants, paperweights and sculptures. He has mastered his own technique in creating these pieces without the presence of bubbles - a very common problem glass-blowers encounter when working with ashes. His work is astoundingly beautiful - my favorite are the turtles - and all made locally here in Somerset, MA. He even offers a warranty on his work and you won't find anyone with better service, care and attention to detail than Henry Duquette and Forever In Glass.
Silva-Faria Funeral Homes is an authorized dealer for Forever In Glass as well as Eternal Reefs and LifeGem. If you are a funeral director interested in working with Henry, George or LifeGem to serve your families, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to Henry at forever-in-glass.com, eternalreefs.com or LifeGem.com
I was honored to also have George Frankel, CEO of Eternal Reefs, as a guest because personally, I have been in love with everything Eternal Reefs provides for families and the environment for years and plan on having this done with my ashes when the time comes.
To quote George, "Eternal Reefs offers families a way to honor their loved ones by placing cremated remains into reef balls to make a lasting underwater memorial.". These artificial reefs are dedicated to preserve, protect and enhance the national coastal reef formations and have been placed in 20 locations off the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia - with new locations added each year.
When choosing Eternal Reefs for a loved one, families are able to participate in the process as much or as little as they choose. Their are a lot of interactive elements to the process, like helping to cast the reef ball, mixing the cremated remains with the cement, place handprints and write messages in the wet cement. They can also attend the placement and dedication by going out on the ocean and watching their loved one's reef ball as it gets lowered into the ocean - a meaningful and beautiful setting for a final goodbye. In the future, family members can take a scuba dive tour to see the memorial reef in it's splendor, covered in coral, oysters and likely surrounded by beautiful fish.
This option provides a meaningful service experience and also a permanent marker attached with a story of nostalgia to pass on to future generations - all while helping the environment and symbolizing a person's love for the ocean.
The third option I highlighted today embodies "The Heirloom Effect". When I think of a treasured heirloom, passed down through generations, enlaced with love and memories, I think of a diamond. LifeGem is is a certified, high-quality diamond created from a lock of hair, or the cremated ashes of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life.
You read that right, even a lock of hair. This option is available even for those loved ones who aren't cremated. This is all possible because of a very important element we are all partly made from - the same element that makes diamonds - carbon. Other than being created in their lab, LifeGem diamonds are molecularly identical to naturally occurring diamonds.
As a funeral director, I had the opportunity to see these LifeGems in person a few years ago. Let me tell you, I was entranced by their beauty! You can have them made colorless or in red, green, yellow or blue. The customization options are endless with choices on the cuts and carats of your LifeGem.
NOTE: All of these options are also available for the cremated remains of cherished pets as well.
On today's show, I also mentioned a mother who lost her son that had a true passion for travel. She reached out on Facebook, asking people to spread his ashes so he could go to places he never got to visit in his life. The response was unbelievable and his ashes have been scattered all over the world.
I may have only highlighted a few options here, but know that the opportunities are endless. Armed with your unique knowledge of your loved one, a little creativity and time to reflect, you have everything you need to let the perfect memorialization come to you.
The Silva Lining is thankful for our wonderful sponsor, St. Anthony of Padua Credit Union. We are proud to be sponsored by such an incredible bank, that in an age of conglomerate banks treating people like numbers, maintains a relationship with its members based on trust, friendly service and loyalty. With competitive rates for savings accounts and various loans, St. Anthony of Padua can handle all of your financial needs. Convenient online banking and more information at www.stanthonyofpaduafcu.com