Green Burials aren’t a new concept. What is relatively new is that people now choose this eco-friendly option for personal preferences, rather than for religious reasons. As we become more conscious of our impact on the planet, we continue to find ways to help preserve it. Green burials don’t utilize any hazardous chemicals to embalm the body, and use simple caskets made of biodegradable materials with little to no metal. Traditionally, headstones or vaults aren’t used, however most cemeteries require a cement vault to house the casket.
Green burial practices have countless benefits, including helping to reduce carbon emissions, conserving natural resources and restoring natural habitats. Additionally it provides the opportunity to occupy land with inherent ecological quality and important social value.
Currently, we are the only funeral home in NH approved by the Green Burial CouncilTM, a non-profit organization, to offer a green burial package. It is a slow trend, but we expect to see more people deciding to leave their final resting place to Mother Nature. It may be scary to think about how your body will impact the environment when you pass. However, we don’t have control of when or how we pass on; therefore it is very important to begin considering burial options as early as possible, to ensure that all of your final wishes will be fulfilled.
Today is the formidable, Friday the 13th. Can you honestly say that you have never felt a twinge of concern in the morning when you realize it is Friday the 13th? For some, the phobia of this day is so real, that they forego their normal activities and don’t leave the house. I found it surprising to read that an estimated 17 to 21 million Americans suffer from “friggatriskaidekaphobia”, the official name for the phobia. Frigga, being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English and triskaidekaphobiameaning fear of the number thirteen.
Psychologists would say that bad luck is more often a state of mind. If anything negative happens on this specific date, people automatically make a permanent association between the event and the date in their minds, conveniently forgetting all those times Friday the 13th has passed uneventfully. Unfortunately, bad things happen every day and it seems that this date is no different than the other 364 days. Yet some feel that there is no coincidence and it is merely destiny. You may be comforted to know that I don’t see any trends in my industry surrounding this date. The way that I look at it, it is just another day.
Most people don’t like to think about their inevitable passing. It certainly is an uncomfortable thing to think about, never mind talk about or better yet, plan for. However, the best piece of advice I can give is to take the time to preplan your arrangements. When your time does come, wouldn’t you want to provide your family with security and alleviate some of the burden for them?
When you preplan your services, it provides your family with the comfort of knowing it’s exactly what you wanted and gives them peace-of-mind to not have to make these important decisions at one of the most stressful times they will encounter. It also can eliminate the financial burden this may pose on your survivors.
Another important benefit of preplanning is that it will cost less now than it would in the future. We allow you to lock in the cost at the today’s price. And, preplanning allows you to make payments that are convenient, rather than the lump sum that is required when someone is “at need.”
Once you have preplanned your arrangements, we suggest that you keep a copy of the documentation in a safe place and discuss it with a family member or close friend, so they are aware, and know where to find the paperwork and who to call when the time comes. Your loved ones will be very grateful that you were thinking of them and took the initiative with this caring act.
As a funeral director, I see grief, depression, tragedy and the effects of trauma each and every day. I have been in the death care industry for 24 years now and I can say that I really love the line of work that I am in. Some funeral directors find that they become numb to death, or that they absorb the grief that they are surrounded by and become depressed themselves. Perhaps it’s because I have grown up in the industry and have been surrounded by death my whole life, but I truly enjoy having the opportunity to help families at such a difficult time, and to provide the deceased with a dignified departure from this world. I feel that if you are of the right mindset, it is a tremendously rewarding profession. A profession that is often misunderstood.
I communicate with many other funeral directors from throughout the country on a regular basis. I am always comforted that, despite the somber type of work that we do, there is a healthy sense of humor and support within the industry. I also am constantly energized by innovation and motivated by looking ahead to the future and exploring possibilities. With baby boomers coming of age, who like to have things “their way,” thinking outside the box is encouraged. Consumers are becoming more creative with their final wishes, and with a lot of competition out there, I feel it is extremely important to be a leading light. This progressive attitude is gradually becoming more widely accepted within the death care industry.
It was very refreshing to read this recent news story about a West Australian funeral director who shares a very similar attitude.
With cremation becoming an increasing popular choice for many people these days, it is more and more common to scatter the remains of their loved ones by land and by sea. However, there is another option that perhaps people aren’t aware of. There are many companies that now offer ash scatterings by airplane. Aerial ash scatterings is an environmentally friendly option where the cremated remains are released into the wind, setting a person free on a final journey to their final resting place.
The service is available all over the world, and the east coast is one of the more popular destinations. As one might expect, California and Hawaii are currently the most common locations, with aerial scatterings providing the very proper “surfers farewell.” I find this to be a very interesting option for those that want an alternative and perhaps very customizable option for their deceased loved one. One could chose to scatter the remains of an avid golfer over their favorite golf course, a hiking enthusiast over the mountains, or even a baseball fan over their favorite baseball field.
This may come as a surprise to you, but funeral homes across the country – ours included – are home to many unclaimed cremated human remains, which often are referred to as “shelf people” or the “forgotten society”. Despite valiant efforts to contact surviving family members of the deceased, there are a substantial number that continue to be unclaimed.
In most cases, the person died alone and had no surviving family members to claim their remains. Sometimes, the family has asked that the remains stay at there. Other times, the family doesn’t come back to take custody due to their inability to pay, or family rifts get in the way. Also, with cremations becoming more and more popular, there are many that simply don’t know what to do with the ashes.
The state says that we can dispose of unclaimed remains after 30 days. However, if there is any known family, than there is a chance that a family member, even a future generation, may come back to claim them. These remains truly represent someone’s life, and it is important that they are treated with respect and dignity. So for these reasons, we continue to keep them indefinitely, in hopes that this happens and that their lives can be properly honored by providing them with a final resting place.
Despite the changing face of the world we live in, unfortunately, racism still exists. It’s not something that I typically would relate to the death care industry, but I learned that this industry is in fact affected, after reading a Yahoo! News story entitled “Lima: Where the pallbearers are black”. It is evident that racism is still ingrained in the culture of Lima, Peru, as the pallbearers for this South American capital are in that line of work simply because of the color of their skin.
Apparently “Afro-Peruvian” pallbearers are considered a legacy, and to have one’s body carried by a black is understood by most to be a symbol of prestige, just as it was for nobility in South America (and many other parts of the world at one time) to have an entourage of house slaves. Very sad indeed, to hear that people are forced into a profession due to lack of opportunity and racial prejudice and that despite the progression that has been made towards equality, such discrimination is still present.
I have read several articles recently about the “graying” of New Hampshire, or the “Silver Tsunami”. Apparently, the median age of the state’s population is continuing to rise – faster than any other state in the nation –with a median age of 42, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The full impact of these changes is unknown, but is expected to be serious. Experts say that an aging population requires a different mix of social, health, housing and other services than we now see.
One of the many predicted effects of our “graying” state include shifts in healthcare costs, with more people enrolling in Medicaid and more of resident’s disposable income being spent on healthcare services, instead of retail goods and services. Also, the retired population is likely to decide to spend their winters in warmer climates, which may affect retail sales, in turn affecting the value of commercial real estate. Experts say that would deflect those costs onto residents, raising property taxes.
It looks like the state now needs to find ways to repopulate the state with young-adult families and their children, and be looking for ways to convince college graduates to stay in New Hampshire to work and start their families. Property taxes are always a major driving factor in people’s choice of where to live, as are the school systems.
What do you think New Hampshire can do to keep young adults in the state, and also to attract a younger population?
I often talk about how the funeral industry has to adapt to the ever-changing needs of consumers. However, the newest service that a Virginia funeral home offers is one that is seen as innovative and convenient by some, and as a mockery by others. The unique new service is ‘drive-through viewings,’ which allows mourners to view their loved one in a casket − through a window − without having to leave their car.
The thought behind the service is that it would allow people with disabilities to easily be able to pay their respects, without having to navigate through a crowded funeral home. It is also believed to be convenient for the elderly, particularly in bad weather. And then there are those that just don’t like to grieve in public, and would like to have privacy when visiting the casket (or urn) and paying their respects.
The viewing process is a very important part of grieving and it is always good to try to find ways to make sure that everyone has the opportunity. Online streaming of visitations and funeral services has been becoming increasingly more common. Although not something we plan to be offering anytime soon, it will be interesting to see if drive-through viewings catch on.
More than ever, pets are considered to be part of the family. However, the days of burying the family pet in the backyard may soon be over, as pet “aftercare” services, including cremation, funerals and pet cemeteries, are becoming a more common choice. Pet lovers spare no expense in making sure their pets are healthy and well cared for, and providing them with all the toys, treats and comfy beds their little hearts could desire. And when those beloved family pets pass on, more and more people are opting to honor them with memorial services, and in some cases, even choose to include their pets in their plans for their own final resting place.
Pet aftercare is a growing trend and we are seeing exclusive pet funeral services popping up across the country. Pet owners can now opt to have all-inclusive funeral services, complete with visiting hours or a “reception,” caskets or urns and headstones. You can also find unique resting places for the burials of animals. Some cemeteries allow you to make arrangements to have your pet buried in your plot at your local cemetery, where you can later join them.
While cremation seems to be the most popular way for people to memorialize their pets, there is an endless array of other options to remember that special bond that you shared with your pet during their lifetime. There are companies that provide blankets with photos of your pet embroidered on them, personalized pet ringtones, garden sculptures, stained glass portraits and even many unorthodox options.
What have you done to remember and honor a beloved pet? Would you consider funeral services for your pet?