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What to do with a Loved One’s Cremains?


As cremation is gaining more and more popularity for financial reasons as well as other personal reasons, the rate of unclaimed urns is steadily climbing. Families are abandoning the urns, whether on purpose or by accident at staggering rates. States are passing laws to allow the funeral homes or cemeteries with a way of disposing the unclaimed cremains.

 Some families that do claim their loved one’s cremains may be coerced into spending hundreds of dollars on an urn. They bring it home and display it on a mantle or book shelf. Then after some time has passed the urn ends up in the closet or garage because the family doesn’t know what else to do with it.

Some families are scattering the cremains in the ocean, or in an area that was a favorite spot for their loved one. The problem with scattering your loved ones cremains is you can’t pick them back up when you may later decide you want a permanent place for your loved one’s remains. 

I think you will be surprised to know that only 35% of the people who choose to be cremated are memorialized. Their remains end up on a shelf, in a drawer, or even out in the garage. I think it is because people just don’t know what to do with the remains once they get them. Many people do not know what a columbarium is, they have never heard of it. But with cremation on the rise, more and more churches, universities, and organizations are building columbaria on their property as a service to their members. 

It is important to have a place to visit because it provides a focal point for memorializing your deceased loved one. I think we all have a desire to be remembered and to remember our loved ones. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknowns and Vietnam “Wall” in Washington, D.C are examples of memorialization which demonstrate that we have always honored our dead. Psychologists tell those who suffer the loss of a loved one to establish a permanent memorial. They say that the remembrance practices, from the memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one's remains. Memorialization assures the living that the person we lost will never be forgotten. Having their cremains put into a niche in a columbarium gives us a place to visit, and gives a peace of mind knowing that our special person is “close by”. 

My granddaughter told me that she went to a cemetery and that it was creepy. I told her that she was thinking wrong, that she should read the headstones and realize that those people are people that someone loved and cared about. When she reads their name, at that moment they become noticed again and recognized as a person. Doesn’t it make you wonder what their life was like?

What you say, what you do, how you treat others, what you think matters. It is the people we impact. The people that are in our lives we touch. Maybe it is even that person we smiled at the grocery store yesterday, or the elderly man whose story we listened to while waiting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Dr. Seuss wrote a book called “Horton Hears a Who” (one of my childhood favorites), the meaning of the book is, a persons a person no matter how small. This is why we are passionate about what we do. We believe a columbarium belongs on your church or organization campus, or a tribute tower or memory wall. Because EVERY person matters.

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