Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day: Begin the conversation with loved ones about how they want to be honored

military-cemetary

We’re often so busy living Memorial Day Weekend that we forget the original purpose of the day – to honor veterans who have passed. “This Memorial Day, whether you work in the death care industry, between opening day at the pool and the family cook-out, take time to remember our nation’s veterans who have gone before you and loved ones who are no longer with you, and to discuss memorialization options with relatives,” says Robert M. Boetticher, Jr., president of the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Data shows that more and more people are choosing to be cremated rather than have a traditional ground burial. But celebration of the deceased’s life doesn’t end when the ashes are placed in the urn.

Unfortunately, a majority of family members are indecisive about how to give the remains a final resting place. Many people are unaware of the myriad cremation memorialization options, such as garden features, a niche in a columbaria or custom-designed jewelry.

Boetticher suggests using these 10 questions to help identify how you or your loved ones want to be remembered.
  1. Where would you like your final resting place? Should it be your hometown, where you retired or near a loved one?
  2. Is it important to you that people have a place to go that has your name and serves as a place to remember you? Keep in mind that giving survivors a place to go aids in their healing process.
  3. Would you prefer your remains to be stored in a permanent location?
  4. Is there a setting or place that is most important to you? Cemeteries today provide many options from cremation gardens and mausoleums to memory vases and benches that house cremated remains.
  5. Is the environment important to you? If so, consider choosing a biodegradable urn or other eco-friendly option.
  6. Are you open to survivors creating personal keepsakes with your remains? Innovations such as custom lockets, gemstones and vases are growing in popularity.
  7. Are you comfortable with survivors having a ceremony to celebrate your life? If so, do you have specific songs, flowers or other things you want during the service?
  8. Do you like the idea of providing a story-telling component for future generations? Options range from memorabilia to digital life stories.
  9. Who will be your spokesperson and work with the funeral home on your behalf?
  10. Are you financially prepared for these decisions? Have you been setting money aside to cover your wishes?
CANA members know that most families are hesitant to have end-of-life conversations. However, Boetticher says “the discomfort you feel discussing final memorialization with family now is nothing compared to having to make decisions for a loved one without knowing his or her wishes, and while you are still mourning their death.” This conversation is important no matter who you are or where you work. This Memorial Day is a good time to start asking these questions.

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