Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Allowing Families to Face Death - Watch Your Loved One's Cremation

You may have heard that cremations are on the rise. More and more people are choosing to forgo the traditional burial in a casket and do cremations. In an article posted by the Charleston Business Journal, it was reported that nearly 62% of Americans were buried after death in 2005. The National Funeral Directors Association projects 48.5% of Americans who die this year, or about 1.27 million people, will be cremated. The percentage jumps to a projected 56.2% in 2020 and 71% in 2030.

With the change, we have already seen a shift in the way we go remembering our loved ones. Companies have come out with more eccentric ways to store ashes, funeral homes sell pendant necklaces that feature a dead relative’s fingerprint, personalized urns with an etched photo of a departed friend and bracelets that hold the ashes of a beloved family pet. Today, the possibilities are really endless when it comes to memorilizing those you care about. You can even view your loved one being cremated. For some, watching the cremation process, something unheard of in the 1970s, has become another step in the grieving process.

Marcus Yocum, who has worked in the funeral services industry since the early 1990s, opened Charleston Cremation Center and Funeral Home in October. His 6,400-square-foot facility includes separate crematories for humans and pets in the same building as the chapel and reception lounge.
Loved ones of deceased individuals can stand in a hallway and look through a window to watch the cremation process. Yocum said it’s a way of giving families peace of mind and comfort.

“More and more families are wanting to witness the cremation, view the cremation,” he said. “We’re taking that question out of whether or not their loved one was the one that was placed inside. I want to take that question out. My facility is full-disclosure.”
The McAlister-Smith Funeral Cremation crematory in West Ashley is also open to families who want to see the process.
He then offers to let the family go to the crematory unannounced to inspect it. If the family is still concerned, he offers the opportunity for them to watch the cremation.
“I would make it available for you to not only place mom or dad in the cremation chamber, allow me to put everything in place, close it, you can even push the button to start the process,” Willis said.
“Now, that’s not saying you have to go and do this,” he said, adding that some religious customs require the entire family to bathe the body and place it in the cremation chamber as a group.
Willis’ facility also includes a draped window from behind which family members can watch.
“For us, as funeral directors, to be able to stand with the family and allow them to face death — that’s what we want,” he said. “We want to stand with them and be with them and help them walk down that road. All of what we do, all of these things is an effort to do that.”
The aftermath of death feels like it has always belong to the Funeral Director, but families are wanting to be more involved, more inclusive when it comes to the preparations of their loves ones. 
“There are a lot of avenues for families to take now,” Willis said. “It has become — not necessarily a trend, but families have said, ‘This is what we want,’ and most funeral homes nowadays are saying, ‘Then let’s help you do that.’ ”

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