Archive for October, 2009

Big Funeral Convention in Boston

nfda convention

National Funeral Directors Association convention this week

The National Funeral Directors Association is holding it’s huge annual convention now in Boston. Thousands of funeral directors from all over the world attend this event.

There are hundreds of exhibitors displaying the latest ideas in funeral related products and services.  There are also industry suppliers  like companies that make embalming fluid and gurneys with often interesting displays at their booths.

I wonder, with the recession and the hurting auto industry,  will the limo companies will have their customary huge blocks of  booth spaces to display their shinny black long cars?

At some point in the future, we will return to the convention and set up our fancy booth that fits into a suitcase.  Right now there are many companies providing a directory of funeral homes, ours is free.  We just want to provide the content to site visitors.   As  TheFuneralSite.com grows  it is rising above the fray of other directory sites and now, we think,  is the leading funeral planning site. Leading because more and more people are coming out, looking at an increasing number of pages and staying on our site for 12 minutes — according to Alex.com, once people find TheFuneralSite.com, they stay longer than on our competitor’s sites. People are finding  answers and explore their funeral options on TheFuneralSite.com.  Whoo!

We offer the best funeral planning content on the internet.  We don’t care if it distracts people from shopping.

Our mission is to provide information for people planning funerals.

-AC

 

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Cremation by funeral pyre, now available in the USA

Cremation by Funeral Pyre in Crestone, Colorado

Cremation by Funeral Pyre in Crestone, Colorado

Cremation by funeral pyre or “open-air cremation” is now available for a few people in the United States. We’ve just added an article on it in our Disposition Resource Center.

A funeral pyre is one of the world’s oldest cremation traditions. A body is placed upon a structure packed with flamable materials and ignighted.  The pyre is designed to burns at a very hot temperature in order to reduce a human body to a few pounds of ashes.  Pyres are used for the cremation in Hinduism & Sikhism. Vikings disposed of their dead with funeral pyres.

A group in Crestone, Colorado, the Crestone End of Life Project,  has done the research, obtained the necessary legal permissions and created a permanent cement pyre structure to perform around 12 “open-air cremations” a year.  At this time you must be a member of their community in order to proceed with an open-air cremation.  For more information contact the founder of the Crestone End of Life Project, Stephanie Gaines at (719) 588-7415.

A video tape of a cremation by outdoor funeral pyre shows a dignified procession of people placing a shroud wrapped body on top of a pyre. One by one, individuals placed juniper branches on top of the body. They approached the body similar to the way people do at a viewing. With somber deliberation each stepped forward to say good bye to their loved one by placing the juniper branch on top of the pyre. Some placed flowers on the heaping pile of juniper. At the conclusion of this procession, a huge pile of greenery and flowers rested on top of the cement pyre.

When lit, the pyre burst into flames. The group sang Christian songs and prayed; sometimes a cantor sang. As the sun set, the group remained to witnessed the pyre burn for hours. Some members occasionally placed additional wood on the fire. It was  a beautiful heart felt ceremony.

There is some controversy on how green this type of cremation is. There was a lot of smoke when the pyre was first ignighted. The narrator explained that this was caused by the fresh juniper branches.

Could funeral pyres be the next “hot” new thing in the funeral industry? Could they compete with green burial?  Probably not, I wonder how many people choose to witness a cremation at a regular crematory? I understand that there is more interest in witnessing this procedure and some crematorys have developed spaces for the family to observe the cremation. But I’d be surprized if there is much demand for this.

The more funeral options the better. I’m glad to hear that cremation by funeral pyre is happening in the USA and hope it becomes available in more locations  throughout the USA. It’s certainly not for everyone but for some it’s the perfect send off.  People should be allowed to honor their loved ones however they like.
-AC

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Ladies in White, a unique ash scattering service

The Ladies in White - ash scattering service in the wildlands of Montana

The Ladies in White - ash scattering service in the wild lands of Montana

Ladies in White  is yet another wonderful and unique option for people choosing cremation —  ashes scattered by hand in the mountains by a committed group of sincere women wearing all white. You know these women care. You can feel it from their website.  And you know they’ll strive to fulfill a family’s wishes on where and how the scattering is completed.

Here’s how they describe themselves:

Ladies in White, LLC, is a company of women that works to grant the final wishes of those who want their ashes returned to the earth at its most beautiful.  The Ladies are community members from all walks of life, and from a variety of faiths and perspectives.  They are business and professional women; tradeswomen, educators, healthcare workers, office workers and shop keepers; homemakers, mothers and grandmothers.  All are carefully selected for personal qualities of compassion and human understanding, and intensively trained for their work with Ladies in White.

The Ladies in White are now listing in the Product Gallery under Ash Scattering & More > Hiker.  Information about options like the Ladies in White is what makes thefuneralsite.com’s new Product Gallery so fantastic. People can easily view many funeral options. I can’t wait until the Gallery is packed full with 60 categories of information for people to browse.

– AC

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I Love My Mom

In the last week, two of my friends’ mothers died. Both women were in their mid-80s and had chronic illnesses. Yet, death is always a shock especially for these most intimate relationships.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with my extraordinary 85 year old mother-in-law,  Helen. She and Chet, my father-in-law, have been living in their own home without much help. But, we’ve noticed a decline.  Helen fell last week. We’re realizing that they need us now for daily tasks. We live 10 minutes away and have committed to being there to help every morning and every evening.

My mom, Grace, and Ella our oldest daughter

My mom, Grace, and Ella our oldest daughter

My mom is in her mid 70s and in better shape than I am. As corny and cliché as this sounds, the fact is, she’s my best friend. The thought that I will outlive her always causes me to tear up. Perhaps that impending loss, somewhere out there in my future has fueled my intense interest in the funeral industry and the creation of TheFuneralSite.com?

If I become an expert on funerals and how we pay tribute and memorialize our loved ones, will this help prepare me for the loss of my mom?  Do funerals help with the grief? Is there a better way to do this ritual so we can feel a little better or learn a little more?

All this is quite personal and not the usual subject of this blog, but it’s on my mind.

-Anna

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TheFuneralSite.com’s Product Gallery launches

Product Gallery's Cremations Jewelry gallery page

Product Gallery's cremation Jewelry gallery page

The Product Gallery is a product-centric informational tool for browsing funeral and memorial products and services that are available for delivery anywhere in the United States.  It is designed to help people find the exact product or service they want for a funeral, memorial, or other end-of-life gathering.


The Funeral Product Gallery is not a store.  Vendors include their products in the Gallery for FREE and if people are interested in the product, they click through to the vendor’s own web site. The vendor pays a minimal amount for that click.

The Product Gallery launched in the fall of 2009 and will eventually include many, many categories of products and services.  We’re starting out with the basics – Caskets, Urns, Scattering Options, Keepsakes, Flowers, but just you wait! Soon you’ll see much more.
The Product Gallery will be the best place on the internet, actually anywhere, to easily find every conceivable funeral related product or service.
Take a look!
– Anna

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Urns from Salvaged Wood

We just added a new company into the Product Gallery Portland Natural Caskets. They sell wood caskets and urns made by hand. Portland Natural Caskets only delivers caskets to Washington and Oregon states, so their caskets are not in the Product Gallery, but their urns are. They have a listing for their caskets in their local funeral guide, www.portlandfuneralguide.com.

I was talking with Scott, the owner of Portland Natural Caskets, and he told me the artist who makes some of their urns stores logs he’s salvaged in his pond. The water prevents the logs from deteriorating.  When the artist is ready to begin a new urn project he literally jumps into the pond to pull up a log for the project. The urn are beautiful as you can see in the picture below. Each is made from a  single piece of wood.  David told me that it’s common to salvage wood from rivers and lakes near old lumber camps and mills. People can find excellent rare wood pieces of wood in perfect condition under the water.

Urn made from salvaged wood stored in a pond

Urn made from salvaged wood stored in a pond

We now have nearly 3,000 funeral related products and services in the Product Gallery.

I’m can’t wait until the Product Gallery is completely  filled out with every conceivable product and service available. I’m imagining around 40 major categories with hundreds of subcategories.

The Product Gallery will be the easiest way   to consider all options  and will be a great help to people trying to figure out what to do when funeral planning.  – Anna

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How did I miss this? – Always go to the Funeral

I stumbled across this beautiful piece from NPR”s This I Believe series the other day. I don’t know how I’ve missed it all these years.  We’ll be adding a link to it from  www.thefuneralsite.com ‘s library. It’s titled, Always go to the Funeral written by Deirdre Sullivan. The piece was broadcast in August 2005!

This I Believe - Always go to the Funeral by Deirdre Sullivan

This I Believe - Always go to the Funeral by Deirdre Sullivan

Deirdre Sullivan grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and traveled the world working odd jobs before attending law school at Northwestern University. She’s now a freelance attorney living in Brooklyn. Sullivan said her father’s greatest gift to her and her family was how he taught them to do a good deed as opposed to doing nothing at all.

Recently friends have told me, “I don’t like funerals” in explaining why they didn’t attend. . . . Who likes funerals? Who likes going to the dentist?

There are things we do in life to take care of ourselves and each other. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a simple act of kindness.

Always go to the funeral.

-Anna

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