A family came to me recently after they lost their son in a tragic accident. All they wanted was to create some kind of meaning in the face of the total chaos of emotion that they were swimming through. They had gone to another low cost funeral home that had no interest in listening to the family’s questions or entertaining any kind of notion out of the standard operating procedure: pick-up, cremate, return ashes.
The family only had a couple of needs: They wanted to be sure they got their son back from the mysterious cremation process, and they wanted to make the container that he was going to be cremated in. It wasn’t a very tall order – they just needed us to walk them through the exact process of identification, transport and cremation, so they could have the assurance that at every point there was a procedure to identify him. The family did not want to use the cardboard container used for most cremations, as they strongly felt their son needed something more personal. After 45 minutes of brainstorming options the dad came up with a brilliant idea – he was going to handcraft a surfboard shaped cremation tray. The family could come together to decorate the surfboard and write messages on it. What they came back with was beyond my wildest expectations. It was a beautifully handcrafted surfboard that was perfect to be used as a cremation tray. It was decorated with as much precision, love and care as anyone could ever muster and it was covered in loving handwritten messages to send him off on his next journey. This wasn’t another numbered body being shuttled into the cremation chamber, this was a life cut way too short, and he was riding a stunning example of craftsmanship and dedication on a wave of love to the other side.
Hey Funeral Directors, Get the Hell Out of the Way! | The Order of the Good Death