Monday, November 28, 2016

As Cremations Increase, Families Find Meaningful Places for the Ashes

The Washington Post reports that with almost half of families choosing cremation, there are increasing choices of what to do with the ashes.

Seeing a chance to increase both capacity and profits, cemeteries are opening sections where families can deposit ashes for a fee, by scattering them in gardens, burying them in small plots or placing them in wall niches. Some are constructing ossuaries, underground chambers where families can deposit the remains in velvet bags. (One Pennsylvania cemetery offers a separate ossuary for veterans of each military branch.)

Churches, universities and even a botanical garden in Arizona are among the institutions offering themselves as depositories for cremated remains, said Barbara Kemmis, head of the Cremation Association of North America. The trend is driven by the desire in many families for a more permanent memorial to their loved ones, she said.

Although many keep an urn on the mantel, Kemmis estimates that a third of families scatter remains out in the world, including on beloved beaches and from favorite roller coasters. Chicago’s Wrigley Field reported a minor blizzard of unauthorized ash spreading during this year’s World Series campaign by the Cubs. The Metropolitan Opera in New York recently shut down a performance after a man poured the cremains of his musical mentor in the orchestra pit.

A minor industry has arisen to deliver human remains to ever-more unreachable places, including the Holy Land, ocean reefs, the high atmosphere and space. According to U.S. Funerals Online, you can have your departed shot into the sky as a firework, made part of a coffee mug, incorporated into a tattoo or squeezed at super pressure into a fake diamond.

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