This week while reading through a death blog I came upon an article about cremation. I found it quite interesting that they claimed cremains had a “high PH” and therefore not good for memorial plantings. I did not have time to peruse the article and set it aside for further reading. As I have written before in Be a Tree, cremains are inert and do not add anything to the nourishment of memorial plants. Cremains must be mixed with organic material to help the plant along. I thought I had come across new information and was excited about the new information. When I went back to the article, I found that all the information regarding the PH level of cremains were self-referential. I had hoped for some scientific information but found none. I continued my research on line looking at as many resources as I could find. I could find nothing regarding the toxicity of cremains except for this single page. Sure cremains vary from person to person in composition, but only slightly. I know some anecdotal evidence that suggests that cremains might not be the best to place at the foot of a rosebush, but the hard evidence does not support it. Using this kind of “evidence” on a website leads folks to think that unless they use your mix, the cremains will kill the memorial tree.
The whole process of the researching this claim angered me. What are people to do who do not have the time or the emotional strength to research? People are so afraid to talk about death. I think sometimes they just want to find a way to deal with death and move on without really looking at the information the industry hands out beyond its face value. When researching your ideal funeral and burial, keep in mind that those in the industry are there to sell services and products. Funeral directors, cemeterian and others in the industry need to make money, and they make money through sales. Yes, many of them are there to serve people in need. Many have wonderful hearts, but sales power the industry. When you are in grief, you might not be able to seek out the best services and products for your family. In grief, you might just find it easier to listen to the professionals. You might want to just get the details over and done with and not check out all the details the service providers offer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting your own research:
Do you want a visitation/wake?
Keep in mind that by law, you need not embalm for a viewing or visitation. Remember Your Body is not Disgusting. You can always work with a funeral guide. If you live in a State that allows you to choose who you wish to help you with your end of life choices for burial, you need only choose a funeral guide. If you live in a state that requires you to hire a funeral director (Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Louisiana, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), you must find one that will work with you. A funeral home might have a policy that insists on embalming. If this is the case, you know they are more interested in themselves than your needs and wants. Keep in mind that funeral directors are trained to think that embalming is the be-all-and-end-all of the funeral world. If you can’t work with a director, move on. More and more funeral directors are willing to work with you on this point.
Do you want to cremate?
Cremation is not the greenest of funeral choices. It is inexpensive and will allow a family to have more control over the funeral and burial. Cremation is a personal choice. Know your options. If you are going to cremate, do not embalm first because that adds to the environmental impact of cremation.
Do you want to donate your body to science?
Find out all the details regarding their program. Some programs, your family will not receive your body/cremains back for burial. Some will cremate. Some programs will charge your family for the cremation process. Some programs will not tell you how your body will be used. Regulations are not so strict in this area, so you must do a lot of research.
Read and Research
I know that not everyone thinks shopping around for funerals is fun. Before you go out or make you phone calls, do your reading. Make sure you know your rights and the laws of your state. Check out Josh Slocum’s Final Rights. The back of the book has all the funeral laws for your state. Keep reading this blog. I do a lot of research before I post on a topic. I try to give outside information for my readers to check out. In the end, you must do your own research. Many people do not feel comfortable looking too long at this topic; you will reap the rewards of finding your own path through the death care industry and the alternative death care industry.