As published in The Dead Beat, Summer, 2017
I recently had the privilege to speak at a Funeral Directors Association convention in Maryland. Typically when I make presentations to various cremation, funeral, and cemetery associations, I have a cordial response. An hour of facts regarding the history of cremation can perhaps come across as a bit dull even though I find the story of cremation and its history and growth in the US quite fascinating.
Following this particular presentation, I received some of the sweetest compliments from a few of the attendees. They explained the fact that they have heard the instructional presentations from some of the greatest minds in the industry; they've received training on presenting cremation and it's options to the families they serve; they have been warned repeatedly about the despair of the litigious aspects of being sued as a result of cremation; but they told me something about my presentation that they said they had never experienced before. They said that after my presentation they didn't feel the despair of fearing cremation; rather, they felt inspired.
If you have read my column then you know of my penchant for regularly quoting the Lord of the Rings. In a particular part of the story when the fate of the One Ring is being discussed, the plan to overcome the power of the ring comes to light and others rebuke Gandalf calling the idea despair and folly. Gandalf, in his wisdom, replies, “It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed…”
Have you seen the latest reports from the Cremation Association of North America? The preliminary numbers for 2016 show a rate of 50.6% of Americans choosing cremation. Wisdom shows us that cremation is not a fad, in fact it is now the predominant method of disposition in our country. “It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed.”
Think back to the reason you entered the deathcare profession. There must have been something along the way that inspired you to pursue funeral service. Shouldn’t there be something that can inspire you about cremation? I am easily inspired by cremation (no surprise there); whether it be the strength and encouragement of the early cremationists, the beauty and form of the cremation urn, the magnificence of the urn memorials in beautiful columbaria across the country, the purifying power of the flame, the multitudinous options we are able to present to families choosing cremation, the freedom of families to elaborate and expand their celebration ceremonies. These are all causes of inspiration for me.
Cremation is not a cause for despair. It is cause for inspiration. Cremation is on a course to your firm. But it isn’t a crash course – it is an opportunity for you to be inspired again and again to care for your families. Be inspired!
That’s my perspective…