Last night’s field trip to historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta was an eye-opening experience. Here are some photos of outstanding stone monuments. Loved this Egyptian-type arch, erected by the Kontz family.
A number of the graves were from the mid-1800s and Victorian symbolism abounded. This headstone for a 22-month old child has a fallen dove and a very short tree trunk. The trunk symbolizes a life cut short. The shorter the truck, the shorter the life. There were lambs on headstones for children. Check out the stone pillows below, representing eternal rest.
Our tour guide said there were 70,000 residents in the cemetery, and one-third of the dead were children. Infant mortality was so much more prevalent 100 to 150 years ago. 12,000 African-Americans are among those buried here, and there are large Jewish sections as well.
One of the famous “residents” is Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With The Wind.” We visited her grave, pictured below. She died at the age of 48, killed by a drunk driver on Peachtree Street – she was walking across the street.
Glenda Stansbury with the Insight Institute talks about Certified Celebrants and how they help funeral homes provide emotionally healing, good goodbye services for grieving families. The ICCFA has been a big supporter of bringing the services of Certified Celebrants to funeral homes.
Listen to what Glenda has to say. Some info about Celebrants follows.
Are you “spiritual but not religious”? Do traditional funerals leave you cold? Have you told your family to not have a funeral for you?
Funerals or memorial services may be about the person who died, but they are for the people who continue to live and need a ceremony to process their grief. Avoiding holding a service often results in emotional trouble months later. However, a traditional “one-size-fits-all” service can leave bereaved families feeling just as emotionally unsatisfied.
Funeral Celebrants make all the difference for “a good goodbye”
What is a Funeral Celebrant?
A Celebrant is a person who is trained and certified to meet the needs of families during their time of loss. Celebrants provide personalized funeral services that reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased.
Why Do I Need a Certified Celebrant?
- A Celebrant offers an alternative to a service by a clergy person for those families not affiliated with a church or who do not wish to have a traditional religious funeral service.
- Celebrants are specifically trained to design a service that is completely personal, incorporating those unique stories, songs, and experiences that defined that person.
- Certified Celebrants have a library of resources available for readings, music, ceremonies, and personal touches.
- Certified Celebrants follow a Code of Ethics that ensures complete confidentiality in all dealings with the family.
How Do I Work With a Celebrant?
- The Celebrant will schedule a special meeting for your family to share memories, anecdotes and special moments in the loved one’s life. The essence of the service will be based upon the remembrances of the family. Participation by family and friends is encouraged.
- The Celebrant can serve at a funeral service, memorial service, graveside service, anniversary tribute, tree planting, bench dedication, or any other gathering designed to honor the deceased.
Who Certifies Celebrants?
The In-Sight Institute, which has certified more than 1,600 Celebrants in North America, provides the most comprehensive and sensitive training available. You and your family will be served by someone who understands the process and offers the very best services possible.
What is the Cost?
Your Celebrant will spend approximately 10 hours preparing and conducting your service. Fees for Celebrants vary by market, generally from $200 to $800.
P.S. – Gail Rubin, who writes The Family Plot Blog, is a Celebrant! You can find more information at http://agoodgoodbye.com/celebrant-services/
A few of the cemetery innovations at the 2012 ICCFA expo include a way to keep silk flowers in vases and new colorful memorial markers. I also spoke to an architect who designs new mausoleums to fit in with historic cemeteries. Check out these videos:
David and Ruby Broel supply silk flowers to 600 cemeteries around the U.S. and to the Kroger Corporation. The big problem in cemeteries is people think the floral tributes they leave get stolen. Actually, the wind is the culprit. Their company Flowers for Cemeteries came up with a brilliant design to keep flowers in vases (assuming the vases don’t get stolen).
Joel Hepburn-Brown talks about Life’s Memories glass memorial plaques in color – an innovation for cemetery markers! No fading over time, and you set them into headstones. The company is based in Australia and just came to America in 2011.
David Dahl, president of Milne Construction, points out some of the innovations his company brings to the construction of new mausoleums in historic cemeteries, in the U.S. and around the world.
Here are two glass artists represented at the 2012 ICCFA expo. The neat thing about the art you’ll see in these videos is that cremated remains are embedded in the glass.
Lennart Caspersen, representing Beverly’s Tropical Glass Design Studio in Naples, Florida, shows off some very creative art glass.
Kent Kahlen with Kahlen Studio Art Glass in Orange, California talks about his glass art with cremated remains incorporated.
A wide range of memorial markers dotted the ICCFA expo, some larger than life, others small enough to fit on top of an urn. I spoke to two sculptors displaying their wares.
Val Grinshpun creates sculptures for both people and pet urns. His company Carvax, Inc. creates Timberland urns that feature bronze sculptures on top and photos on the front that can be changed depending on the interests of the deceased.
Then there was Max Greiner, a sculptor of monumental works that focus on Christian themes. Christians seeking to glorify God have sought out his work to use as monuments on their graves. He also makes smaller versions of his sculptures that can be used on urns. He and his associate were kind enough to give me a blessing while I visited his booth.
There were some pretty cool funeral vehicles on display at the ICCFA expo this week, from earth movers to hearses and multiple casket haulers. Check out the hearse and limo funeral car from Rosewood Classic Coach. Owner Richard Neal gave a quick tour around the two vehicles on display.
These are amazingly stylish vehicles that will make anyone who uses them for a funeral go “WOW.” They are modeled after 1932 era vehicles, including the Dusenberg, Rolls Royce, and Packard. Check out the details in this video!
If you are more of a traditionalist, check out the Lincoln MKT Stratford 2012 hearse. Randy Garner, VP of Sales with Federal Coach Limo gives us the tour. It has built-in strobe lights to alert traffic to funeral processions, lots of storage, shadow box windows and more. It has all-wheel drive, a back-up camera, an urn holder (so you can give cremated remains dignified transportation) and many other features. Plus, it gets 21 miles per gallon!
And talk about toys for boys! Check out this big yellow earth mover and other cemetery equipment from Wacker Neuson, shown by Bill Marks, Southwest Region Manager. Cemetery managers were especially keen on checking these babies out.
Protecting crypts and mausoleums from odors, insects and dirt isn’t something you usually think of at a conventional expo. Yet there were several vendors at ICCFA (International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association) offering such helpful products.
I had no idea that crypt fly infestations in mausoleums is a chronic problem. This ICCFA expo really gave me some eye-opening insights.
Kryprotek also makes this great system that can allow a couple that have different dispositions to be placed together. If Dad’s in a casket and Mom’s in an urn, they can still be together in a mausoleum for eternity. Check out this video with Mark Bates, as he describes the Kryprotek system:
And while walking around, I spied the Zontec International booth, which posed the question, “Got Odors?” They produce an ozone generator system that eliminates odors and kills crypt flies. The backdrop reads “No Flies – No Odors – Just Peace.” The handout I picked up said “You built a Sanctuary… Zontec™ System will keep it pristine. No Chemicals… No Deodorizers… No Casket Protection.”
Tribute blankets were another great product I saw at the ICCFA convention and expo. The Funeral Home Gifts company can take a photo of the person who died and overnight, create a woven blanket that incorporates the image of the person. The blanket is delivered to the funeral home in time for the memorial service.
In the video below, funeral director Becca Temrowski, with the Temrowski Funeral Home in Detroit, Michigan, talks about how they give a blanket to one person in every family that they work with.
Very often, other family members want to order their own blanket. Widows will curl up in a blanket with the image of their deceased husband and find comfort.
The video below shows different tribute blankets on display and some footage of how the looms at Funeral Home Gifts weave the image into the blanket. You’ll probably see more of these blankets at funerals and memorial services soon.
Filed under: Tools of the Trade | Tags: alkaline hydrolysis, cremation, ICCFA
At the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) annual convention and expo, I’ve been doing short videos with various exhibitors talking about their products and services. There’s lots of interesting stuff here!
One new trend to be aware of is the growth of alkaline hydrolysis. This is an eco-friendly process that uses less energy and creates less CO2 than flame-based cremation. I spoke with Sam (Samantha) Sieber, biologist with Bio-Response Solutions and daughter of Joe Wilson, one of the pioneers of this technology.
There are Bio-Response units for human and animal disposition. There are 100 animal units in the U.S. and just a handful of human units, including at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota.
Currently, the technology is approved for use in eight states, including Florida, Minnesota, Kansas, Maine, Colorado, and Illinois.
In Florida, Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home has been using Alkaline Hydrolysis for the past six months. John T. McQueen presented a case study at the ICCFA about their experience offering what he calls flameless cremation.
He indicated with the new technology, his customers want to see the technology to be comfortable with the process. The video below includes a description of the alkaline hydrolysis process, for people and for pets.
We’ve got lots of short YouTube videos of ICCFA exhibitors talking about their products and services. Look for more posts soon!
Perhaps you think your family stresses you out at life cycle events? Check out the start of this Washington Post Magazine story by Neely Tucker regarding the funeral of Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe in 1953 (and what came afterwards).
PRAGUE, Okla. — Funerals, like weddings, can be messy family affairs. Not everything goes according to plan. Emotions run high. Even pleasant people can be tense.
Few people who met Patsy Thorpe — third and most difficult spouse of Jim Thorpe, that primordial American athlete — accused her of being pleasant, in particular Thorpe’s children from previous marriages.
So when she pulled up to her husband’s in-progress Native American funeral service at a farm near here on the night of April 12, 1953, with a hearse and a highway patrolman in tow, everybody knew something bad was about to happen.
What transpired, however, is perhaps unmatched in the history of American funeral proceedings.
She barged into the service and announced that her dead husband was “too cold.”
She ordered the coffin loaded into the hearse, then drove away, taillights disappearing into the darkness.
Over the next several months, she shopped the body around, looking for a memorial for him and cash for her. After alienating almost everyone, she wound up 1,340 miles away in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, asking two tiny boroughs straddling a bend in the Lehigh River — Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk — to unite under the name “Jim Thorpe” in exchange for his corpse.
It was macabre, it was bizarre, but the Chunks, once vacation getaways for U.S. presidents and the East Coast smart set, were desperate. Their coal-based fortunes had devolved into mid-century squalor. Civic leaders hoped the name change and a memorial might be their ticket back to prosperity.
With a parade, tooting horns and a marching band, they signed the deal, and today Jim Thorpe lies in a red marble mausoleum in Jim Thorpe, Pa.
This might be the end of the story, except for the fact that the four sons of Jim Thorpe never forgave and they never forgot.
They have asked, pleaded and two years ago sued in federal court to force the borough to right their stepmother’s wrong. They want to bury their father where he wanted: in or near the Thorpe family plot on the Great Plains of rural Oklahoma, about a mile from where he was born.
Wow, talk about estranging your relatives! Read the rest of the story. This twisting tale provides a very good reason to have an in-depth conversation about what you want for your final arrangements and ensure how those plans will be implemented. Don’t just talk about it – do something!