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7 Unique & Interesting Ways to Handle Cremation Ashes

Although placing cremation ashes in an urn, is traditionally how cremation remains are handled, recently several unique options have become available to personalize how you handle your loved one’s remains. Today, we are sharing these unique options, with the 7 we found to be the most unique and interesting.

1. Star Treatment: Celestis Memorial Spaceflights offers a variety of options for a space burial. Their process allows for a symbolic portion of cremated remains to be placed into Earth orbit, onto the lunar surface, and into deep space. Missions into space that return the cremated remains to Earth are also available. Your loved one will venture into space as part of a real space mission, riding alongside a commercial or scientific satellite. Pricing for these flights start at $999 and can exceed $12,000.

2. Diamonds & Jewels: LifeGems, among other service providers, offer to turn cremation remains into diamonds. LifeGems are a certified, high-quality diamond created from a lock of hair or the cremated ashes of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life. The gems are available in colorless, blue, red, yellow and green. Pricing on LifeGems start at $2600. Other vendors provide diamonds and gems as well, while others can incorporate cremains into beads or other jewelry.

3. Fireworks: A UK-based company, Heavens Above Fireworks, will use cremation ashes in fireworks and provide a display similar in style to the spectacular shows seen at some public events. The fireworks they use are big professional fireworks, not available to the public, with some of the fireworks being unique, including the cremation ashes. Prices for this service start at 2000 euros. We’d expect that this option will eventually make it’s way to the US.

4. Ocean Reefs: Eternal Reefs offers a memorial choice that replaces cremation urns and ash scattering with a permanent environmental living legacy. The reefs are made of environmentally safe cast concrete that is used to create new marine habitats for fish and other forms of sea life. Eternal Reefs takes the cremated remains and incorporates them into an environmentally safe cement mixture designed to create artificial reef formations. The memorial reefs are taken to a curing area and then placed in the permitted ocean location selected by the individual, friend or family member.

5. Glass: By suspending cremated remains within solid glass globes and pendants, Memory Glass provides a unique method of memorializing your family, friends and pets. They offer several different glass shapes, including hearts, orbs and pendants.

6. A work of art: Artists are now incorporating ashes into their paint and making portraits or other works of art. These paintings are a beautiful way to memorialize a loved one, incorporating their interests or likes within the work of art. Oil paintings through Art in Ashes start at around $550.

7. My teddy bear: Huggables Collection offers a line of teddy bears and other keepsakes stuffed with cremation ashes. Pricing of these bears are around $250.

With all of these trends, come more unique options, including ashes being made into Hour Glasses, or releasing cremains into the sky within a balloon. There will always continue to be more unique ways to handle cremation remains. All of these unique options help families create a special memory for their loved one. How will you memorialize your loved one? How would you want your cremation remains be handled?

The Irony of the Life and Death of Andy Griffith

Today we are sharing a blog post written by a friend of ours, Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

How ironic that a man who was a “symbol of values” was buried with no ceremony just five hours after his recent death. The family noted that this was “just the way he wanted it.” Sadly, as more and more people plan to do it “Andy’s way,” we are reminded that if the profession of funeral service does not educate the public about why we have funerals, nobody else will.

Close your eyes and remember the Andy Griffith Show: the little post office, the fishing hole, the general store, the barbershop, the jail—and the funeral home where people gathered when a member of the community died. Everyone knew and looked out for each other. Kids could play in the street (even though Barney would sometimes ticket people for jaywalking), and there were white picket fences. People gathered on front porches, and there was no Facebook, cell phones, or instant cheeseburgers to be found anywhere in Mayberry.

While even in its prime the show was a step backward in time, the Griffith family’s decision about Andy’s funeral is a glimpse into the potentially tragic future of funeral service. As people are reflecting on the Andy Griffith that they knew and loved, they are describing him as the emblem of the 20th century values they often say they prize most. During the run of the Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968), we observed the very best of humanity—people who cared, people who cried, people who included children in important life events, people who gathered together for meaningful funerals when someone died.

Decades later the spirit of Mayberry lives on in Andy’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Again, how ironic that Mount Airy’s annual fall festival, Mayberry Days, attracts thousands of people who come together to honor the memories that Andy and his cast of characters inspired—yet there was no opportunity to gather and pay tribute to the man who made it all possible.

Yes, change is a constant, but I suggest not all change is good. While we as Americans profess to want friendly communities anchored in excellent core values, we also want funerals that are easy, fast, and cheap—if we want them at all. I don’t suspect the folks in Mayberry would approve of how Andy was “laid to rest within five hours” with no public gathering. You see, those folks understood that you always have to say hello before you say goodbye. They understood that darkness was the chair upon which light sits. They understood the need to have authentic funerals, not to quickly dispose of the dead body.

You may think you should not have to educate people in your community about the value of funerals. But the truth is that people just like Andy Griffith’s family all across these United States are questioning the very need for funerals. So, I challenge you to consider: What is your funeral home’s cause? Why do you do what you do? And if your why is grounded in the essential healing reasons we as people have had funerals since the beginning of time, remind yourself that even as you face your day-to-day work challenges, you must also keep inspiring the people you come in contact with to learn the value of funerals. If you need help, consider checking out my recent collaboration on the new website meaningfulfunerals.com, which teaches about the importance of the elements of death ceremonies. Or, see my new poster titled “Why We Have Had Funerals Since the Beginning of Time,” available at centerforloss.com

Dr. Alan Wolfelt is the director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado. He teaches and writes about the importance of creating meaningful funeral ceremonies and is the author of numerous books on death, grief, and life transitions. He can be reached at DrWolfelt@Centerforloss.com, or, 970-217-7069.

Online Account Wishes

With the growth of the Internet, a whole new world of banking and interactions has formed. With this, more rigid security measures have been created to protect one’s confidential information.

Security measures on many websites are no longer limited to only a username and password, but also a second level of security, in the form of a security question or pin. These security measures are to keep hackers away, but they also may make it difficult for a family member of someone who has recently passed away to access these accounts.

Although this issue was non-existent a couple decades ago, today families are finding themselves struggling with accessing, managing and closing online accounts of loved one’s who have passed.

Requesting online account access has also become a difficult process. Even email services and social media websites require proof of death, proof of relationship to the deceased, and copies of the will. These requirements and processes may take several weeks or months to process, before access is granted.

If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to consider adding a digital executor to your will, granting permission to control the online accounts, including specific details on how you would like the accounts handled. A list of all accounts, usernames and passwords should either be included in the will or stored in a safe place, whether online or offline.

If you have passwords that are changed often, it may be more appropriate to store passwords with a password service, or in a place other than the will, as it could be costly to continuously make updates to your will.

We encourage you to take these steps in helping make the process of accessing, managing and closing accounts easier on your loved ones.

“Final Resting Place”- a 60 Minute investigative report reveals corruption at corporate-owned cemeteries with locations in Denver

On May 20, 2012, 60 Minutes, reported about improper conduct, dumping of human remains, mishandling records, and corruption at cemeteries owned by, Service Corp International, a company listed on the NYSE.

Denver residents may not be aware that this corporation also owns many locations in Denver: Olinger Crown Hill, Olinger Hampden, Olinger Highland Chapel, Olinger Eastlawn, Advantage Aurora Stevenson, and Trevino Funerals/Cremation, Moore Howard Chapel, Advantage Runyan, and Advantage Aurora Chase Chapel.

Bereaved families may think they are dealing with family businesses, but many of the funeral homes and cemeteries in Denver are actually owned by large corporations.

John Horan, owner of Horan and McConaty and Denver’s largest family owned funeral home, issued the following statement.
“We would like to express our deep condolences to all families whose deceased loved ones have experienced poor treatment at such cemeteries. During some of the most difficult and painful times of people’s lives, they need and deserve to be treated with integrity, genuine professionalism and compassion. We encourage families to choose a locally owned company with a reputation for honesty and quality. ”

Colorado is the only state without licensing or inspections of funeral homes or crematories. With unregulated and non-traditional sellers offering consumers many options for purchasing burial goods or services – consumers face risk.

“We encourage the public to ask who is caring for their family member, if the company is locally owned and operated, where their crematory is located and if the deceased ever leaves their care,” Horan stated.

View the video

Horan & McConaty wins Best Large Business Award in Thornton

The City of Thornton recently held its annual Business Expo, which features the Business Recognition Awards recognizing five businesses that stand out from the crowd in their contributions to the community. Through a month-long online nomination process, a total of 12 businesses were nominated by business owners, managers, employees and customers. From these nominations, the BTAC Commissioners selected award winners for five different categories. The Best Large Business Award went to the best business in Thorton with over 21 employees. We are pleased to announce that Horan & McConaty was awarded the Best Large Business award at the 2012 Thorton Business Expo. Stephanie Grein, location manager, accepted the beautiful award that is now displayed proudly in the North Metro location.

We have been giving back to the community through our support of the Children’s Chorale and the Thornton Chorus, among other organizations. We are tremendously honored by the award and congratulate all who were nominated.

Online & Social Media Accounts Upon Death

The internet has become the place for social interaction, purchasing and online banking. With all of these online accounts, it raises an important question, what happens to accounts when an individual dies?

Most financial accounts and bank accounts are either closed when the account is closed, or access is granted to the deceased’s executor.

Email accounts are regulated by each service provider’s own policies. For example, Yahoo! Mail does not grant access to anyone, unless it is court ordered. While Gmail and Hotmail will grant access to their email accounts upon proof that you are authorized to access the accounts of the deceased.

Social media also comes with their own regulations. Facebook, for example, does not grant access to a deceased person’s account. But instead has a memorial status for the account of a deceased person. The memorial page can be customized by close relatives upon approval by Facebook, but certain features like joining groups and posting status updates are disabled in this state. Should the family wish to have the page taken down and the account deleted, a copy of the death certificate as well as a request form is required. If you’d like to learn more about how FaceBook handles accounts for deceased individuals, please visit their page directly: http://www.facebook.com/blog.php?post=163091042130.

Twitter assists families in saving a backup of their public Tweets and then closes the deceased person’s account. Basic information such as the deceased’s username and proof of death are required by Twitter. For more on Twitter’s process, please visit their page directly: http://support.twitter.com/articles/87894-how-to-contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-user.

LinkedIn has a “Verification of Death Form” that must be completed, which requires the email address associated with the user’s account. Upon verification of death, LinkedIn will remove the account.

YouTube also has a form that can be used to grant access to a deceased user’s account. They require the account name, death certificate, and a document with power of attorney over the YouTube account. Or if you are the parent of the user, a birth certificate may be supplied in lieu of the power of attorney. It takes approximately thirty days for YouTube to process and validate the documents and grant access.

We have created this blog to help make the process of accessing or closing a deceased family member’s account smoother. If you have any questions regarding other specific online accounts, please comment and we will provide more details for you.

In Attendance… Virtually

Imagine attending birthdays, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, baptisms and funerals “virtually.” It is said that grief shared is grief diminished and joy shared is joy multiplied. Do you believe that?

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to attend an event via webcast? How would you feel about your guests attending your birthday virtually instead of attending in person?

One might say that if a special person couldn’t make it, due to distances, or other circumstances, they’d rather they be present virtually than not at all, which is a very valid point. But who decides which reasons are “acceptable” or not, and at what point does it feel lonely, with more people attending virtually than in person.

As technology advances, human interaction and communication seems to be decreasing. Texting has eliminated many “two-minute” phone conversations, and more and more people are emailing messages as well.

With all the great advantages technology brings, it has created a disconnection in interpersonal daily activities. But, we must acknowledge that the significant events in life have a need for some level of personal touch, interaction and camaraderie.

Life’s most significant events, hellos and goodbyes, celebrations and consolations, can be addressed in a variety of ways. How do you feel about webcasting in this context? When is the convenience of webcasting the enemy of genuine and meaningful human interaction and when is it necessary and/or appropriate?

What Happens To A FaceBook Account Upon Death?

While social networking has brought together long-lost friends and connected distant relatives, Facebook has filled yet another role- a memorial board for those who have passed.

We’d like to share the process of converting a FaceBook account into a memorialized account. It’s important to take these steps to ensure that the account remains active, if the family chooses to do so.

According to FaceBook support, “Facebook does not grant access to a deceased person’s account. Instead, FaceBook has a memorial status that turns the individual’s user page to a memorial page. Upon status change, friends can view and post their condolences or sympathy messages on the wall. “

Additionally, “The memorial page can be customized by close relatives upon approval by Facebook, but certain features like joining groups and posting status updates are disabled in this state. Should the family wish to have the page taken down and the account deleted, a request to FaceBook accompanied by a copy of the death certificate is required.”

Facebook already hosts thousands of memorialized accounts for deceased users. Many families are finding keeping their loved one’s FaceBook account active and placing it in memorial status allows them to share stories and memories and connect with others whose lives have also been touched by that person.

For many, FaceBook has helped support them through the holidays and other difficult times. Whenever one wants to remember or reflect on the deceased person’s life, there is now a place where comments have been left and memories shared.

To learn more about how to memorialize accounts or for the form to create a memorialized account, please go to: http://www.facebook.com/blog.php?post=163091042130.

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