Friday, Mar. 15th 2013

Services based on reason

By Gregg Amos, President


When a loved one dies, the family faces many decisions that must be made in a short period of time.  Perhaps the most obvious decision is whether to bury or to cremate their loved one.


Cremation, as a generally less costly method of disposition, is steadily increasing and is now chosen nearly 50 percent of the time on a nationwide basis. Tough economic times have become a key factor in making the choice for cremation. In the past decade we have seen the rise of store-front cremation centers or societies where your loved one can be cremated for under $1,000 with no funeral, no memorial service and no celebration of a life lived.


The significance of a memorial service – regardless of how or where it takes place – should be taken into consideration. Those who say, “Just cremate me and throw me out.” don’t realize the burden they place on family. Consider our attention to expectant mothers with baby showers and the providing of gifts and congratulations to the justifiably proud parents when a baby is born. We recognize the joy and potential the new life offers. But we sometimes neglect to memorialize a life lived, a life that loved others, was part of a family and that invariably touched others in a profound way.


Years ago a woman came to me wanting cremation without any memorialization for her loved one. We followed her wishes. Months later she came to the funeral home and angrily asked why I had let her select direct cremation. She wished she had included a funeral or a memorial service because she was having a very difficult time coping with her loss. She had come to believe a funeral or memorial service would have given her an opportunity to grieve in a beneficial way. I apologized. Amos Family policy is to follow a family’s wishes and provide what is requested. We certainly do not want to be considered pushy!


Being mindful of expense is important, but many psychiatrists express recognition the funeral or memorial service serves a real purpose.  These services help fulfill the need for grieving for the living, a need sometimes unfulfilled.


We all want to try our best to follow our loved one’s wishes. However, funerals and memorial services are for the living. The structured formality of a memorial service may provide the family with a sense of comfort. Therein exists true and enduring value.



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