Death and Burial Rituals

Burial Rituals

Death and Burial Rituals

The Business of Death

Around the world, every day, every hour, every second, medical treatment is unable to prevent death. When doctors, nurses and hospitals can do no more for a patient, another industry steps in.

World population Estimate – 7,142,797,806

There are bodies everywhere.

World Death Rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population 55.3 million people die each year 151,600 people die each day 6316 people die each hour 105 people die each minute ~2 people die each second

Burial Rituals:

Traditional Western Customs:

The two most common methods for the disposal of corpses are:

Cremations (Burning the body) or
• Interment (Burying the body)

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000.

• Fee for the funeral director’s services: $1,500
• Cost for caskets: $2,300
• Embalming: $500
• Cost for using the funeral home for the actual funeral service: $500
• Cost of a grave site: $1,000
• Cost to dig the grave: $600
• Cost of a grave liners or outer burial vaults: $1,000
• Cost of monuments: $1,500

Islamic Customs:

• Muslims try to bury their dead ASAP.
• Family or community members wash and shroud the body in scented water and clean white cloth.
• The body is positioned so that the head is facing Mecca. The average adult Islamic funeral, before the cost of burial, was $6,550 in 2009, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial:

• The traditional Tibetan Sky Burial involves a corpse being dismembered by trained professionals and left outside (in one of the 1075 sky burial sites) for animals to feast upon. Today, 80% of Tibetans choose to have Sky Burials.

Green Burials in the U.S.:

• Going “Green?” People are forgoing traditional methods for environmentally friendly burials.
• Why expose the Earth to unnecessary embalming chemicals or steel caskets.
• Opts for biodegradable caskets or having your remains turned into an artificial reef? Factoid: Americans currently bury around one million tons of steel caskets each year.

Ngaben:

• Balinese cremation ceremony is performed to send the dead onto their next life, and is considered a sacred duty.
• The dead are placed inside a coffin, which is then placed inside a structure resembling a buffalo or temple.
• The structure is carried to the cremation site and set aflame. In group ceremonies upwards of 60 people’s remains were cremated at one time.

Ghana’s Elaborate Custom Coffins:

• In Ghana it is popular to bury loved ones in coffins that represent certain aspects of them, generally either an occupation, or something they loved.
• For example, a farmer might be buried in a coffin that was built to resemble an ear of corn, or a businessman could be buried in a coffin resembling a plane.

Famadihana – The Turning of the Bones:

• The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a famous ritual in which every five to seven years, the family has a celebration at its ancestral crypt.
• The cloth-wrapped bodies of the deceased are exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume, before being brought out for family members to dance with while a live band plays.

Space Burial:

• Money can buy you anything, even a burial in space.
• The first of these burials took place in 1997 and contained ashes of 22 people (including Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry).
• Cost, depending on how far you want your ashes to go, $1,000 – $12,000.

No Longer Practiced

Sokushinbutsu:

• Originating over 1000 years ago, Sokushinbutsu was practiced by a sect of Buddhist monks, and resulted in self-mummification.
• Process that involved eating nuts, bark, and drinking poisonous tea, and took over 3000 days to complete.
• Though hundreds of monks tried, only 16 – 24 were successful.
• Sokushinbutsu is now illegal in Japan.

Hanging Caskets:

• Though now a long lost civilization, The Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County, would use two wooden poles inserted into the rock to suspend caskets containing the dead on high cliff faces.
• Over 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and natural caves. Today locals refer to the Bo as the “Sons of the Cliffs”.

Sati:

• Now banned in India, Sati was the practice of recently widowed women throwing themselves on the funeral pyres of their husband’s bodies.

Contributed by “The Business of Death

Talking About Death and Funeral Planning

Death and Funeral Planning

Why are Funeral Planning and Death

Considered Taboo Conversations?

There are few things in life that are certain, but one thing that can be relied upon is that we will all die. Although death is an absolute certainty for every single one of us, society at large still seems to find it difficult to discuss funeral planning, death and dying. Death has always been something of a taboo subject, but even in these relatively enlightened times it is still a topic that causes some to react with disgust, fear or denial.

As a result, to plan a funeral for yourself or a loved one can be tricky at best. It is important that everyone gets the kind of funeral plan that respects their beliefs and wishes.  However, if these are not discussed in advance, it is difficult for those left behind to know how the best ways to handle these difficult decisions after a person has died.

Fear of Death and Dying

It’s understandable that, as a species intent on survival, we are reticent about discussing our inevitable demise. Fear of death can encompass a number of things including concerns about grief and loss, worry about pain or suffering, fear of the unknown, and bereavement.  There is also the sense that in death, things that an individual values such as family, friends and loved ones will be lost.

Many people have superstitious beliefs concerning death and dying that can hinder their willingness to talk about their end of life plans and preferences – and what should happen after they’re gone. The belief that talking about death is somehow “tempting fate” or will hasten death is common and will cause problems with making clear plans for what should happen after death.

Some deaths are more predictable than others, and those people who are diagnosed with a medical condition with a prognosis of shortened life may be in a better position for terminally ill planning since they have “some” idea of how much life they have left. Still, even those people for whom death is imminent may not wish to talk about it.

Death and Money – The Perfect Storm of Taboos

If there is one topic that draws an equal amount of discomfort for open discussion, it is an individual’s personal financial affairs. In working through a funeral planning checklist, the subjects of money and death are brought together in a clash of two of the strongest taboo subjects for discussion in polite conversation.

According to AARP, today’s average funeral costs can run upwards of $10,000.  Clearly this is no small consideration when facing things like funeral estate planning and finding the money to pay for the essentials after a death. In addition to adding the stress of finding this money to the worry about doing the right thing, you also have the drawbacks of not discussing how to plan your funeral with loved ones when the opportunity has always been available.  So these drawbacks significantly outweigh the discomfort of talking about things that are often left unsaid.

An Open Conversation About Death

Although it is hard for some people to talk about dying, it is an extremely important conversation to have. Without an understanding of what a person’s wishes are for their end of life funeral arrangements, families can be left in a difficult position of trying to second guess what their loved one would have wanted after their death. Don’t leave it too late to have the conversation.

If you preplan a funeral, it gives you the opportunity to talk about preferences, funeral costs, and the way in which you want to be remembered.  This includes even the little details such what you want to say in your obituary, what kind of memorial service you would like, what to put on your monuments or head stone, or even new memorial technology for gravestones.

Getting your funeral plan, preferences, and finances in place early means that both the dying person and the family left behind have the peace of mind to knowing that the right thing was done, and the funeral plan and money are available to ensure the deceased’s wishes are fulfilled.

Conclusion

Death and dying is one of the final taboos for discussion in our society. However, making sure that everyone is clear about what they want in death and their wishes for their funeral can bring peace of mind to all concerned.

Article contributed by Memorials of Distinction

Grave Headstone Monuments Tombstone Memorial

Grave Headstone, Tombstones and Monuments Memorial

What to Put on a Grave Headstone, Monuments,

Grave Marker, or Personalized Memorial?

Losing a loved one is hard.  Honoring that loved one after they are gone can be just as hard.  The first step is choosing what to say on the memorial for a grave headstone, grave marker, or any other type of monuments.

What Do You Want to Say About Your Loved One?

You could mention their time served in the military or their relationships to the family.  You could incorporate some of their favorite hobbies or passions.  Over the years we’ve seen a lot of memorable quotes and sayings.

Grave Headstone

Here are just a few that you might use as inspiration:

“An officer and gentleman, he touched the lives of many with a hug, a smile, humor, and a generous spirit. Rest, my dear father, in God’s loving embrace.” ~ Donna Shackelford Jones

“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there.” ~ Isla Paschal Richardson

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~ Helen Keller

When choosing a saying, you might ask yourself, would your loved one like this and does it reflect their impact on the world?

What are Your Options When Designing a Memorial?

Once the text is chosen, you’ll need to consider the design.  There are numerous options for engraving and designing a custom headstone or marker.  Elements like font size and color greatly impact the design of the memorial.  If you’re working with a custom headstone designer, you’ll want to defer to them for the best font choice.  Your designer will also be able to determine the best layout so everything is easy to read and well balanced.

There are also other options when choosing a custom headstone or memorial.  For instance, do you want to have a vase, religious symbol, or even a picture on the monument?  These questions should be brought up with your funeral director and cemetery coordinator.  To keep track of these answers you might want to download the Cemetery Regulations Checklist, put together by Quiring Monuments.

Remember to keep in mind the purpose of the memorial, whether it’s a grave headstone, grave marker, cremation memorial, or any other type of personalized monuments, it should represent your lost loved one and be a place for the family to remember them fondly.

Preplan Funeral Expenses

Pre Need

Preplanning for Funeral Costs and Expenses

The final expense cost of regular adult funeral including basic items, can be significant. To give you a quick overview of the funeral costs, we’ve developed a quick chart.  Keep in mind, these basic items do not include cemetery costs, cemetery monuments, or grave marker costs – nor any other miscellaneous charges such as for funeral flowers or obituaries.

$1,595             Non-declinable basic services fee

$  233              Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home

$  550              Embalming

$  203              Other preparation of the body

$  406              Use of facilities/staff for viewing

$  463              Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony

$  251              Use of a hearse

$  120              Use of a service car/van

$  119              Basic memorial printed package

$2,255             Metal Casket

$1,128             Vault

Total Cost  $7,323

For  more information about specific Final Expense Costs or strategies to Prepay Funeral Expenses and End of Life Planning, you’ll find a wealth of information throughout our website, FuneralResources.com.

 

Funeral and Memorial Technology News

 Funeral and Memorial Technology

A Few Words Before I Go

The original Rosetta Stone helped translate the pictorial language of the ancient Egyptians, providing definitions of the imagery and bringing to life a long-gone culture. Now one company is offering personal versions of the stones to tell stories about an individual long after we’re gone.

Objecs LLC’s RosettaStone is an oblong — think full-sized iPod – piece of granite or travertine stone inscribed with pictorial images that stand for different aspects of an individual’s life. Seemlessly incorporated into tombstones and monuments, the stones invite cemetery visitors to plug into a website – or in some cases simply wave your phone in front of the stone – and see the meaning of each symbol.

Walk around a cemetery today and gravestones doesn’t tell you anything. Date of birth. Date of death. They’re cold and impersonal,” said Chris Hill, a financial advisor in northern Virginia and also Founder of FuneralResources.com, who personally owns two RosettaStones. “This will tell my story for thousands of years.”

Purchasers can choose up to six tablet symbols, reminiscent of hieroglyphics, from more than 300 options, including a striped pole for a barber, a caliper for an engineer, and a man behind bars for ne’er-do-wells who want to be remembered as such.

When selecting the symbols for his stone, Hill thought of his wife and two children, his passions for music and writing, his belief that life doesn’t end with death.

For his six symbols, he chose an “I” for general information, a U.S. map, stick figures representing a family, a music note, a hand holding a pen, and a telescope looking into space.

It’s just as important to document your life as it is to remember it”, Hill said.

John Bottorff, founder of Objecs LLC, said the tablet symbols spur interest and conversation.

When I see someone using a symbol I can relate to, I can’t help but be curious as to their life experience around it. We are seeing mini-meaning of life stuff here from common people, not a Dalai Lama,” Bottorff said. “I will never look at a barber pole symbol the same – I’m still awestruck at how a barber has learned the deepest values of life from his profession.  Not all of the messages are positive, but I think they are all gifts to future generations from today’s cooks, barbers, lawyers, fishermen and all kinds of people and professions.”

But it’s the memorial technology element that makes the RosettaStone special, Bottorff said. If the cell phone is NFC-enabled — something still rare in North America but common overseas – simply touching the phone to the tablet allows direct access to the story behind each symbol. The internal microchip uses the phone’s own magnetic field to work and transfer the data, then returns to a dormant state.

For a regular cell phone with Internet access, users can type in the web information on the tablet and have the same information appear. Each symbol can be accompanied by about 200 words of text.

So how is this better than including a memorial website’s address on a tombstone? The answer is permanence, Bottorff said.

Compare us to them and we look a bit primitive, he said. “The traditional memorial website is a much richer multimedia experience, but  not necessarily pursuing the long-term data survival  model we are. If you’re interested in a long genealogical surviving record, ours is a pretty good approach.”

RosettaStone boasts that the tablets’ information will remain accessible for the next 3,000 years. Even if the company folds, the tablets’ associated information will remain. In part, that’s because information is both hard-coded to the stones’ internal microchip and archived externally on the web. (Of course, without a time machine, it’s impossible to verify the 3,000-year claim, but the concept seems to sell nonetheless.)

Introduced a little over a month ago, Objecs has sold fewer than 100 of the products, which cost about $200. Among the buyers, Bottorff said, are a well-known American musician and a BBC Television personality.

Although Objecs initially offer for the product was a way to honor the dead, the living have quickly wanted it for themselves too. (In fact, the living are the product’s primarily buyers thus far.) On its website, Objecs notes that RosettaStones are also intended for “mature adults who have reached a stage in life with identifiable milestones and associations. Such milestones may include a profession, discipline, paternal capacity, love of music or skill….”

When people started buying it for themselves, it was an awakening that it was something people wanted to hold onto as a family heirloom, so we adjusted our message,” Bottorff said.

Hill has been updating and frequently rewriting the text he wants to accompany his RosettaStone entries frequently.

“If a truck hits me tomorrow, I’ve got some words that will last forever and that’s real,” he said. “It’s hard to write at first. You’re thinking, ‘Wow. These are my last words.’”

 

Death, Grief and Loss

Coping with Grief

The Simplicity of Blessings

Death can make us aware of the importance of life. When a person is a funeral director, he or she is surrounded by death. Many believe that blessings can arise out of grief and loss. As a society, we most often focus on the negative aspects of death. At FuneralResources.com, we choose to focus on the positive aspects of death. Here are some things I have learned that might help you and your families:

Everyday Life: Grief often brings into focus our daily life that we assume will “always” be the same. What we might take for granted now can come into full bloom when contrasted with death. Our families, our loved ones and our health start taking on far more importance and they are treasured far more. Material concerns have a chance during a loss to take a second seat. We get back to basics and realize what we have is good. What a blessing.

Hidden Angels: People can be a blessing. As we walk through the five stages of grief, people come into our lives to help ease our pain. A member of Beyond Indigo wrote:

“One of the things I remember most about my horrible summer in hell were three people I met who were walking angels. Each of them, in their own way, made that summer bearable and is remembered now, after it has passed, as huge blessings. I’m actually glad I met them even though I met them only because of the situation, which was causing such grief.”

Look On The Bright Side: Things could be worse. As trite as it sounds, it is true. Life can always be worse. Looking at what occurred as a positive can bring new thoughts to the surface.

Another Beyond Indigo member wrote to us about her pregnancy. She was 21 weeks pregnant when her doctors told her that the baby would not survive the cyst that had become part of its little body.  She wrote, “Obviously, the RIGHT ending would have been for me to have a good, wonderful pregnancy that ended with a healthy baby. Wasn’t going to happen.  Options like having a kid with horrible life-affecting illnesses and handicaps, or having a stillbirth, or worst – not knowing and having to make a choice.  I ended up knowing what I had to do. I was able to end the pregnancy without wondering if I was making the right choice. That was a huge blessing.”

Opportunities: Death is permanent. Once a death occurs, it is hard to say,” I am sorry”, or, “I love you”. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to tell others that we love them or that we are sorry or how important they are in our lives. Take this blessing of time to let others in your life know how important they are to you. Do it now, and don’t wait.

Search: Search out others that have recently lost a loved one or acquaintance. Share your story, you thoughts, your feelings and your concerns and insights with them. Sharing, or volunteering to help someone else feel better will help you both.

Celebrate: Celebrate any occasion, any holiday or special event with a friend and share all the joys of the person lost. Remember well, and then go ahead and enjoy the day, the hour and the moment. NOW is what we all have.

© 2010 Kelasan, Inc.