Creativity is, I think, one of the most important skills, um, of a funeral director and it’s one of the most important elements of putting together a memorable memorial event.
We did a service for uh, for a lady in the area here. She has collected 3,700 salt and pepper shakers in her life time. They actually bagged up 250 sets in cellophane with a purple ribbon – that was her favourite colour – and a little tag that said, uh, “Grandma’s last gift to you.” And the grandchildren stood at the doors and handed out these salt and pepper – I still have a delft blue salt and paper shaker set at home and I remember this lady’s name because of that event.
We actually had a minister brought into the memorial service here on the back seat of a Harley Davidson. We had the rumble of the engine, the doors came open, he came in, and everyone’s eyes went big and wild, and then they stood and applauded because there was something just so appropriate about his bike being here. And on the other hand we had a fellow once who had, uh, family brought in a Lay-Z-Boy, and they had his TV clicker on the, on the arm of the Lay-Z-Boy there. And you know what, he loved watching TV in his chair.
Um, there is a company who will actually take part of the cremated remains and send them into outer space. I heard the company can do three things: they can actually make them land on the moon, so they are there permanently. They can have them up in outer space for a certain period of time, and then they will re-enter. And they actually calibrate and calculate that time your loved one turns into a shooting star upon re-entry. Or they can send them out, and they just keep going.
One of the things that made my, my father’s funeral quite special, uh – especially for my mom – was arranging for, um, a dove release at the grave site. Just the symbolism of that, um, an element of letting go, an element of spirit, an allusion to peace, uh, a sense of going and joining those that have gone before.
Other, probably novelty or more unique things I’ve heard about with people scattering. There is a company that will actually take the cremated remains. They actually, through scientific process, reduce the carbon inside of it – so it’s very pure – they pressurize it, and they turn the cremated remains into a diamond. That’s something that a family can then wear. Uh, other families, they’ve taken the cremated remains, they’ve given it to a company that for marine conservation will actually create an artificial reef, pouring some of the cremated remains into a concrete structure, which is then placed, memorialized, documented, to create maybe a new living reef out in the ocean for someone. I’ve had people say that they’ve taken some of the ashes and loaded them into shotguns and had a 21-gun salute. The originality is only limited by people’s imagination nowadays.
Creativity doesn’t need to be limited to a, you know, to what we do at a service. Sometimes it’s just placing something into the casket with the deceased. Um, one lady, um, she left her ring in with her husband. He’d given it to her and, uh, it just was really meaningful to her to do that.
Having a ‘yes’ attitude, uh, to suggestions that are made is something that, I think, we pride ourselves in here. And it’s part of what, I think sets us, sets us apart.