Welcome to House of Light, a blog produced and managed by the staff of Casa de la Luz Hospice. Casa de la Luz ("house of light" in Spanish) is a locally owned and operated hospice, serving the city and surrounding communities of Tucson, Arizona. Through this blog, we hope to offer education, information, and support about caregiving and hospice care to terminally ill patients and their loved ones. For more information, visit the contact us page.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Options for Final Arrangements

Funeral arrangements don’t make for the most exciting or happiest discussions, but they’re important ones to have. Letting your loved ones know how you want to be memorialized after death is a way for them to honor your life and your memory. It will help them to know that they fulfilled your last wishes.

We explored a few of the more non-traditional means of being remembered, and we hope this eases you into starting the final arrangements discussion with your family and/or friends.

It’s not uncommon for family members to scatter a loved one’s ashes in a scenic location. Many individuals choose a place of meaning during their lives—the family vacation spot or the mountains overlooking their hometown. Today, many businesses are available to assist you with the scattering. For example, Google “burial at sea” and you’ll discover plenty of people who can charter you a boat and assist you in scattering ashes into the ocean.

For those who wish for a more permanent resting spot within the world’s waters, a reef burial might be just the thing. A major reef burial project is the Neptune Memorial Reef Project, east of Key Biscayne in Miami. It is the largest man-made reef ever conceived. Family members of the deceased often charter boats to visit the site. Others choose to become dive certified so they can go below the water to visit a loved one and track the reef’s growth.

If the ocean doesn’t sound like the right place for your ashes to rest, perhaps a memorial spaceflight is the way to go. An organization called Space Celestis offers post-cremation memorial spaceflights. You can choose from a variety of different services. Families are invited to partake in a pre-launch memorial service, and then are allowed to gather at the liftoff site.

If you’re planning on taking your loved one’s ashes to be scattered somewhere, be aware of any regulations that might be in place. If you’re planning on flying with the ashes, check the TSA website for their guidelines on transporting the deceased. TSA also recommends that you check with your airline. Another note of caution is that the scattering of ashes may not be allowed in some places. You can check with the company or organization overseeing the chosen location for rules regarding scattering. Some private organizations may say no, and government agencies may require you to file for a permit.

If burial is more your preference, you might consider a green burial—one that promotes ecological conservation. The Ramsey Creek Preserve, in Westminster, South Carolina, was founded by Memorial Ecosystems and calls itself the first “green cemetery” in the United States. The standards for being buried within the preserve include 1) no embalming fluid, 2) a biodegradable casket, and 3) no vault. From Memorial Ecosystems’ website, “The preserve was formed to harness the funeral industry for land protection and restoration, to fund non-profits, education, the arts, and scientific research, and to provide a less expensive and more meaningful burial option.” The preserve is approved by the Green Burial Council, an independent, nonprofit organization.

These are, of course, only options, and there are other choices available to you when determining final arrangements. Consider these just a way to start the conversation.

Note: Casa de la Luz Hospice does not specifically endorse any businesses or options mentioned in this article, and only offers the information as a sample of available options. 

By Carrie Bui, Communications Specialist

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