De­bunk­ing cre­ma­tion leg­ends

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - RE­BECCA MOORE

In the past it was a taboo sub­ject, but plan­ning for death and talk­ing about what hap­pens ‘‘when the cur­tain closes’’ is be­com­ing more com­mon.

Ten-year-old Tyler Buck­ing­ham has al­ready taken an in­ter­est in the topic.

At an open day at South­land Cre­ma­to­rium, Rock­dale Rd, In­ver­cargill on Sun­day, to cel­e­brate 40 year since it opened, Tyler went along for a tour with his mum and two sis­ters.

Tours in­cluded a show and tell of the equip­ment and process of cre­ma­tion – mi­nus the bod­ies – and the pub­lic asked ques­tions.

‘‘I want to learn about it and tell my friends,’’ Tyler said.

As he got older he was be­com­ing more in­ter­ested in what hap­pened af­ter death, and ad­mit­ted he had al­ready de­cided to get cre­mated. ‘‘I don’t want to be in the ground.’’

City Coun­cil su­per­vi­sor of ceme­tery and cre­ma­to­rium ser­vices Ricky Mulqueen said what hap­pens af­ter death had in the past been a ’’taboo’’ sub­ject, but things were chang­ing.

Other or­gan­i­sa­tions through­out NZ had open days which were well re­ceived by the pub­lic.

The tours were about ‘‘de­bunk­ing ur­ban leg­ends’’ about what goes on at a cre­ma­to­rium.

Peo­ple of­ten thought that bod­ies were saved up and burned at once, and that the cre­ma­to­rium chimney smoked when a body was cre­mated, but they were not true, Mulqueen said.

‘‘It’s about be­ing bet­ter in­formed ... peo­ple are in­ter­ested in what does hap­pen when the cur­tain closes.’’

Com­mon ques­tions were about the process of cre­ma­tion, coffins and how to make ar­range­ments.

‘‘There’s a def­i­nite break­down of taboo, peo­ple talk about it more.’’

Fam­ily groups were at the open day to get ed­u­cated.

‘‘Chil­dren are nat­u­rally cu­ri­ous so it’s good, it’s healthy.’’

Cre­ma­tions were be­com­ing more pop­u­lar world­wide, but there had been a spe­cific spike in South­land in the past few years.

Last year there were about 250 buri­als, and more than 400 cre­ma­tions, up from about 350 the previous year.

Peo­ple tended to choose cre­ma­tion for cost and be­cause burial was us­ing up the land, he said.

Trends in cus­tom coffins were also on the rise. ‘‘We’re see­ing a lot more home­made coffins.’’

Fu­neral di­rec­tors were also of­fer­ing more per­son­alised op­tions.

ROBYN EDIE/STUFF

A tour group lis­tens to City Coun­cil su­per­vi­sor of ceme­tery and cre­ma­to­rium ser­vices Ricky Mulqueen.

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