Hav­ing trust in your fu­neral direc­tor is im­por­tant

Record Observer - - Senior Satelite - By RYAN HELFEN­BEIN

I re­call be­ing a young boy and my fa­ther look­ing my way and say­ing “Trust me …” while get­ting on my first roller coaster. With my knees knock­ing and tears nearly com­ing down my face, the coaster started its de­cent from a long slow ride into the sky. And sec­onds af­ter the de­scent … I never looked back and con­tinue to en­joy roller coast­ers with my own chil­dren to­day. Dad was cor­rect. “Trust me, you will en­joy this ….”

This level of trust is some­thing that needs to come to the fore­front with cre­ma­tion in the fu­neral in­dus­try to­day. Ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Fu­neral Direc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, a small per­cent­age of fu­neral homes ac­tu­ally own a cre­ma­tory, yet 100 per­cent of them of­fer this ser­vice. So this brings up not only the ques­tion of “Where is my loved one go­ing?” but also “How can I be as­sured those are the ashes of my loved one?”

The scary re­al­ity of this is most peo­ple use the same fu­neral home over and over again, and there­fore the level of trust is never ques­tioned. With own­er­ship, staffing and in­dus­try changes, it’s crit­i­cal that we ques­tion the fu­neral firm of choice and their in­volve­ment in the cre­ma­tion process.

One can only shake their heads with dis­gust that in an in­dus­try solely based on trust, cre­ma­tion neg­li­gence still oc­curs. For­tu­nately, there are ques­tions we can ask our un­der­taker to be sure cre­ma­tion will be done in not only a le­gal fash­ion, but more im­por­tantly a dig­ni­fied and pro­fes­sional man­ner.

The “go to” ques­tions be­fore a fu­neral firm is se­lected should be: Do you own the cre­ma­tory? What iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process do you have in place to en­sure I re­ceive that of my loved one? And the most im­por­tant ques­tion: Who is over­see­ing the cre­ma­tion?

Do you own a cre­ma­tory is some­thing that re­ally gets my goat. If a fu­neral firm is go­ing to pro­vide cre­ma­tion, then they should own a cre­ma­tory. Shouldn’t it be that sim­ple?

We need to be sure that when that un­der­taker comes to bring my loved one into their care that they never, ever, leave that firms care. To­day we find un­der­tak­ers meet­ing with the fam­i­lies while their loved one is be­ing trans­ported by a third party to a dif­fer­ent com­pany to do cre­ma­tion, who in turn does cre­ma­tion for many fu­neral homes in that area. Rather than risk any neg­li­gence, we must be sure that the fu­neral firm we work with 100 per­cent en­sures our loved ones never leave their care.

The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process is some­thing that we of­ten never think to ask that un­der­taker. If an un­der­taker can­not pro­vide this in a writ­ten form, than we may want to con­sider go­ing else­where. From the first time the de­ceased comes into the firm’s care to the time that their cre­mated re­mains are re­turned to our fam­ily, a well-doc­u­mented iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process should be ap­par­ent. I.d. tags, metal cre­ma­tion discs, log books and much more must be in place be­fore con­sid­er­ing us­ing that firm for cre­ma­tion. Any knowl­edge­able and trans­par­ent cre­ma­tion ser­vice provider will be able to pro­vide this to us eas­ily. This in turn pro­vides the as­sur­ance that the cre­mated re­mains be­ing re­turned are in fact that of our loved one.

The last ques­tion is one that we would think is a no­brainer. But when it comes to cre­ma­tion, not all cre­ma­to­ries have Cer­ti­fied Cre­ma­tion Li­censed Fu­neral Direc­tors over­see­ing their cre­ma­tions. Be sure that the fu­neral firm you work with has over­sight that in­cludes a li­censed fu­neral direc­tor who is also a Cer­ti­fied Cre­ma­tory Op­er­a­tor to en­sure that things are done both pro­fes­sion­ally and eth­i­cally.

Trust is a pow­er­ful word. We are trust­ing a lot to­day and it al­most seems every­where we turn our trust is bro­ken. When it comes to cre­ma­tion in the fu­neral in­dus­try, we need to be sure that we choose a provider that can be trusted. When that un­der­taker says “Trust me …” we need to feel com­fort­able enough to sim­ply an­swer with a “thank you.” Al­though my nerves said dif­fer­ently when my fa­ther lead me onto that roller coaster, I walked away with the best feel­ing ever, not just know­ing that I now en­joy the thrill of coast­ers, but that I have some­one that is truly look­ing out for me and one that I can trust.

RYAN HELFEN­BEIN

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