Toronto Star


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Cremation is becoming an increasing­ly popular option according to Mount Pleasant Group, which has over the past several years invested in new technologi­es and services to cater to the needs of an ever-diversifyi­ng population.

“The number of families looking for cremation, it’s definitely an increasing trend,” says Sarah Mannone, Assistant Manager of Funeral Operations at Toronto’s Simple Alternativ­e Funeral Centre.

“Cremation is more common now than 20 or 40 years ago, and it varies depending on family traditions and religious cultures.”

Though talking about funerals and the end of life is sometimes seen as taboo, MPG aims to demystifyi­ng the death care industry and help people feel more at ease exploring their options. Because times have changed and — just like any other customerse­rvice industry — MPG aims to provide the modern services and care that their customers are seeking.

A video on the company’s website walks the viewer through the entire cremation process. Extensive FAQ and blog sections are designed to answer questions about any services offered by MPG.

“Transparen­cy is huge to us,” says Glenn McClary, president and CEO of MPG. “We were the first to put our price lists on our website, which we did about eleven years ago. The industry is a bit like, ‘we don’t want to say more than we want to say.’ For us, that’s not how we do business. Serving customers is more than just a transactio­n or sale.”

With the rising demand for cremation options, MPG has responded by modernizin­g its equipment and facilities, and ensuring that people of all cultures and religions will feel that their concerns and wishes are respected.

Once forbidden, cremation is now allowed for Roman Catholics, while some religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism prefer the option. Cremation is not permitted for followers of Muslim, Greek Orthodox or Jewish Orthodox religions.

“As some people are less traditiona­l

Cremation is more common now than 20 or 40 years ago, and it varies depending on family traditions and religious cultures.

or less religious these days,” says Mannone, who has been a licensed funeral director for 18 years, “some look to cremation as a simpler option.”

With cremation, families have choices to make once they receive the ashes. They can scatter them, keep them at home, divide them among family members, even turn them into jewelry through a process that essentiall­y turns them into a diamond.

Some MPG properties have scatter gardens where families can place a plaque or monument, creating a permanent record. Scattering is permitted on private property, with the owner’s permission, or on Crown land that is unoccupied.

The ashes can be interred in a plot, or the urn or container can be placed in a niche, which is a compartmen­t located above ground where the urn can be housed permanentl­y. These are often located within a mausoleum or chapel.

“Families looking to witness the cremation is also a growing trend,” says Mannone. “They are able to view the whole process all the way up to receiving the urn. Some cultures are very active in that they will want to push the button that begins the process, and view the casket being placed into the cremation chamber.”

MPG has created spaces — currently four facilities in the GTA — where such witnessing ceremonies can take place. Families can choose to participat­e as they desire, witnessing the casket as it moves into the combustion chamber. The entire process usually takes less than three hours, and families can be present — in a comfortabl­e and social atmosphere — the entire time.


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