Tag Archives: cremation

You thought you could be buried with your pet…maybe not in New York.

Many people consider their pet a member of the family and, when it dies, they want to remember that pet by burying it in a special place.

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematory in Hartsdale, New York claims to be the oldest pet cemetery in the United States and, until recently, it allowed people to have their ashes buried next to those of their pet. After all, some people are closer to their dogs or cats than they are to other members of their family so it makes sense that they would want to be near them after death.

However, last February, the New York Division of Cemeteries announced that this was no longer possible and has since blocked Hartsdale from taking in human ashes. The government claimed that Hartsdale has been violating a law requiring that any cemetery providing burial space for humans must be operated as a not-for-profit corporation. By charging a fee and promoting their human interment service, Hartsdale was violating laws governing not-for-profit corporations.

According to a spokesperson for Hartsdale, it is a private, for profit business and, as such, is not under the jurisdiction of the Division of Cemeteries.

Until the law is clarified and a final decision made, people like Taylor York, a law professor, are out of luck. York’s uncle, Thomas Ryan, died in April and had arranged, and prepaid, to join his wife, Bunny and their two dogs, BJ I and BJ II, who are already buried there. Now Ryan’s ashes sit in a wooden box at his sister’s home because the state’s new rule won’t allow him to be buried at Hartsdale.

What do you think? Pet’s ashes are not allowed to be buried in a human cemetery; should people’s ashes be allowed to be buried with their pets in a pet cemetery?

Plan A Funeral

Saying goodbye....

Saying goodbye....

Just when family and friends are dealing with the emotional grief associated with a death, a family member or friend will have to assume the responsibility for making tough decisions regarding the disposition of the body and planning funeral or memorial services.  The decisions are especially difficult if the death occurred unexpectedly or the subject of how to dispose of the body and where to bury the remains was never discussed with the decedent and/or the family prior to death.

However, this  stress can be reduced if your funeral is planned in advance and your wishes are put into writing and communicated to family and or friends.  That way, they will know what you want and will be able to carry out your plans rather that trying to figure out what you might have decided.

Whether you are planning a funeral in advance or the funeral is being planned after your death, you probably have a general idea about the kind of funeral to have.  This idea is probably influenced by religious and cultural practices, family traditions and cost. But like many others, all the things that would once have been included in a traditional funeral may no longer be wanted; preference might be to have a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death.  Perhaps the choice  might be for  a ceremony that is personalized and unique to the person being honored.  There might be an unlimited budget for the funeral or most of the assets may be left to family, friends or charities leaving very little to spend on someone’s last big event.

Regardless of the ideas you have, there are several things that should be considered.  The links below will help you to think through these things and will help you to make the necessary decisions.

Donate your body to science and someone may profit from your death!

Many people leave directions on how they would like their body to be disposed of.  Before making a final decision, they may consider burial or cremation.  Another option they may think about is the possibility of donating their body to medical science.

There are many medical schools that would love the gift of a body that can be used to help students study human anatomy. And there are non-profit organizations that act as clearing houses for groups of those schools.  For example, in Florida, the Anatomical Board of the State of Florida office in Gainesville, Florida (800-628-2594) handles all of the “donations” of bodies to all the medical schools in that state.  And there is a web site, maintained by  the State of Florida Anatomical Board  http://www.med.ufl.edu/anatbd/usprograms.html,  which has a comprehensive list of medical schools across the country that are interested in receiving cadaevars. 

But beware.  Over the last several years, several for-profit companies have been formed that take a body and sell it, or parts of it, for a large profit….often more than $100,000 – $150,000! 

If you are considering donating your body, think about this.  Do you want someone to make money off of your death – money that will not go to your family but to a faceless corporation.  If the answer is no, check out the organization carefully before you sign any paperwork.

Bio Cremation bill passed in California

Recently we wrote about a new, green form of cremation – bio cremation from resomation.   On Thursday, May 6th the California State Assembly unanimously approved a bill which makes this process legal in California. 

In 2008, more than 45% of the deceased in California were cremated.  With that large a percentage choosing cremation, it’s good to know that there will soon be another, more environmentally safe alternative available. 

Because the equipment for this process is quite expensive, it is impossible to predict how quickly bio cremation will come to a funeral home near you.  However, one mortuary in Corona has already voiced interest in using this process and more will definitely follow now that it’s legal.

Bio Cremation – a new, green form of cremation

This week the California legislature is voting on a bill that will make bio cremation another legal way to dispose of human remains; it will provide an eco-friendlier alternative to the current choices – burial or cremation.

What makes bio cremation via resomation different? 

The current alternatives – traditional cremation and burial pose threats to the environment.

Cremation uses fossil fuels which are regulated by environmental officials and which have the potential to add to pollution because of their green house gas emissions.  Burial poses another environmental threat, primarily because of the chemicals such as formaldehyde that are used in embalming fluids; formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that eventually leaks into the ground as the body decomposes.

Bio cremation via resomation, on the other hand, does not use anything toxic or harmful to the environment.  According to a representative of Matthews International, exclusive distributor of bio cremation equipment for the United States, this new option uses a process called alkaline hydrolysis.  This process reduces a body to dry bone residue which can be buried in a cemetery or returned to the family in an urn just like the currently available options.  In case you’ve never heard of alkaline hydrolysis, it’s basically the same natural process that occurs in our small intestines to aid digestion of foods after we eat.  But for bio cremation it’s done in a big stainless steel cylinder and uses 95% water in an alkaline solution.

What does bio cremation cost?

In the short run, the cost to the consumer should be no more than $300 – $500 higher than that of traditional cremation, a small premium to pay to better protect our environment.  This premium is necessitated by the high initial investment that will need to be made by crematoriums, etc. to purchase the necessary equipment. 

Where is the process legal?

Although the bio cremation process has been legal in Europe for awhile, it is just gaining approval in the United States.

Florida was the first state to legalize this process, followed closely by Maine and Minnesota.  It is anticipated that the California legislature will approve bio cremation this week.  And approval by legislatures in Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State is expected soon.

Adoption will be slower in other states, due in part to the fact that many of their legislatures don’t meet again until 2011.

What do consumers think?

Consumer testing of the concept has been very positive with some people commenting that they are pleased that there is finally a funeral service offering that is relevant to today.