Pacific Northwesterners are famous for being a little different from the rest of the country, a distinction that apparently extends to even after our death. While cremation rates are on the rise around the nation, Washington State has one of the highest, second only to Nevada.
How does this trend affect people who still want a place to visit their friends and relatives once they’ve passed? For some families, the solution is to buy a cemetery plot with a headstone commemorating the person’s life, often including multiple family members in one section. “The stones are almost identical to a regular marker,” says Tony Ward, owner of Lasting Touch Memorials. “They’ll order one plot, design the marker, and whoever passes away next is added to the stone. You can tell a cremation plot by how many names are on the headstone.” Most sites have a maximum of four cremations in one plot.
Not every site contains the actual remains, however. “People’s ashes can be scattered in the sea, but their family may still want their name immortalized in a headstone,” says Ward. “The person isn’t buried there but they are remembered there.” Plots with multiple family members can be useful for future generations, tracing their roots, he maintains. “You can clearly see that this person is related to these other people,” he says. “It shows how everyone is tied together.”
As burial trends change, so have the containers that hold ashes. Many clients come to Ward with questions about urns they intend to bury. “They want to know if they need an outside burial container in order to place it in the ground,” he says. “It depends on cemetery regulations. Some do require an outside container, but there are urns on the market now that are environmentally friendly, which means that nothing from the outside will touch the ashes. It’s really a family preference.”
Co-mingling ashes among family members is common, as is dividing ashes into smaller urn containers. Recently, converting remains into necklaces, wrist bands, or earrings containing small amounts of ash encased in glass beads or tiny urns, used as pendants, has become a trend. “That’s becoming more and more popular,” he says. “The amount of ash is so miniscule that it doesn’t look like an urn, just nice jewelry.”
Within the last ten years, the selection of urns has greatly expanded to include more customized features. “If you think of the standard urn that sits on the mantle, those are getting moved out,” says Ward. “Now you can get wood, bronze or ceramic. It could be a block or a sculpture. You can get almost any kind of lettering you want on the outside and have things like a poem or a verse or your family tree inscribed. It’s all sand blasted.”
If current trends continue, those opting for cremation in the future will have memorialization options that didn’t exist just a decade ago and Lasting Touch Memorials will be on hand to offer these latest choices.
For more information about Lasting Touch Memorials, visit www.lastingtouchmemorials.com or call (360)458-9070.