Although each of us will experience death differently, it is an inevitable part of life. As we grow, we learn how to find meaning in death, process our emotions, and celebrate the remarkable lives that came before us.
Beyond understanding the concept of death, we will all experience the death of a loved one throughout our lives. Not only will these moments challenge us and change how we view the world, but they also bring difficult decisions regarding our loved ones’ final resting places and memorials.
These practical considerations can also help us grieve the loss of our incredible loved ones and honor the ways they touched our lives. When it comes to asking these difficult questions and making these important decisions for yourself or a loved one, we turn to the death care industry.
Let’s take a closer look at the death care industry and your options for post-life memorial services.
What Does the Death Care Industry Mean?
While the word industry may sound like a one-size-fits-all approach to post-life services, the death care industry is not simply a money-making opportunity. We need services that can help us manage the logistics of death, and the death care industry provides the tools we need to ensure that our loved ones are laid to rest with dignity and care.
For instance, when a loved one dies, their body needs to be cared for immediately. Having services in place to help us embalm or cremate our loved ones quickly is an example of how death care can be industrialized for the better.
This is a task we can’t perform ourselves that needs to be overseen by experts — it’s a blessing to have professionals we can trust to care for these logistical necessities, giving us the time we need to grieve our incredible loved ones.
What Is Death Care?
Another way of thinking of death care is to think of it as post-life services. Unlike hospice or palliative care for end of life, death care helps us manage the events after our loved one has passed.
Death care is an industry that has been built on key principles of honor, ethics, and hygiene. For instance, when a loved one dies, there are several steps that are taken to ensure that their body is treated with the utmost respect and dignity.
The clinical side of death care ensures that our loved ones are laid to rest ethically and hygienically. Being careful to ensure that our loved ones are handled humanely and hygienically is crucial to preventing the spread of disease and maintaining dignity even after death.
Death care isn’t just the technical side of death but also deals with the commemorative and memorial aspects of it. While these services typically go hand in hand, these two sides of death care are very different.
Humans are communal in nature. From the moment we’re born, our life experience is a mixture of nature and nurture from those around us. As we progress through life, we experience milestones through celebrations and memorials. Graduations, birthday parties, marriage, and even difficult events like divorce and death are experienced alongside the support of our loved ones.
When someone we love passes on, an important part of that process is the social aspect of death: the funeral, the memorial, and the choices we make to commemorate their memory and keep them close. This is the other side of death care that is equally as important as the technical aspects of caring for our loved one’s physical bodies.
What Are Our Death Care Options?
Each of our loved ones is unique, and the death care industry provides many services for post-life care. We can choose the path that best honors our loved ones’ wishes or best represents the person they were in life. By researching all of our death care options, we can make an informed decision regarding our loved ones’ final resting places.
Remember, there are no right or wrong options when it comes to post-life services — instead, we must choose the option that honors us and our loved ones’ desires best.
Donation to Science
Donating our bodies to science is a selfless and honorable choice. This form of post-life service bypasses the cost of funeral arrangements, burial, or cremation. Our body is immediately processed into scientific research.
This is a kind option that helps provide a legacy for all of humankind, as this research is a great asset to the scientific community. However, as noble an option as it may be, there is a clear drawback that means it will not be the choice for everyone.
Because the body is donated to science, there is no way to have a traditional memorial service where your loved one’s remains are present. These services play a unique role in closure and processing these events that are so difficult.
While donating our bodies to science is a thoughtful option, it’s one that must be made with the consent and support of our loved ones and survivors.
One of the most traditional forms of death care is burial, a well-known process that has been passed on for generations. While burial can be sentimental for many, it does come at a higher cost than other memorial options. It not only requires a funeral home, but also the expense of a casket and chemical preparation through embalming.
While there are varying levels of financial commitment associated with different burial options, burial is largely the most expensive option for post-life services. Families and loved ones who chose burial likely do so because it provides a special opportunity to communally celebrate their loved one’s remarkable lives using the traditional services that burial provides.
Cremation has become the most common form of post-life service. Cremation is the process of transforming the human body into what is known as human ashes. Cremation can be done through heat-based processes or liquid-based processes, also called aquamation.
Each style of cremation has a different level of financial commitment, but they both allow surviving friends and family members to receive their loved one’s ashes for memorial purposes.
During the cremation process, the soft tissue of the body is dissolved using heat or emulsified liquid, leaving bone material and other hard organic matter.These bones are then transformed into a fine grayish-white powder and given to the surviving family, typically in a commemorative urn.
Families may choose to hold traditional memorial services using the ashes in place of a body, or they may scatter these ashes in an area of sentimental value. We can also create portable tokens using these ashes such as pieces of jewlery that we can carry with us as a physical reminder of the incredible affection we have for our loved ones who have passed.
Honoring Our Remarkable Loved Ones
Death care represents some of the most important decisions that we can make for ourselves and our remarkable loved ones. Whether we are making these decisions preemptively for our own death journey or we have the privilege to make the decision for our loved ones, the death care industry lends dignity and expertise to post-life care. These decisions can help guide us through processing the death of a loved one and help us celebrate their exceptional lives.
One of the most important aspects of learning how to heal and move on from the experience of death is in commemorating and memorializing our loved one who passed on. This can look like visiting a graveside, placing an urn in our homes, or creating a memorial cremation diamond.
Whatever your journey with death care looks like, remember that choosing the options that best allow for you and your family to remember your loved one is important. Keeping their memory close is one of the most important parts of healing through a death journey, and choosing the proper death care options is a powerful way to help do that.