We don’t often think of them as “grave decisions.” But they really are. Brave decisions, too.
I was reminded of this by reading the Knoxville Journal-Express a few weeks ago (good paper to read) and noting an article on the front page that told of a Knoxville funeral director seeking a zoning permit to build a crematorium in Knoxville. I was amazed.
As a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, I remember that when I served in Los Angeles, Omaha, and Kansas City, almost all the people for whom I conducted a memorial service had opted that their bodies be cremated. But back here where open country prevails and where beautiful grave yards stretch over rolling hills, I hadn’t heard much of cremation. In fact in Marion County where I’ve joined those long funeral processions that carry dear ones out to a chosen spot of earth, I’ve admired country cemeteries. Oak trees protect the sloping hillsides of Indiana Chapel Cemetery where my grandparents rest near Attica. My other grandparents are closer to the land they farmed as they rest in Lincoln Cemetery. They made grave, time-honored decisions as they chose those burial sites, decisions that had to be made years before their own passing when their child died and needed a final resting place.
A few years ago my husband, Bob, and I spoke with one Knoxville funeral home about our own “brave decisions” I was surprised when the undertaker told us that as many as 20 percent of his clients chose cremation.
And I was surprised – also pleased – that a brave mortician here wanted to have a crematorium. I’d recently realized, “If we keep on dying and burying ourselves at the current rate, one day our graveyards will take more land than cornfields. Will that help feed the world?”