Cremains of the Day

A local funeral business ran an ad on the obituary page over the weekend promising cremation services that “do things the right way” with “no short cuts or compromises.” And what’s all that supposed to mean? The  bottom line is that they promise “peace of mind that the cremated remains you receive are those of your loved one.”

Ah — so this is a big problem, getting the wrong remains returned?

Mistakes and intentional abuses may happen in the funeral industry, including the mishandling of cremated remains — but there is no evidence that this is a widespread occurrence. It seems especially unlikely in New York, where the business is heavily regulated.

But these people are planting the idea in your head that instead of receiving the remains of your loved one, anybody or anything could be in that urn. Since I was curious, I went to the advertiser’s web site and looked at the FAQs. They include this passage:

“Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation at a time, and the vast majority of crematories can only cremate one body at a time, it is next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains.”

Ok, so which is it: We should be worried about mistakes, or it’s next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains?

I hope that the nonsense in this ad doesn’t raise irrational fears in people. There’s already enough to worry about when someone dies, and it seems unfair to throw one more uncertainty into the mix.

But what the hell, death is a business like everything else. Somebody’s gonna get the client. May as well be you.

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