Funeral Homes Saves Your DNA

When I think of the purpose of a Funeral Home, I think of a business that aids one in the process of celebrating the life of a loved one and ultimately disposing of the remains in the desired way. But what if I told you that one Funeral Home is giving you one last chance to preserve the deceased's DNA? That is what one Funeral Home in Santa Barbra is aiming to do. For the low price of about three-hundred dollars, scientist will preserve the deceased's DNA indefinitely, opening up a number of doors for the field of genetics.  Not […]

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Historic Grave Markers Do Not Make Good Lawn Decorations

According to Lew Keen of the Newport Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission, theft of historic grave markers for use as patio stones and well covers, among other things, is a chronic issue. In October, five long-missing historic gravestones were finally returned to the Colonial-era cemetery Common Burying Ground in Newport, Rhode Island. Under Rhode Island law, it is a felony to steal a gravestone, and consequences can include prison for up to three years, a fine of up to $5,000, and paying the cost to repair the grave. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-20-2 (“Every person who shall willfully and maliciously . . . remove any . . […]

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Proposed Muslim Funeral Home Pits County Officials Against Establishment Clause

No ground has yet been broken, but a Muslim funeral home in Georgia is already facing vocal opposition. The facility—which would be the first of its kind in the state—is part of a multi-stage development recently announced by Al Maad Al Islami, a nonprofit corporation led by Imam Mohammad Islam. The funeral home and an accompanying cemetery constitute the first stage, set to be built along Highway 162 in Newton County, located southeast of Atlanta. According to Islam, the second stage of the project would include building a mosque on the site. Depending on the availability of additional funding, a […]

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No Man Left Behind

On Thursday, November 10, 2016 a funeral was held for a two Vietnam veterans with no living relatives. However, they were not laid to rest alone. The funerals for Clifford Ray Dudley and Marine Lance Cpl. Dennis Ray Ashley Corpus was held in Christi, Texas at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery. When no next of kin were found, the cemetery made a call to the public to attend the funerals. They posted on their Facebook page, “We do NOT leave Veterans behind.” About 400 people showed up to mourn the veterans. Similarly, last Friday November 11, 2016, another funeral […]

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Pour Momma down the drain

Some people think that a method that reduces a body to a greenish-brown liquid and bone fragments is a barbaric way to say our final goodbyes to a loved one. Alkaline hydrolysis is a chemical process that uses heat, lye, pressure, and circulation; the body is put inside a steel vessel with about 80 gallons of water that is heated up to 300 degrees. In a few short hours, most of the body dissolves into liquid and the remaining bone is ground into ash. Does that sound any more gross than, let’s say, putting a body into a brick-lined oven […]

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Zoning Mistake at Heart of Crematory Controversy in Black Mountain, NC

Harwood Home for Funerals in Black Mountain, North Carolina has spent the past few months at the center of a controversy with some citizens of Black Mountain.  Harwood’s owner Rick Harwood wished to expand his business to offer cremation services.  To do so he planned to purchase an incineration machine and expand the footprint of his existing building to install it.  The controversy came about due to a zoning mistake that prohibited expansion of the building.  In 2010, Black Mountain rezoned Harwood’s location to central business district zoning which does not allow for a funeral home to be operated.  The […]

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Cemetery Tourist: Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem, NC

Salem Cemetery was incorporated in 1856-1857 by E.A. Vogler, C.S. Bonner, A.H. Shepherd, H.A. Lemly, Thomas J. Wilson, Robert Gray, William Barrow, E.S. Patterson, E. Belo, H.W. Fries, Joshua Boner, E. Fries, and Jesse A. Waugh as the "Salem Cemetery Company."  An early depiction of Salem from 1881 shows Salem Cemetery south of Cemetery Road and west of Park Avenue. Salem Cemetery is adjacent to the Moravian cemetery of God's Acre, established in 1771, and just south of downtown Winston-Salem.  Photos below are from a visit on November 19, 2016.

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The Historic and Present Government Failure to Protect Native American Graves

The Native Americans Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”) was enacted in 1990 to “provide for the protection of Native American graves, and for other purposes.” It states that the ownership of cultural items, including human remains, “excavated or discovered on Federal or tribal lands after the date of enactment” to either the Indian tribe where lineage can be ascertained, the tribe whose tribal lands the find was made, or the tribe that can be historically linked to the area that the find was made. NAGPRA goes into more detail on what items count and how to tell which Indian […]

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Cremation and the Perception of Death: The Vatican States that Cremated Remains should be Stored in a “Sacred Place”

In recent years, cremation has become increasingly popular as a means of disposing of human remains. Cheaper than burial, cremation is more accessible for lower income families. As a result of increasing popularity, there are more cremated remains (“cremains”) than ever before. The question of how cremains should be treated after cremation often leads to difficult decisions by family members. Among other things, cremains may be buried, kept by family members, scattered in a meaningful place, preserved in pieces of jewelry or other mementos, or even grown into a tree. The question of how loved one’s cremains should be treated […]

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A Return to At-Home Burial: Funeral Home Start-Ups Embrace a Past Burial Tradition

For the past six or seven decades, funeral homes have been the standard location for conducting funeral rites for loved ones passed. However, this standard practice sometimes prevents the family of the deceased from being involved in the funeral preparations and ritual. Start-ups are trying to change that, mainly by re-introducing and assisting with an age-old type of funeral rites: at-home funerals. Undertaking LA, a start-up based in Los Angeles, California, is a funeral business that primarily assists clients with at-home funeral and burial preparations. The company was founded by Amber Carvaly and Caitlin Doughty in the summer of 2015, and […]

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