What’s Old is New: Traditions in Putting Loved Ones to Rest

Valley Memorial

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. When it comes to the pre-passing period and then putting a loved one to rest, many families are returning to old world traditions to make them feel more comfortable and connected to the process of death or dying.

“We are seeing a definitive increase in people embracing tried-and-true traditions that can date back hundreds of years,” says Jaguar Rude, Funeral Home Manager, Director and Embalmer, at Valley Memorial Park in Novato. “More families want to stay connected through both end-of-life stages as well as being more involved in the laying-to-rest process.”

Five tried-and-true traditions increasing in popularity:

Hiring death companions and death doulas.

Desiree Celeste, Death and Grief Companion.

The tradition of having a death companion or doula has been common in many other cultures for centuries, but is now catching on in Western civilizations. According to a survey by The Conversation Project, 90% of people say that talking with loved ones about end of life is important, yet only 27% have actually done so. Death doulas can advocate for the family, not only coaching them through the stages of a passing and helping them talk through their emotions, but also assisting the family with medical team interactions and post-death arrangements.

Greater family participation during end-of-life stages.

In olden days, families physically bonded together to care for sick or dying family members. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in being more hands on with relatives reaching end-of-life. According to Jaguar, the next generation of family members are more comfortable about openly discussing death and participating in caring for their elders in their greatest time of need.

Pre-cremation ceremonies.

Valley Memorial

Jaguar is seeing more families who want to view their loved ones before cremation, “whether to engage in a full-on pre-cremation ritual or simply take a moment to just say goodbye.” Some families desire to witness the actual cremation if it takes place on-site. (Valley Memorial Park has an on-site crematory, unlike most funeral homes). 

Alternatives to urns or cremated remains-scattering.

Valley Memorial

To feel closer to the loved one who has passed, more families are opting to turn cremated remains into visible, touchable objects. A new, popular choice is to create a set of river stones from the cremated remains, which can be kept or scattered. Valley Memorial Park has partnered with Parting Stone to offer this option to its clients.

Environmentally friendly, or “green” burials.

The practice of preserving remains through embalming and using formal caskets for viewing the deceased dates back to the Civil War era; even then, these services were for wealthy or aristocratic individuals. Back then, most families chose to place their loved one in a simple casket or use the culturally preferred burial shroud. Today, there is a renewed interest in the practice of using shrouds or natural caskets and placing bodies in more natural gravesites, such as those found in Valley Memorial Park’s Garden of Tranquility.

To learn more about Valley Memorial Park and its range of services, click here.