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September 2019


Cremated Remains at Home

Wondering What To Do With The Cremated Remains You Have At Home?

After a loved one is cremated, about 70% of families opt to take the urn home with them after the funeral services. There are a number of reasons that families choose to take cremated remains home. Some are still working through their grief and want to hold onto their loved one a bit longer, others haven’t given thought to the final disposition of the ashes, or they have been left instructions about scattering or are simply uncertain what to do.


If you are considering taking home the remains of a loved one, no matter the reason, it is important to realize that putting the ashes on the mantel or shelf is only a temporary solution. Eventually, when you pass, a final resting place will have to be found for your loved one. The situation can become more complicated if you’re storing the cremains of multiple family members.


It is important that you plan for this change, if not now, then by recording what’s to happen with your loved one’s final disposition in your own will. It’s better to make final disposition arrangements now, rather than burdening your family with figuring out what to do with the ashes of others. Fortunately, there are many options for the final disposition of ashes.


Columbarium or Mausoleum

Cremated remains can be placed in columbarium or mausoleum. These are permanent structures built in a graveyard or church. The terms columbarium and mausoleum are often used interchangeably, but typically a columbarium is built specifically for ashes, whereas a mausoleum can accommodate caskets as well as urns.



Ashes can be scattered on land, water or air. Many loved ones request that they be scattered in a favorite location or place of significance to them. Before scattering ashes you should check with local and state laws to determine if it is permitted in that area.


Converting Ashes

One option for the disposition of cremated remains, that is gaining popularity in Northern Europe, is converting the ashes into glass, diamonds or some other memorial token. Ashes may be fused with molten glass or turned into synthetic diamonds to then be used in memorials or even jewelry.


Cemetery Burial

Just like a casket, cremation urns can be buried in a cemetery plot. The cemetery plot may be specially designated as a cremation plot or a regular sized plot.


Making a Memorial

Cremated remains can also be incorporated into a memorial object, such as a bench, stone or marker. Normally, the ashes are held in an integrated repository. The memorial piece can then be placed in a garden, cemetery or other location.


Joanna and Gib with their beloved dogs Parker and Bo
Joanna and Gib Parthemore with their dogs, Parker (left) and Bo (right)


Man's Best Friend, During a Time of Grief

As a family of dog lovers, we already know that our canine companions provide us with so much love and comfort on a day to day basis. We are lucky to be able to bring our four-legged friends to work with us. Currently, Gibby’s dog, Tank, is on hand most days, handling the greeting duties. Bruce's dogs, Maggie and Jasper, sometimes or upon request attend pre-arrangement meetings. They all follow the long line of funeral home mascots, including Joanna and Gib’s labradoodles, Parker and Bo and Steve’s beloved dogs Caesar, Augustine and Oscar.


All of the funeral directors agree that having their own pets on hand, as well as pets of the families being served, is a benefit. “Occasionally, when a family arrives for an arrangement conference, I’ll go out to greet them and discover that their family dog is in the car,” explains Steve Parthemore. “I always invite them to bring their dog in with them for the arrangements, which the families appreciate.”


Some people also bring their dogs along to services. One memorable time was when several greyhound dogs were in attendance, when a member of a Greyhound Dog Rescue Group passed away. We also regularly have service dogs in attendance with their owners, ranging from guide dogs for the vision impaired to those who help give warnings prior to seizures.


Funeral services can be difficult for young, active children. There are times during visitations or when making arrangements, that children get bored. “If the kids are getting restless, we’ll often ask the parents if it is okay to bring one of the dogs down from the offices, to meet the children,” said Steve. Being able to interact with the dogs has a calming effect and their unconditional love is so helpful during a time of grief and stress. 


“In addition to our dogs being a positive experience for the families we serve, I know that having them with us in the office every day is also extremely beneficial for us,” added Gib. “Being a funeral director can be very emotionally draining. Getting a little loving from Tank, when I get to my desk always brightens my day.”


Talking to Children About Death

Explaining Death to Children, Before You Have To

Death is an inevitable part of life, but for young children, it can be a difficult concept to grasp. Because it is such a difficult topic to discuss with a young child, many parents wait until there is a death in the family to explain to children what happens when someone dies. Death is a difficult concept to explain to children, especially if you are trying to process your own grief.


It is beneficial to explain death to children in stages; rather than during the turmoil of the passing of a loved one. Taking the time beforehand can better prepare the child for deaths they may experience later in life.


Around the age of four, children can grasp the first aspect of death – irreversibility. At this age, it’s helpful to explain that when a person dies, they cannot come back. You might explain death as a person going away forever. Try to avoid metaphors of sleep, as they might cause a child to become afraid of sleeping.


Between the ages of five and seven, children start to grasp another aspect of death – non-functionality. They will understand that a dead body cannot feel, move, eat, etc. This might be the appropriate time to introduce concepts of an afterlife, if you believe in one. You can explain to your child that when a person passes away, their body stops functioning here but their spirit continues to live in heaven.


Also during this age, a child can grasp death’s final aspect – universality. Every living thing will eventually perish; plants, animals and people alike. This subject can be frightening for a child to learn, so you’ll want to save this one for last.


You may want to start explaining death’s universality by talking about plants and animals; explaining how every autumn, the leaves die and fall off trees. You can then make the connection that people are living things and like all living things, we will eventually pass away.


Explaining death using these stages and in absence of the passing of a loved one can provide a clearer message to the child and better prepare them for funerals later in their childhood.


Local Author Book on Grief

Local Authors’ Book On Grief Is A Valuable Resource

Grief is experienced by every individual in different ways. To help families along their unique journey, we often provide materials to help them understand the pain of grief. One book we’ve found to be very helpful is titled Grief: The Event, The Work, The Forever. In it, local authors Lynn Shiner and Lisa Zoll write about Lynn’s own grief journey, which began almost 25 years ago and explains the “Grief Trajectory” journey.


Lynn’s journey began on Christmas Eve of 1994, when both of her children were murdered by their father. While experiencing such a traumatic loss, Lynn found it difficult to fit her feelings within any of the models that grief counselors talked about. Lynn found her own path and eventually worked through her grief journey without the use of stages, expectations, or timeframes. In her book, Lynn explains her grief process as a trajectory through The Event, The Work, and The Forever memory of her children.


The Event is your initial reaction to a loss. During this part of the trajectory, it feels like grief controls the griever. You may lose your independence, experience anxiety or any of the numerous physiological and psychological effects grief can have on an individual. It can feel overwhelming, but the pain will lessen over time.


The Work is when you rebuild your life after your loss. The griever participates in an active process to work through grief, be it talking to a friend, visiting a psychologist, or simply getting back into their work routine. By doing so, you can rebuild your sense of normalcy in your life and the pain of loss will subside.


The Forever is remembering your loved ones, but not letting grief control your life. The authors realize that one can never forget the loss of a loved one, especially by tragedy. Grief can periodically resurface at moments of importance (like holidays), but the grief is no longer overwhelming or controlling.


If you are on your own grief journey, remember this trajectory and travel through the process at your own pace. Everyone experiences grief in their own way.


For more on Grief: The Event, The Work, The Forever you can check out the book on Amazon.

Or visit our Grief Resources for more information.



Look For Us At The Apple Festival!
Parthemore & Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg


The festival will be held on Saturday, September 28th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Borough Park of New Cumberland located at Front and Reno Streets.

We are thrilled to partner with Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg again for the upcoming New Cumberland Apple Festival. Look for our booth in the parking lot near the EMS tent.


Fun & Giveaways

Stop by our booth and check out all the fun things to do. We’ll also have giveaways for the kids and the young at heart.


Bicycle Parking

Skip the traffic – ride your bike to the festival! We will be providing a bicycle parking area during the festival. Be sure to bring a lock.


Donate A Bike

Want to donate a bike? Simply drop off any bike that you no longer use or want. We’ll make any necessary repairs and transform it into the gift of recreation and transportation. We will also take any helmets, bike parts, accessories or tools that you’d like to donate.

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