Author Archives: Welton

funeral homes in Macomb, MI

Be Respectful at Funerals

When you are attending visitations and funerals at funeral homes in Macomb, MI, there are many long-standing rituals and customs that you are expected to know and follow.

With all the ways we are able to gain knowledge in today’s world, the amount of information concerning proper behavior at visitations and funerals may seem overwhelming. In addition, the different kinds of memorial services that are available today can often add to the confusion when you want to pay your respect to someone who has died.

What you need to remember most is that losing a loved one is one of the most stressful times in their family’s life, so having guidelines to what is accepted behavior for visitations and funeral services can be helpful when you’re planning to attend.

The first guideline is that you need to understand the type of visitation and service you will be attending. The funeral home that is making the arrangements for the family will include this information in the deceased’s obituary. You will be able to see what services are being held, where they are being held, and the dates and times they are being held.

One thing that you’ll want to pay close attention to is whether all of the services are public (anyone can attend), some of them are public and some are private (people attend by invitation only), or they are all private. You need to show respect for what the grieving family wants and not, for example, go to any service that is private unless you are specifically asked by the bereaved family to attend.

Visitation and funeral service arrangements will vary (depending on the family’s wishes, the location of services, the faith of the deceased, etc.) from person to person, but the funeral home will always publish the pertinent details of the arrangements on their website and in the obituary or funeral notice.

Once you know the time, location, and type of service, then the most important rule of thumb is to practice kindness and courtesy. This means you should respect the wishes of the family, that you should observe the hours that have been set, and that you should dress appropriately.

If the family has made specific requests about attire (i.e. no black, casual, etc.), it will be noted in the deceased’s obituary.

However, there are a few other guidelines that you need to be aware of when you’re attending a funeral.

If there is a visitation before the funeral, you can pay your respect to the deceased and offer the grieving family your sympathy. Visitations are usually held at the funeral home, and the time and duration of the visitation is posted in the deceased’s obituary.

cremation services offered in Clinton Township, MI

As soon as you get the visitation, be sure to sign the guest register and speak with the bereaved family first. If this is the first time you’re meeting them, introduce yourself and tell them how you’re associated with their loved one.

Otherwise, greet them quietly and offer them your condolences. If the visitation or funeral service includes a viewing, you are free to decide whether you are comfortable viewing the deceased (no one will judge you if you’re not).

With the funeral service itself, be sure to give yourself adequate time so that you will be seated before the service begins. Bear in mind that the first few rows are typically reserved for the immediate family of the deceased. If the service is held graveside, the chairs that are set up are for the immediate family as well.

For more information about funeral etiquette at funeral homes in Macomb, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services in Sterling Heights, MI

What Does Mourning Accomplish?

Before cremations as part of the cremation services offered in Sterling Heights, MI, the mourning process for someone who has died begins. Mourning the loss of a loved one serves a purpose for the living, and the process should eventually accomplish four very important tasks.

Mourning does not have a finite time limit. Everyone mourns for whatever time it takes them to complete the process. There is no right or wrong way to mourn. Just because your mourning doesn’t look like someone else’s mourning (or theirs doesn’t look like yours) doesn’t mean either of you are doing something wrong.

The five stages of grief made famous by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross don’t always happen in a specific order and they don’t always happen the same way to each person.

Mourning is a unique process for each individual, but the tasks that need to be accomplished by mourning the death of a loved one are the same.

The first task of mourning is the acceptance of the reality of the loss when a loved one has died. This acceptance doesn’t mean that all the realities that accompany death are understood or accepted, but it does mean that those who are mourning have recognized that they’ve experienced a permanent loss in this life.

The next task of mourning is to work through the pain of grief. How people do accomplish this task and how long it takes them to accomplish it is different from person to person.

No one enjoys having to deal with emotional pain, but for some people it is so difficult that they either ignore the pain, they suppress the pain, or they numb the pain. None of these approaches to emotional pain is healthy.

Ignoring emotional pain doesn’t make it go away. Suppressing emotional pain doesn’t lessen its effect. And numbing emotional pain is not only emotionally unhealthy, but can also be physically unhealthy as well.

Eventually, the pain of grief surfaces and it has to be addressed and dealt with, because it can’t be ignored, suppressed, or numbed forever.

It’s important to recognize that working through the pain of grief takes some people much longer than it does others. So just because somebody else is working through the pain of grief more slowly than others doesn’t mean they are not working through it. Be careful not to tell somebody that they need to move on and get over it, because you really don’t know how they’re working through this task.

The third task of mourning is adapted to a new environment where a loved one is absent. This can be extremely difficult, especially for spouses of and for children who were primary caregivers for the deceased loved one.

This new environment includes a permanent void that no one and nothing can fill. It’s an environment that also has practical barriers that may include finances, property, and companionship, among other things.

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Most grief experts strongly recommend that any big decisions (especially regarding finances and property), be put on hold for at least a year after a loved one has died. This isn’t a promise that everything will be fine in a year, but there will be more objective clarity in decision-making.

The last task of mourning is to find an enduring connection with the deceased loved one while beginning a new life without them. This connection may include adding rituals that honor their loved one, such as laying flowers at their grave each year on their birthday and being comfortable regularly thinking about and sharing memories of them.

For information about cremation services in Sterling Heights, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.

funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI

How to Explain Funerals to Children

Before funerals at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, children who are old enough to comprehend – children under five years of age are probably too young – the death and loss of a loved one should know what has happened, know what is going to happen, and be included in the entire process that accompanies the death of someone we love.

While children don’t have the emotional maturity or the complexity of emotions that adults may experience when someone they love has died, it’s important to know that children can still grieve the loss more intensely than you might expect, especially if they were very close to the person who has died.

First, you should explain to your children that death is part of life and that the grief that comes with death is normal. You should also explain to your children that grief varies from person to person, even within the same immediate family, so they know to expect that grief will have different faces. By explaining how grief works, you can help your children know that how they grieve and express that grief is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

Next, you should explain the funeral process to your children. Be sure to be specific. Let them know what to expect at the visitation. It can be very shocking – and perhaps even scary – for children to see someone they love lying in a casket, motionless, with their eyes closed, and their hands folded over each other, and almost looking like the person did when they were alive. It can also be surprising for children to touch their loved one’s body and discover that it is very cold.

You should explain visitation protocol to your children. Explain to them that they’ll be up front in the funeral home beside you and the rest of the family and people will come by and express their condolences. You need to make sure that you also prepare your children for the kinds of grief they might see, because they will likely see a range of emotions they have not experienced before.

Then, you should explain the funeral service to your children. Often, older children in the immediate family of the loved one who died may be asked to do readings as part of the funeral service.

grief supportGo through the order of the funeral service with your children so they know what to expect and so that they understand the purpose of each part of the service, both as a matter of tribute to your deceased love one, and as a source of comfort for everyone who is mourning their loss.

Finally, you should explain the graveside service to your children. Tell them what its purpose is and how it’s different from the funeral service. Let them know that the casket will be sitting above the cemetery plot where your loved one will be buried, because they’ll see the dirt that has been dug out around it.

The first few days between the death of a loved one and their burial are often so busy that they’re a blur and the reality of them being permanently gone doesn’t fully sink in. However, once the funeral process is over, the real grieving often begins. Discuss the grief process openly with your children and encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling with you. Watch for signs of withdrawal and depression and consider grief counseling if these become protracted.

For more information about grief resources at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services offered in Clinton Township, MI

Letting Go or Holding On with Terminal Illnesses

Before cremations as part of the cremation services offered in Clinton Township, MI, advanced age or terminal illnesses are often what ends up causing a loved one to die. Our society puts a premium value on living and it suggests that we do everything in our power to avoid and delay – even though it eventually comes – death.

Dylan Thomas’ famous poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, is a good example of this mindset. In the poem, the narrator urges his aging father to “rage against the dying of the light.” However, this mindset can ultimately end in a life that may have quantity, but that has little or no quality. It can also lead to unnecessary pain and suffering for the person who is dying.

We seem to have an instinctive desire to continue to live. We experience this desire as wanting to eat, to do things, to learn, to grow, and to look forward to the future. We have very strong emotional attachments to other living things, including our families, friends, and pets, and we don’t want to leave them. While we aren’t able to decide to continue to live, our actions can make living automatic.

When age and terminal illnesses reach an advanced stage, our thoughts are not of ourselves, but of others. We want to be with our loved ones and we may even feel a responsibility to not fail them or cause them pain and grief by dying and leaving them.

We may have unfinished business in the form of making amends or reconciling relationships. We may fear losing control of our lives, being dependent on others, what will happen as we die, and what will happen after we die.

All of these things may bother us so much that we find them difficult to think about. It is not uncommon for feelings or resentment, guilt, sadness, and anger, when the time comes that we have to face them, to arise with both the person who is terminally ill and their caregiver(s) because nobody wants to end up this way or see anybody else end up this way.

Even as death approaches, however, usually a sense of hope remains. But what that hope looks like changes as death nears. While it once may have been hope for the illness to be cured or for a little more time, hope is now transformed into present and immediate terms: a good night, one more visit with friends or loved ones, or, perhaps, an easy death.

Eventually, in the days and weeks before death, many people don’t have a desire to live anymore. They are not suicidal nor are they depressed. Instead, they have an innate sense that it’s time to let go.

This may manifest itself as a profound tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest. Often people reach a point where they’ve hit the limit of how much effort they can put into prolonging life. While refusing to let go may prolong life a little, death is still inevitable. Prolonging death may translate into a time when more suffering than living actually happens.

cremation service

Some family members and friends also reach a point where they understand that letting go is best for them and their loved one. They’ve seen their loved one fight, struggle, and suffer, and they don’t want them to experience any more of that. Other family members and friends, however, may not be able to accept that dying is the next best step for their loved one and they may refuse to believe that is what’s happening.

Letting go does not mean our loved one wants to die. Instead, it is an expression of their acceptance that death is the next step in their journey.

For information about cremation services in Clinton Township, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.

funeral homes in Clinton Township, MI

Not Expressing Grief is Unhealthy

Because, in the midst of COVID-19, funerals at funeral homes in Clinton Township, MI are anything but traditional, being limited to 10 or less people, which makes them more private and offers less in-person comfort and support, you may discover that you’re having difficulty expressing grief for the loss of your loved one.

In some cases, it is normal to temporarily suppress grief after the death of a loved one. There are many things that need to be done when someone dies, and that means pulling your emotional act together enough to get them taken care of in a timely manner.

You may also temporarily suppress your grief because it’s too overwhelming in the moment and you need a brief respite from its effects.

Both of these types of grief suppression are normal and healthy ways to handle intense grief because they involve recognition that you need to take care of yourself at that moment in time.

However, making a habit of not expressing grief each time it surfaces is unhealthy, and can result in health problems, emotional problems, and mental problems like depression and anxiety.

When grief is suppressed instead of experienced, no matter how painful that may be, it becomes incomplete grief. There are several signs of incomplete grief.

One sign is irritability or anger that gets worse with time and can erupt into an explosion or violence. When you habitually don’t express grief, things build up inside with no outlet or expression.

Your body, mind, and soul has limits to how long you can do this until it becomes too big and too much to handle or keep suppressed. Usually the trigger that lets it all out is insignificant, and often observers will wonder why the reaction is so extreme in comparison to the trigger.

Another sign of incomplete grief is long-term obsession with missing your loved one.

It is normal in the first few weeks or months to think a lot about the death of your loved one and for their loss to hurt deeply. Your will find yourself repeatedly reviewing your relationship with and death of your loved one in great detail during these first weeks and months as your process your loss.

However, if you get stuck in a repetitive reviewing loop, you will not be able to move forward in the grief process, and you may find yourself shutting down when you hit certain points in the review where you feel guilt or regrets and it’s too late to fix them.

Hyperalertness and fear of loss is also a sign of incomplete grief. They are characterized by continuous anxiety and the pervasive feeling that nothing’s safe, everything’s fragile, and everyone is vulnerable. As a result, you become hypersensitive to everything and develop an obsessive need to always be prepared for the worst possible outcome.

Apathy, numbness, and low-grade depression are additional signs of incomplete grief. Apathy becomes apparent when you no longer take pleasure in or enjoy doing things that you once enjoyed. In fact, you may feel as though you really don’t care about anything anymore.

Numbness is a blunted emotional reaction that makes it hard to imagine feeling anything at all, no matter whether it’s happy or sad.

grief support

Low-grade depression is characterized by a lack of energy, a sense of hopelessness, and dark thoughts that you find persist over an extended period of time.

Utilizing grief resources such as counseling and therapy are an excellent way to resolve incomplete grief.

For more information about grief resources at funeral homes in Clinton Township, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services offered in Macomb, MI

Death Anniversaries

Grief resources are among the cremation services offered in Macomb, MI. After a loved one dies, you and other family members will start process of grieving and healing as you adapt to the a new normal – and a different life – without your loved one.

While you and your family will make great strides toward adjusting, adapting, and moving forward after your loved one’s death, death anniversaries will, especially in the early years, be very hard to face and deal with.

You may be surprised at how strongly all the feelings and emotions that you experienced when your loved one died may reemerge when your loved one’s death anniversary comes around. These may be an unexpected onslaught that you and your family don’t know how to handle.

It’s important, however, to understand that this is normal. Your loved one’s death was a traumatic event and a devastating loss. Their absence created a void in your lives that can’t be replaced or filled, even though time will soften its blow.

But you and your family may find that there are some constructive ways to channel those overwhelming emotions and feelings that can also bring you peace and comfort.

One thing you can do is to compose a letter to your deceased loved one. This can be very comforting, because you can pour out your heart about how you feel.

Remind your loved one how much you miss them. Tell your loved one all the things that you miss about them. Remind your loved one of all the special memories you shared together. Share with your loved one the funny stories that you laughed at over and over during your relationship.

Tell your loved one how much you love them. Detail all the things about your loved one that made you love them so much.

Let your loved one know how different things are without them. Bring your loved one up to date on all the things they’ve missed since they’ve been gone. Update them on your life and your family’s lives.

Let your loved one know about the challenges and struggles you all have had and tell them about the successes and failures that have happened since they’ve been gone. You may be surprised at how therapeutic this letter-writing is and you may decide to start a daily journal that you write to your loved one.

Another constructive way to handle death anniversaries is to do something to honor your loved one. Do something that supports something your loved one was passionate about. That may be volunteering for a non-profit organization, planting a flower or vegetable garden, joining a book club, or attending the games of a local sports team.

Another constructive way to cope with death anniversaries is to host a potluck dinner of immediate family and a few close friends. Have everyone bring a food and drinks and, as you eat, share stories and memories of your loved one.

It’s important for you and your family to be kind and gentle with yourselves on the death anniversaries of your loved one. It’s likely everyone will experience these anniversaries in different ways, and it’s important to recognize that and give everyone latitude and space for their own way.

death of a loved one

Remember, as well, to look at all that you and your family have weathered, have overcome, and have accomplished since the death of your loved one. They would have wanted that, and they would be proud of you.

For more information about grief resources and other cremation services in Macomb, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.

funeral homes in Macomb, MI

Preplanning a Funeral

Preplanning funerals at funeral homes in Macomb, MI is not something most people want to think or talk about or even do. Facing mortality is hard, but we’re all going to die at some point.

Planning your funeral before you die takes a lot of additional stress off your loved ones as they are already coping with the emotional stress of a loss, an absence, and a void that will never be filled again. There can be as many as 125 things that must be done between the time that someone dies and the time of their final disposition.

Your family won’t have a lot of time to make funeral arrangements, and it will be much harder for them if they don’t know what kind of funeral service wanted. They’ll have to answer a lot of questions when they meet with the funeral director after you die.

Did you want cremation or burial? Did you want a visitation and funeral service, no visitation and funeral service, or no visitation and no funeral service? Are you a military veteran? Did you want a military honors funeral with burial in a national cemetery?

If they think you may have wanted a service, would you have wanted a funeral service or a memorial service? Who would you want to oversee the service? What would you want read or said and by whom? What music would you want to have played?

These are just a few of the kinds of questions that your family must answer so they can make arrangements for your cremation or burial if you don’t preplan your funeral. This is why preplanning your funeral takes such a tremendous burden off the loved ones you leave behind.

While preplanning your funeral doesn’t necessarily mean prepaying for your funeral, it can mean that you have purchased burial insurance so that your final expenses are covered. This insurance policy will be used by the funeral home to cover funeral costs, so that your family doesn’t have to worry about financial obligations. If you have a life insurance policy, a portion of it can be used to pay your funeral costs as well.

When preplanning your funeral, sit down with your closest family members and talk about what you want in detail. Be sure to have a written copy of these detailed instructions that you keep with your important papers, whether that’s in a home safe or a bank safety deposit box.

Make sure that your spouse or the executor of your will (or even your attorney) knows where your important papers are and that they have access to them.

Decide whether you want to be cremated or buried. If you want to be cremated, decide whether you want a funeral service before cremation or a memorial service after cremation. For burials, if you’re a military veteran, you are entitled to certain VA funeral benefits, including burial in a national cemetery. Otherwise, you’ll need to pick a burial location.

funeral home

If you want a funeral service, decide who should oversee it. Decide what format you want for the service. If there are certain readings you want, list them. If you want eulogies given, designate who should give them. Decide what songs you want included in the service.

If you choose burial, decide if you want a graveside service. Choose the type of gravestone or maker that you would like to have (spouses often get double gravestones and buy two cemetery plots together, so they’re buried together – the engraver will update the gravestone when the remaining spouse dies) and what you want to include on it.

For more information about preplanning funerals at funeral homes in Macomb, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services in Sterling Heights, MI

When Discomfort is Grief

Cremations are among the cremation services offered in Sterling Heights, MI. We have been and are surrounded by the specter of pain, death, and suffering 24 hours a day as this novel coronavirus pandemic rages on throughout the world. We heard the number of new cases, the number of total cases, the number of new deaths, and the number of total deaths.

We are besieged from all sides with disparate numbers about the total projected death toll, not only around the world, but in our own country. We are dealing with death up close and personal every day. Because so little is known about COVID-19, everything we hear is just a stab in the dark, without real science and time behind it to know whether it will play out the way our experts think it might.

Everything is unknown except people are getting sick and are dying. We may get sick and die. We may have already been infected and don’t even know it. If we go out, we have to wear face masks. If we go to pick up essentials at the grocery store or the pharmacy, we have to follow a pattern through the store, stand on marked lines at checkout, and talk to the cashier through a piece of protective plexiglass.

We don’t know if we’re next. We don’t know if a family member is next. We watch families grieving over their loved ones and we share their pain and suffering. We grieve with them.

But there are other sources of discomfort besides the pain and suffering we can’t get away from, the medical unknowns, and the worries for our own health and the health of our families.

Discomfort comes from social distancing from our loved ones. We may have parents who are older and more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 because of underlying health issues. We can’t visit in person with them, or hug them, or hold them.

We may have parents or other family members who are in assisted living facilities or nursing facilities that have been locked down to outside visitors. Maybe we can get lucky enough to see them through a window, but, then again, we may not.

We may have family members who have contracted COVID-19 and they are critically ill. We aren’t allowed to be with them in the hospital and, if they succumb to the virus, we will not be able to be with them when they die.

As if all of this is not discomfort enough, we have other things that are causing discomfort. Our work routines have been disrupted. If we’re among the fortunate, we may be working from home for the first time in our careers, which is a major adjustment, especially in companies where team environments are valued and utilized.

However, like many other Americans, though, we may have been furloughed (even in the healthcare industry) or laid off. If we worked in the hospitality or airline industries, we don’t know whether those jobs will ever come back, and we don’t know what we’ll do to survive and take care of our families.

Even in industries where jobs will exist in the future, there may not be as many of them as technology replaces people at a seeming (people are truly any company’s most valuable resource because of their knowledge and experience) fraction of the cost.

cremations services

All of this discomfort is actually grief over so many losses. And if you have had a loved one die since the beginning of 2020 or you have a love one die now or in the remainder of the year, it will be a big layer of grief added to existing layers of grief. It may seem overwhelming.

Seek professional help if it is. You are not alone.

For more information about cremation services in Sterling Heights, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.

funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI

Funeral Homes and Millennials

When dealing with Millennials at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, funeral directors will undoubtedly have to be prepared to make adjustments for and adapt to them. Millennials (born between 1983 and 2000) are a generation that perplexes every other generation before and after them.

Produced by overprotective parents and an educational/social system that lavished praise on them for just existing and made sure that the road was smooth, with no failures and no bumps, every step of the way, Millennials can be challenging to deal with in just about every area of life.

Funeral homes are now dealing with that challenge. To meet that challenge, funeral home directors need to know what makes Millennials tick.

Millennials have grown up in a world surrounded by technology. Before they were teething, they were playing computer and video games. Technology is at the core of how they defined themselves.

Because of technology being a part of their lives from the beginning, Millennials are going to demand that funeral homes have the technology to handle modern funerals. This means having the ability to livestream funerals, the ability to handle social media, advanced image manipulation, and to make it all smartphone or tablet-friendly.

Funeral homes need to be prepared for Millennials to tell them how to use technology and how Millennials can do it faster, better, and more efficiently. Millennials see most things – and traditions – as being outdated and old school, and they will not be afraid to tell you that.

It may come across as offensive, but funeral homes need to wade through what is actually offensive (Millennials, in general, tend to treat anyone older than they are with disdain, and as ignorant relics who couldn’t possibly know anything) to listen for what is relevant.

There are many ways that technology can benefit funeral homes and enable them to provide even more services to bereaved families who are planning the funerals of their loved ones. Incorporating these can mean that families can share their loved ones’ services with people throughout the world and they can create a virtual experience to remember.

Some Millennials are more environmentally conscience and they will want final disposition options that embrace that. They are more likely to opt for green burials and non-fossil fuel cremations.

While traditional burials usually include embalming, caskets, and casket vaults, green burials are designed to let the body decompose naturally, reducing the environment impact on the Earth. Millennials who favor green burials may want biodegradable burial containers and burial in “green” cemeteries.

Instead of traditional cremations, which uses heat to cremate the body, Millennials may choose an alternate form of cremation like alkaline hydrolysis (also known as water cremation). Although alkaline hydrolysis is a process that has been patented since 1888, it has not emerged as a preferred choice for final disposition until the last decade or so.

online researchWith alkaline hydrolysis, the deceased’s body is decomposed using a mixture of water (95%) and sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (5%). While the time to break down the body takes longer, the carbon footprint of the process is about 1/10 of that of regular cremation, which makes it attractive to some Millennials.

Millennials will also want more personalization with their funerals. This generation is used to be able to customize everything because their lives have been customized from the beginning. Funeral homes will need to be able to meet their customization demands – which may often change on a dime – to give them the funerals they desire.

For more information about Millennial expectations at funeral homes in Sterling Heights, MI, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.

cremation services in Macomb, MI

A Brief Tour of Cremation Services History

A brief tour of the history of cremation services, which are offered in Macomb, MI, will reveal some interesting facts about this form of final disposition. You may believe that when you choose to be cremated or to have your loved one cremated that you are doing something that is untraditional.

However, the practice of cremation is almost as early as the history of humans. The reason that Americans think of cremation as untraditional is because until about 50 years ago, the primary form of final disposition in this country was burial underground.

But in the earliest history of humans, cremation was more common than underground burial. The reasons are many.

First, in ancient civilizations, there was little knowledge about how to preserve bodies after death. Decay set in quickly and it was imperative to dispose of human remains quickly. Cremation made sense. The cremation remains were often buried on family land.

Generally, burial was cultural. For instance, in many of the Middle Eastern cultures, burial in tombs with a stone covering the tomb was quite common. The stone was used to prevent passersby from having to endure the stench as the body naturally deteriorated.

In Egypt, burials for elite members of society – rulers and other nobility – were done in pyramids. Ancient Egyptians developed a way to embalm the deceased to preserve the body for quite some time. When the elite were buried in their pyramids, they were surrounded by all the things – including food and drink – that the Egyptians believed they would need for their journey to the next life.

Ancient European cultures, on the other hand, preferred cremation. When soldiers, politicians, and war heroes died, their cremations were done on a funeral pyre (think of a huge bonfire) and their lives and deeds were celebrated by mourners who ate and drank and engaged in other activities around the funeral pyre for several days.

However, as the world shifted toward embracing Christianity about 300 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, almost all of those cultures moved away from cremation and back to burials. The reason was not because the Bible prohibited cremation (an erroneous narrative that permeated Christianity and was propagated throughout most of the history of Christianity), but because cremation was associated with pagan cultures. Burial was a way to distinguish between being a pagan and being a Christian.

By the time the New World was discovered, burial was the primary means of final disposition among the earliest colonists, most of whom were either Catholic or Protestant. Roman Catholicism was the religion that prohibited any cremations for the longest period of time, with relaxation coming only in the 21st century.

During Christianity, however, there were some times when cremation was widely used to dispose of the dead. Most notably, these periods were in the middle of worldwide pandemics such as bubonic plague, where transmission was rapid and death almost as rapid. In an effort to halt the spread of these virulent diseases, the dead were either cremated or buried underground at depths deep enough to ensure that the infection would not spread to the living.

It was not until the late 1800’s that scientific proof that, at that time, cremation was a more sanitary way of disposing of the dead than burying them. Still, the idea and practice of cremation was widely shunned by religions and the public.

The modern popularity of cremations is a result of practicality. Cemeteries and graveyards are running out of room for underground burials. Population mobility makes it very unlikely that most people will die where – or even close to – where they were born and lived growing up.

With the ease of transporting cremation remains and the many ways to use cremation remains, including burial in a columbarium or an urn garden, cremation has become a logical choice for many Americans.

For more information about cremation services in Macomb, MI, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home is here to assist you.