Table of contents:
- What is death care
- History of end of life care
- Introduction of cremation
- Modern death care
- Trend: cremation diamonds
Last revised: November 5, 2018
Death Care Industry 101: Transition from Barbaric to Beautiful
Have you ever thought about what happens to your body after you die? As uncomfortable as this topic this may be, the reality is that every one of us will die one day and our bodies will be left behind. Exactly how are deceased bodies taken care of? How did cremation and death care emerge in the United States?
Let’s take a deeper look at the origins of the death care industry and the way it evolved into the modern crematories and funeral homes we know today. We will also explore current rituals and traditions associated with after life care, including the popular trend of turning cremated ashes into diamonds.
What is Death Care?
Companies and organizations that provide services related to death fall under the death care industry category. Funeral homes and crematories play significant roles and are a crucial part of end-of-life care.
Cremation insurance providers are another aspect of the death care industry.
At Heart In Diamond, we’re proud to be part of after life care, providing comfort to loved ones who are dealing with the painful sting of death. We create memorial diamonds that are processed from the loved one’s cremains (ashes of the deceased), which are the result of the cremation process.
The cremation business joins us in playing a significant role when creating these stunning funeral diamonds, through the process typically known as ashes to diamonds.
History of End of Life Care
Historically, the embalming process resulted in after life care changing from something routinely performed by women, to the beginnings of what we now know as the death care industry.
It was during the Civil War when hundreds of men died away from their homes, that the process of embalming and preserving a body became necessary. This was done in order to transport the body home for a funeral service and burial. The embalming process increased in popularity following the funeral procession of the embalmed corpse of Abraham Lincoln.
As documented in the Journal of Medicine and Science, the very early techniques used during end-of-life care were quite primitive. This case was especially true concerning arsenic which was used to preserve corpses, but was leaching into groundwater and soil near cemeteries. In response to these contamination situations, the first mortuary schools were established alongside the National Funeral Directors Association in 1989, as a means to monitor and establish protocol for carrying out end-of-life care.
The Introduction of Cremation in the United States
Technically, cremation started in the United States before the 1800’s, where two cases of cremation were recorded. The real trend, however, picked up in 1876 when the first crematory was built in Washington, Pennsylvania, by Dr. Julius LeMoyne according to the Cremation Association of North America.
Less than 10 years later, another crematory, considered the second built in the United States, opened in 1884. A cremation society was established and operated this crematory which was located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Factors that contributed to the opening of further crematories included the push by Protestant clergy for reformation of burial practices, and a growing concern from the medical community about sanitary conditions of burial processes and cemeteries.
Crematories started popping up all over the country in places like Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. By the time 1900 rolled around, 20 crematories were in operation. By 1913, when Dr. Hugo Erichsen founded the Cremation Association of America nationwide, 52 crematories were in existence and that year saw a record of over 10,000 cremations.
Cremation Practices Evolve Into Modern Death Care
The Association changed its name in 1975 to the Cremation Association of North America in order to reflect the inclusion of Canada with the United States. The practice of cremation has gained steam rapidly since then.
In 1999, approximately 25.49 percent of all deaths were cremations, with 595,617 taking place annually in 1,468 crematories. In 2009, there were 2,100 crematories that performed over 900,000 cremations annually, accounting for 36.84 of all deaths in the United States. Experts predict that number will grow to be more than half of all deaths by 2018.
While the early days of death care involved questionable practices in both sanitation and humanitarian concerns, modern day cremation practices are strictly controlled, and held to the highest standards in the industry as regulated and set forth by the Cremation Association of North America.
Traditionally, cremated remains were stored in urns which were kept in a columbarium, a building that has niches in the wall to hold them, according to Death Reference.
Modern day death care practices in the West began to emerge in the late-twentieth-century and included the removal of the cremated remains from the crematoria.
Many people spread the ashes in a specific location such as mountains, rivers, gardens or another place that was special to the deceased. They might keep the ashes in the urn and display it at their home. Others have the ashes transformed into a memorial keepsake, such as a remembrance diamond.
A Treasured Keepsake that Carries a Loved One’s Spirit, Eternally
Grief is a natural human response to the loss of a friend or family member, and each person deals with these heavy emotions differently. For many, the rituals associated with the funeral, cremation or burial of a loved one allow them to work through the initial shock of grief. Once the ceremonies associated with death are over, however, reality can hit hard and those missing the deceased are still left to deal with their grief and adjust to their loss.
Cremation diamonds change people’s lives by providing them with comfort and a way to remember their loved one forever. After the funeral or cremation is over, these synthetic diamonds will always be there, a part of the person’s actual body that lives on.
Several Types of Cremation Diamonds Create a Unique Experience
There are many types of cremation diamonds, all offering a unique way to celebrate the life of a friend, family member or pet. One popular method of creating a truly customized piece of jewelry, that brings together the union of the surviving family members with the departed, is to mix hair or cremated remains of the one who passed with hair from living family members.
The ashes and hair are combined and heated to extreme temperatures that extract the carbon, which is then used to synthetically grow a laboratory diamond. This diamond then serves as an ongoing tribute to the person who has passed and an ongoing way for those left behind to keep their loved one close.