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Cremation rates up - Funeral homes report increased requests for alternative to burying

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 3:00 AMJason Cross

A number of funeral homes have reported increases in the numbers of cremation requests from family members.

"Really, the cremation rate has gone up. In the past couple of years, it has gone up probably anywhere from 10 per cent or so," Milton Mason, owner of Lee Mason Funeral Home, told The Gleaner on Monday.

According to Mason, the increase is as a result of various reasons, which usually tend to suit the particular needs of family members.

"It's hard to get into a family member's chain of thought on why they go towards cremation. I know cremation has increased worldwide, not only in Jamaica, because people are less religious, people have less family, people travel a lot nowadays. You have people living overseas and they can't find the ticket to come back home to complete a traditional funeral service. Sometimes it's just the simplest way they want to deal with the death," Mason said.

He highlighted that most persons usually return to claim the cremated remains of their family members or loved ones, but sometimes the remains are not claimed over extended periods of time.

"I give families 60 days, but I have had cremated remains here for two, three years. Sometimes you'll see families going through their grieving process and they don't want to deal with it at that time, but after a while, they come back around and they will come in and request the ashes."

Other establishments have reported issues with backlog of uncollected remains.

A representative of Roman's Funeral Home in Kingston, who gave his name as Mr Roman, said despite there being an increase in the number of persons who require cremation services for deceased relatives, some family members do not return to pick up the remains.

"Sometimes it takes months, that's the major issue we have, where the family members take some time to come and collect their loved ones (and) we don't have the facilities to keep them forever. Because we like to have loved ones put away with dignity, we try to contact the family to have it done expeditiously," Roman told The Gleaner.

Roman said where remains are unclaimed, Roman's Funeral Home is forced to keep them. A representative at the House of Tranquillity Funeral Home in Kingston told The Gleaner, "We don't necessarily have a problem with it (backlog of unclaimed remains). We always ensure that we make some arrangements for the disposition of the remains. Once they come in, we make sure to finalise what they're going to do with the remains".

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com