Once the decision has been made to cremate a loved one, the next question that frequently comes to mind is what to do with the cremains. This may seem like a simple matter, but at Martin Oaks Crematory and Cemetery in Lewisville, Texas (we are 12 miles south of Denton, Texas and approximately 20 miles north of Dallas, Texas — part of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas metroplex), we have seen this become an issue. It’s also led to some very creative solutions.
Obviously urns and pendants make for ideal containers that will last into the foreseeable future. But the question then arises as to which family members and friends should receive a portion of the cremains.
Pre-planning seems to be the answer to almost any question related to deathcare concerns. This is particularly true when the loved one has a chance to express their wishes. In the event of an unexpected passing, answers to these questions then become a matter of individual preferences and long term best interests.
It’s always best to remember that decisions made by those in charge at the time of the passing are many times the best decisions — as time goes by and future generations have less of a connection to the deceased, matters tend to become muddled.
A very touching use of cremains was on display at the recent 2018 Olympics held in PyeongChang, South Korea. Touching because it was not only meaningful to the friends and family of the deceased, but also touching because it made a statement to millions of fans.
Tragically, champion bobsledder Steve Holcomb died last May at the Olympic Training Village in Lake Placid, New York. At first his passing was attributed to lung congestion — but it was gradually revealed that Steve had high levels of alcohol and a sleeping sedative in his blood stream.
For those of you who don’t know his history, Steve was the bobsled driver of his generation. His accomplishments were beyond legendary: he was a three time Olympian who had both gold and bronze medals to his credit, as well 10 world championship and 60 World Club medals — it is no exaggeration to say that he was the face of the sport, at least in this country.
The legend was burnished by Steve’s struggle with a blinding illness and the work he devoted to trying to help fellow sufferers. The degenerative eye disease which afflicted him was keratoconus, a horrible condition that exacts an incredible toll.
This disease also was accompanied by a sometimes debilitating depression.
Apparently this combination of misfortunes led Steve to attempt suicide with bills and alcohol in the past — his recent death is not likely to have been another attempt, but rather a lethal accident.
At any rate, the 2018 Olympic bobsled team was without their superstar pilot — but his memory was much on the minds of those competitors, as well as the worldwide fan base he accumulated through the years.
His mother attended the games in Korea and brought with her some cremains which apparently were placed on the sled.
Most of Steve’s cremains were scattered at his home practice area in Lake Placid, but due to his mother’s thoughtfulness, Steve’s teammates were able to participate with him by their side.
Not everyone has the opportunity to make the significant gesture Steve’s mother made, but it is an example of how cremains can truly carry living memories in consequential ways. Her son died way too early at the age of 37, but thanks to his mother’s generosity and devotion, he was able to be part of a competition he loved.
RIP Steve Holcomb.