Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory has been in business since the mid-1980’s. During that time, we have cremated and/or buried thousands in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Because of the long-term nature of the Oaks, we have experienced all manner of issues surrounding death — we thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts we have based on our experiences.
So, here are a variety of topics and our take on them:
It’s no secret that denial of death is one of the prevailing cultural touchstones in our society — in spite of the fact that we all know someday the end is coming.
This reminds of us of an anecdote that you may have heard: Samuel Goldwyn, movie producer par excellence, was noted for hiring the best writing talent available for scripts. This included the very famous, extremely witty, and prodigiously gifted author, Dorothy Parker.
One day, Goldwyn commented to Parker that he loved her scripts, but she almost never wrote a happy ending.
Parker replied: “Mr. Goldwyn, since earth was created, billions of people have lived here. Not one of them has ever had a happy ending.”
While this story is humorous, there is a bitter truth at the center of it. We may experience a quiet death, a passing that is perhaps better for all concerned, but few of us think that any final disposition is a happy occasion.
Denial is a defense mechanism that defined simply is an unwillingness to accept reality. Psychologists teach us that defense mechanisms are a normal part of everyone’s personality, designed to help us cope with life.
While denial is usually a passing reaction, it is viewed as not being very adaptive. In fact, it is reflective of the most primitive, childlike features of ones make-up.
Unlike some other defense mechanisms which help us channel our sorrow, anger or confusion into a coping activity, denial is simply a weak foundation destined to crumble.
From our viewpoint, loved ones who are in denial eventually find a route to acceptance, even if it is a difficult acceptance.
Permanent denial of reality often requires professional help.
As a side note, Dorothy Parker’s own story had a particularly unhappy ending. Due to a variety of conditions, including a fondness for alcohol, she died at the age of 73 and was cremated. Her ashes were left unclaimed for more than 17 years.
We have written at great length about grief in this space. Suffice to say that it is an individual process, one which has an unpredictable duration.
Again, grief is an emotion which requires professional attention if it renders one non-functional.
On a personal note, we lost an employee ten years ago this spring. He died in a car crash, just short of his 21st birthday, the crash was survived by two others. A state trooper noted that it was probably an accident that should have claimed no lives.
We think of this outstanding young person frequently, especially at this time of year.
Grief, well-tempered by time, is a long lasting state that everyone deals with differently.
- DECIDING BETWEEN CREMATION AND TRADITIONAL SERVICES
No doubt about it, cremation is becoming the preferred method of final disposition these days.
The growth in this area is based on many notions we have covered here before — convenience, price, relative ease, all the factors that many of you know.
The positive aspect of cremation is that it easily blends in with more traditional services – before or after the cremation, all manner of procedures (funeral mass, memorial gatherings, and the like) can be arranged.
So it doesn’t have to be an either or circumstance: families can get exactly what they want by combining elements of a number of different options.
In the future, we will continue with this series. If you have any comments, please do not hesitate to pass them along to Martin Oaks.