“We Have Been Part Of Some Amazing Celebration of Life Ceremonies.” Hannah, Funeral Director

Hello! My name is Hannah Beckett.

I am a funeral director at Essentials Cremation and Burial Services in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. I live in a very small rural part of the Niagara Region and my greatest passion is to serve the community that I have grown up in. It is truly what I enjoy dedicating my time to.

I am also a long-time member of Girl Guides of Canada and I try to have my girls recognize and realize that the positive changes for the future can start with them, such as their environmental impact for example. We join local initiatives, and while small, I try to teach them that they do make a small indent on common environmental issues such as pollution and regularly discuss the different kinds of pollution that exist which affect the world around us.

A meaningful, personalized service

I am very proud to be part of Essentials Cremation and Burial Services because our entire team is dedicated to providing a meaningful, personalized service to any family we have the honour of serving. I love the values of the company. It was started by Krystal Riddell a little over 4 years ago and was built on the foundation of providing affordable and integral prices for cremation, burial and more importantly, green burial options. We are dedicated to providing all methods of disposition to our families and are always interested in learning and offering new products, services and knowledge to our community.

With the uprise in cremation in North America, it’s estimated that in Canada in 2020, 73% of all deaths that occurred, cremation was chosen as the disposition. Our facility, while mostly cremation, can also provide all other services like any other fully licensed funeral home could. We are different from other community funeral homes in the way that we are based out of a store-front plaza. This allows us to lower prices for our families because we don’t have the same expenses that a large stand-alone funeral home would commonly have. We pride ourselves on offering affordable options not only for services, but also in terms of urns, caskets, and green burial approved items.

Along with our business motto, we try our best to be involved in our community through extracurriculars as well. Krystal Riddell, the owner, is a member of our local Rotary group, a volunteer for an organization called “Start Me Up Niagara – Out of the Cold Program” which is dedicated to aiding the homeless in our community. She is also a board member of the Green Burial Society as well as an important supporter of various other charities such as Hospice Niagara and Toolbox Niagara. Along with involvement with these organizations, her and our team frequently are involved in community events such as attending International Women’s Day events, Volunteerism award ceremonies, and multiple other important charity benefit events.

What led me to the funeral industry

I stumbled across the funeral industry by accident in my high school years, but always had the mindset of finding a career where I would be able to help people in one capacity or another. I had a feeling I would end up in the Health Sciences, but hadn’t exactly pinpointed what that meant. I, like most other teenagers with a TV, was inspired by shows like CSI or Criminal Minds where they built relationships with families, comforted them, and also were able to spend time in a lab uncovering new information and solving problems. With the amount of schooling needed for Forensics or Crime Scene Investigating, I was looking for another option.

We luckily had a friend of my family that worked as a Funeral Director and he was kind enough to take me under his wing and introduce me to this fantastic industry I am a part of now. After graduating in Humber College in Toronto with my funeral directing license, the rest has been history!

I love learning about a loved one that has passed away from their family members and loved ones. It’s simple to get caught up in our own life, it’s easy to forget that these people that have died are the centre of someone’s world and have touched numerous people in their lifetime.

There is no better way to honour someone’s life than to share their story with others.

The rise of the “Celebration of Life” ceremonies

I am finding that most people in Canada, more specifically our Region are not only turning to cremation, but also wishing for more simple and more meaningful services. For example, instead of multiple visitations and a more “traditional” service with a clergy or celebrant, I am finding families will instead book a local venue or host something themselves to host a “Celebration of Life”.

We have been able to be a part of some amazing and personalized Celebration of Life ceremonies. For example, we once attended a Lūʻau themed celebration. In other cases, as you walk in, the walls are completely covered in photos, items, art, writing and much more that reflect the life of the loved one who has passed.

Something that has always stayed with me was since I was in college is when one of my professors mentioned to me that any random stranger should be able to walk into a Celebration of Life and leave feeling they know about that person, and it’s something we all at Essentials try to emulate

If you are considering having a Celebration of Life for a loved-one, my advice would be to first start thinking of music you would like to play in the background. Next, have a think about which hobbies you would like to showcase which most represent that person. Also, what items were important to them or that family members and friends shared with them. You could display those. Seemingly simple things like this can really give a Celebration of Life a meaningful and important personalized option.

Green burial options

In terms of green burial, we try to have knowledge of all green burial options available so that our families can make informed decisions. The Niagara Region currently has two cemeteries with green burial plots available, one of which is only about 5 minutes down the road from us! We also offer biodegradable urns and urns suitable for water burial, along with the Bios Urn ® that allows for a tree to grow from the remains of a loved-one.

We do also have a few cemeteries that offer “scattering gardens” which is a dedicated section for families to scatter their loved one’s cremated remains without typically needing to purchase a plot. This method of disposition still allows for a place for loved ones to come back and remember their loved ones, but is more inexpensive than burying cremated remains.

We started to carry Bios Urns ® when people began to ask about them. With the Facebook videos that went viral, more and more people started to question what they were and how they worked. We are thankfully not too far from the first Bios Park ® that opened in Quebec.

I think there are still a lot of unknowns about where someone would be able to plant a Bios Urn ® legally but for now, most of our families that have purchased them from us have kept them at home or planted them on their property.

What I think the future holds

We chose to publish our price list and packages online to provide transparency to our community, but also to show that we are dedicated to offering fair and affordable prices.

Aquamation/Alkaline Hydrolysis “Water Cremation” is certainly something we plan on offering our families in the future and I have found that we have had a few people ask about it. People often ask us about new trends after hearing or reading about it in the news or in a magazine. I also believe starting conversations like that is important because they will then pass that information on to their friends and it will spread and get to more people that might be interested in the process. That’s what happened with Celebration of Life ceremonies.

We have a green burial sign in our arrangement room as well as a section on our website and I do find it catches peoples attention. When they ask, we are able to give them information and most people I think appreciate knowing it’s an option even if it may not be for them. While I don’t think green burial at the moment is something that most people are wanting, I have no doubt the request for green burial or more eco-friendly “green” funeral options will increase every year as it becomes more public and talked about.

Bios Urn Testimonial: Hannah is a funeral director "e have been a part of so many wonderful Celebration of Life ceremonies"

“We have a green burial sign in our arrangement room as well as a section on our website and I do find it catches peoples attention”. Green burial options can be incorporated into a Celebration of Life. Source: Essentials Cremation and Burial Services

As for my own death

For myself at this point in time, I am young and have no husband or children currently. With being a part of this industry for a few years now and hopefully for many years to come, I believe it’s important to have discussions with my future family about my wishes at death. I don’t have any particular preference besides the fact that whatever they need; if it means having my ashes present for a Celebration of Life and purchasing an eco-friendly urn to have me changed into their favourite flower, I say go for it. As the famous quote says “Funerals are for the living, not the dead”.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my story and what led me to work in the funeral industry. Hopefully it will inspire more young people to actively choose this as their preferred career option. I love working in our funeral home where we are dedicated to providing affordable and caring services, as well as offering all opportunities for disposition to our families so that they have the freedom of choice. And that is why it is fundamental for us to also offer more ecological choices that are less harmful to the environment and help prepare for our future generations.

We will continue our efforts to volunteer and take initiative to positively impact our area and it’s environment. And we are proud to carry Bios Urn ® as an option and we are proud to be a member of our community when people need us.

Many thanks to Hannah from Essentials Cremation and Burial Services for sharing with us her story and how she came to work in the funerary industry. We are always very interested in hearing the different stories of those who are part of the funeral industry and who are committed to changing the status quo and offering families greener burial options. We wish them all the best for the future!

Did you find reading about Hannah´s work and the rise of trends such as a Celebration of Live and green burial options?

We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below!

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