Monthly Archives: April 2019

cremations in College Park, MD

Morticians: A History

Although a mortician’s services won’t be used in cremations in College Park, MD, they are an integral part of funeral homes and the services they provide. The fact is that some professions – and that of morticians is one – have serious PR problems when it comes to describing the work they do, especially when people don’t like to think about the nuts and bolts of the job.

Janitors are custodial technicians, garbage collectors have become waste management engineers and bartenders are mixologists. These names add glamour to jobs that don’t always have that much glamour involved in the actual work performed.

In much the same way, that is how morticians got their job title. Let’s clarify what morticians do: they prepare bodies, including embalming them, for visitations and burials. They were formerly called undertakers (which originally meant the person who undertook to make all the funeral arrangements but came to designate embalmers). However, the job was so closely tied to death that it took on a dark and sinister meaning as time passed.

This particular job in the funeral process is not very sexy (with the possible exception of Frederico Diaz, the mortician who talks to the dead in the HBO series Six Feet Under) nor is it one that many people are likely to choose as a profession.

The name change from undertakers to morticians was first proposed in 1895 in The Embalmers’ Monthly, a funeral business trade magazine. It sounded more user-friendly and it distanced itself from the business at hand, which was death.

During the Civil War, embalming became a standard funeral practice out of military necessity. Until then, only medical schools used embalming to preserve cadavers for research. After President Abraham Lincoln was embalmed for his trip (13 days) from Washington, DC to Springfield, IL where he would be buried, embalming became customary as part of funeral arrangements for burial.

It is a professional industry, and not one that just anyone can do. There is much education and training involved because morticians not only embalm the body, but they also handle cosmetic repairs and shaping (especially in the face, which can be contorted in death), washing and dressing the body, and washing and styling the hair.

Because it was a professional trade, practitioners wanted to leave the undertakers of the past (most of whom had little to no education) behind. This called for a new job title: mortician. The word mortician comes from the Latin root for death, mort, combined with the suffix from physician. The new word identified embalmers as scientifically-trained with strong links to the medical community.

Sometimes job title changes work and sometimes they don’t. Nobody liked the new job titled except for morticians. Word critics claimed that the title was loftier than the profession and it had an air of affectedness to it.

Word scholars didn’t like it because they said it violated the rules of forming new words. All the other words that ended with the same sound took the profession or things (mathematic, electric, physic, etc.) and added ian to the end. Mortician was the exception because the suffix was ician. Therefore, it was not a word.

But the morticians proved they were stronger than the critics, and the job title is still around today. Their word formation has been extended in the English language, not always well or successfully, but one that endures is beautician.

If you’d like more information about cremations in College Park, MD you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can drop by our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.

Adelphi, MD cremations

Death Abroad: Understanding Repatriation Services

Before Adelphi, MD cremations, when a loved one is traveling overseas, either for business or pleasure and they suddenly die, it can seem as though a million things need to be attended to, even in the midst of grief and shock over losing them.

As easy as it may be to get temporarily paralyzed when a shocking event like the sudden death of someone you love when the death occurs international, time is of the essence. Body repatriation (bring a body from a foreign country back to the United States) requires that a large amount of paperwork and procedures need to be filed or executed as quickly as possible.

The first things that happen when a loved one dies in a foreign country are that the local embassy contacts the State Department when then notifies the closest relatives of the death. The clock begins to tick at this point.

You need to contact the funeral home to assist you from this point on with repatriation services. The first thing the funeral home will do is to execute a “Next-of-Kin Affidavit,” and they will provide a signed “Letter of Instruction” that contains the details of how the body should be repatriated.

If the foreign officials are experiencing difficulty in confirming the identity of the deceased (death may have been a horrible car accident, a fire, or a boating accident where the body is not found right away), the deceased’s family may be asked to provide dental or medical records for the deceased. Because the process for repatriation of a body is different from country to country, the body must be handled according to the laws of the nation where the death happened.

In general, there are three options to choose from for international repatriation services.

The first option includes preparing the body by embalming it and returning it to the United States. A local funeral home in the country where the death took places will handle the embalming process and then have the body shipped back to America. Because many international embalming procedures are not done with the strict standards and regulations required in the United States, a viewing (or visitation) of the body is discouraged.

The second option for international repatriations is to have the body cremation in the country where the death occurred. Most countries, except those that are predominantly Catholic or Muslim, have an abundance of funeral homes that offer cremation. In countries where religious beliefs frown on cremation, there will be a much-limited choice of funeral homes that will offer cremation. The body may have to be transported to another location within the country to have the cremation done.

The third option is having the body buried locally in the nation where the death happened. This is, obviously, probably the least-favored option, but it may be the one that works best for the family. If the country allows foreign nationals to be buried there, then a local burial can be done. The family will work with the local embassy, which will make all the arrangements.

A footnote to international repatriations is that if the deceased is a victim of a crime, the local authorities will investigate, which will likely cause a delay in the body being transported back to the United States. Most of the time, an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

If you’d like to know more about repatriation services before Adelphi, MD cremations, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

Greenbelt, MD cremations

What You Can Do with Cremains

After Greenbelt, MD cremations, the family often wonders what to do with the cremains of their loved one. There are many traditional options available.

One traditional option is to simply store the cremains in a decorative urn to display at home. Families who choose this option usually take turns storing the cremains at each family member’s home if they all live near each other. Otherwise a spouse or child will keep it at the main family home.

Another traditional choice is to store an urn with the cremains in a columbarium (a building that contains niches for urns) and marked with a gravestone. A third traditional choice is burying the cremains near a spouse in a cemetery plot or burying the cremains in an urn garden (a designated section in a cemetery just for burial of urns).

More personalized choices, though, are available as well.

Scattering the cremains is highly personalized because the location where the cremains are scattered is significant. It may have been the deceased’s favorite place in the world. It might be the place where an engagement or another important event took place. Sometimes cremains are scattered in a family garden or on family land. It’s important, though, to make sure that it is permissible to scatter cremains in the designated location. For state and national parks, a permit may need to be obtained.

Cremation jewelry (also known as memorial jewelry) is becoming a very popular choice for using a loved one’s cremains. These wearable items contain a small portion of the cremains, either stored in them or infused in them. They can be rings, pendants, bracelets, or necklaces. They keep the loved one near at all times, and this can often give family members comfort and consolation in the aftermath of death.

Another way to personalize the use of cremains is taking the loved one on a final trip. This is not a vacation, but a purposeful trip to destinations that were important to the deceased. Cremains are scattered either in meaningful places on the trip here in the United States or taking the cremains to an international location (either significant in travel or perhaps country of origin or where the deceased’s family lived) to be scattered. Taking cremains on an airplane requires adherence to TSA and airline regulations, but it is a fairly easy process to complete. If cremains is being taken internationally to be scattered, it’s best to check with that country’s embassy to find out what regulations exist and what protocols must be followed.

A fourth personalized way to use cremains is to make a living urn. Cremains are put into a biodegradable container along with seeds for plants or flowers. The container can be planted in a spot where friends and family can come to visit.

A very unusual personalized way to use cremains is as fireworks. The cremains are mixed with fireworks (there are companies that do this). The ensuing fireworks show both memorialize the deceased and scatter the ashes in an amazing way.

A final personalized way to use cremains is to mix a small portion of the cremains with tattoo ink and get a tattoo done with the ink. This option is not for the fainthearted, but it definitely ranks high in uniqueness.

For more ideas about what to do with cremains after Greenbelt, MD cremations you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can drop by our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.

cremations in Beltsville, MD

Unique Ideas for Memorial Services

If you’re having memorial services after cremations in Beltsville, MD, there are many unique ways that you can honor the memory of your loved one. These allow mourners to gather, participate in personal ways, and give more insights into who the deceased was in life and what was important to them.

A themed memorial service focuses on one aspect of the deceased’s life that they were passionate about or it creates a symbol of their lives.

The first theme approach is centered on the deceased’s passion. That could be volunteering, music, art, sports, family, or anything else. The whole memorial service is fashioned to show the deceased’s relationship with what they cared about in life. For example, if the deceased was an avid reader (or a writer), then reading quotes from their favorite books, plays, or poem could be the theme of the memorial service. Different people could read different things, but everything that’s read should give insight into who the person, how they thought, and what was important to them.

The symbolic theme approach uses a phrase or symbols to capture the essence of who the person was or to say goodbye. For example, if the deceased was environmentally-conscious, a memorial service that includes fresh foods from local growers and producers (farm to table) and donations can be made to environmental causes or a tree can be planted in the deceased’s memory.

Familiar symbols of saying goodbye to a loved one include the dove and releasing balloons. You can create a theme around this by using bird images on the service program and include quotes about the flight to give the imagery of the soul taking flight in an elegant and respectful way.

If a themed memorial service doesn’t really work, there are other ways to create unique memorial services.

One way is to create a memory board where people can write down their favorite memories of the deceased. This is a great way to encourage people to share stories and it gives a lot of solace and comfort to the family. It will also highlight the impact of the deceased on the world around them. The family can keep this and pull it out for comfort when the sad times come during the grieving process.

Another way is to create a video with pictures, quotes, and music to play before or during the memorial service. It is a chronological view of the deceased’s life or it can be a random assortment of the best pictures of them. Include their favorite quotes. And ask music that was special to them or that is special to the family’s memories of them.

Some memorial services are about food. Specifically, everything eaten and drunk during the service is a favorite food of the deceased. These don’t have to be expensive or haute cuisine. Simply incorporate some of the things they liked into snacks or easy dishes. For example, if someone had tomatoes as their favorite food, all that would be needed for this food would be a loaf of bread, sliced tomatoes, and a jar of mayonnaise (with turkey and pork bacon and lettuce on the side).

And a final way to memorialize – this is not a service, but it’s related – a loved one is to plant a tree or adopt a bench in their honor.

If you’re interested in other unique memorial service ideas after cremations in Beltsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.