Five questions for 'the tribute planner'
Thomaston — Who would not consider being a funeral director — or as it is referred to now a tribute planner — to be work?
Mike Hall, of Hall Cremation & Funeral Services, that is who.
The native of Waldoboro and graduate of Medomak Valley High School said he realized how important the grieving process is when he lost his older brother from a car accident when he was only 7 years old, then his mother died when he was 10.
"Those times shaped my life," said Hall.
With three locations (Thomaston, Waldoboro, Boothbay Harbor) now under the same umbrella, Hall said it is his purpose in life to help people through the journey of grief. His family has run Hall's since 1958. The current Waldoboro location was the old family homestead and funeral parlor until they moved to a farmhouse in 1974.
"We believe that the most valuable thing we own cannot be seen or touched. It is the goodwill of the families we have served and the people who recommend us," states the business website.
Hall sat down to answer these five questions recently:
What is the biggest change you have seen in your career in the funeral business?
"The personalization — especially here in Maine — with the form of disposition. Back in the day, each service followed tradition of visitation the night before, then a service. Now each service is unique. I think we are going in the right direction."
How has the disposition of the deceased changed?
"Only about a third of those that passed were cremated 25 years ago. Today almost 70 percent are cremated. Not because it is easier. There are actually more decisions to make with cremation, such as being placed in an urn, buried in a cemetery, backyard, or having the ashes spread in a favorite place."
What is the legality of spreading someone's ashes on land or at sea?
"Legally, one cannot spread ashes on private land without permission. On the water, the dispensing is supposed to be 3 nautical miles off shore. It's inorganic bone fragments — it's not harmful."
What are some of the repercussions of spreading the remains without having a designated spot to worship or foregoing a memorial service?
"People need to consider the survivors. A lot of people are 'disappearing'. That's why I tie in genealogy with the planning. Having some type of service or gathering allows for sharing memories, and for feeling, grieving. Rather than marking the end, it should be a celebration of their life."
What are the benefits of pre-planning and an aftercare program?
"Funeral planning should be part of estate planning. It takes away anxiety, and avoids conflict in difficult times. The aftercare program helps with the grieving process. It explains that what they are feeling is normal, even though they don't feel normal."
If you have a candidate for Five Questions, email Beth A. Birmingham at firstname.lastname@example.org.