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“Solidified remains have quickly become a popular option for our families,” said Buddy Phaneuf, President of Phaneuf and CSNH. “People choose this option because solidified remains resemble stones that can be held easily and shared with family members.”
Phaneuf partners with the company Parting Stone for the creation of solidified remains. Following the death of his grandfather, Parting Stone founder and CEO, Justin Crowe, realized that living with conventional cremated remains can feel uncomfortable, so in many households, they often end up hidden in a closet for decades. Parting Stone worked with material scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop solidified remains to empower families in their grief with a form of remains that can be touched and held.
“It is a profound opportunity to live with the remains of our loved ones, but conventional cremated remains make that experience uncomfortable,” Justin said. “We developed an alternative to conventional cremated remains to help families feel a meaningful connection with their departed. When you choose cremation, you no longer have to take home ashes.”
The solidification process
Parting Stone’s technicians transform cremated remains into an attractive collection of 40-60 cremation stone rocks that a family can share, scatter and use in other ways to honor their loved one. Solidified remains in the form of a rock that can be held may help with the grieving process or closure of a loved one’s death.
The appearance of each collection of solidified remains is 100% natural. Solidified remains may have different hues and textures, making each set unique. Parting Stones range in size from thumbnail up to palm size.
“They feel and look very beautiful. To see a family member pick up a stone for the first time is something special. The stones are packaged in an elegant and minimalistic way and come with a card from the artist that formed and processed them, so that the family has the opportunity to write the artist a note if they would like to express any emotions or feelings that they may have.,” said Kade N. Stewart, a funeral director with Phaneuf and CSNH who has worked with several families during the solidification process.
The solidification process is similar to making ceramics in a laboratory. Once the remains arrive at Parting Stone, contaminants are removed and the remains become a clay-like material. Then, remains are formed, solidified in a kiln and polished.
A new option for scattering
“Many times when you scatter ashes, it’s a messy procedure. If there’s wind or different aspects of nature occurring, it may not be the pleasant experience of closure you envision,” Kade said.
If your family member had a specific outdoor place where they want their remains to go, you can still honor their wishes with solidified remains. Parting Stones can be tossed into a body of water, in the forest or placed on a piece of private land (with the owner’s permission).
Families can choose to split the remains, keeping some traditional cremains in an urn or scattering them, and still solidify the remaining cremains.
It takes approximately six weeks for the solidification process.
Parting Stone is available for all cremation arrangements
If someone wants to update a pre-arranged cremation plan to include solidified remains, Phaneuf and CSNH can update the arrangement.
At the time an arrangement is made, someone may choose to have a loved one returned either as cremated remains or solidified remains.
If someone currently has cremated remains of a loved one at home and chooses to have the remains solidified, Phaneuf and CSNH can assist in the process, even if the cremation didn’t occur with Phaneuf or CSNH.
Another option for families is having cremated remains solidified together. For example, if your grandfather died and you have his remains, and now your grandmother has passed on, their cremains can be combined and turned into Parting Stones together.
Kade shared a story of working with a family:
“This gentleman was an outdoorsman. We talked about the different options with cremation and how they could take the stones to different locations,” he said. “The family is waiting for the stones to have the service, and they’re going to give one to each attendee if they’d like to have one.
Kade said there are a number of frequently asked questions. Families want to ensure the remains they’re getting back are that of their family member. That’s part of Parting Stone’s guarantee.
The guarantee also includes satisfaction with the stones, meaning if someone is not pleased with the look of the stones, they can send them back and Parting Stone will “re-grind” and process the stones to their original state at no extra cost.
Families also ask about the stability of the stones.
“They can break if you throw them down quite hard. They don’t dissolve in water. They’re just like ceramic or porcelain. Imagine river stones. They’ll be around longer than you are,” Kade said.
Phaneuf and CSNH knows this may be a new concept for most people. The following videos from Parting Stone explain the process and include specific stories.
Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium recently received a Great Place to Work certification for 2021, based on feedback from employees. Phaneuf’s team ranks the funeral home 15% higher than average companies are rated by their employees, according to a U.S. National Employee Engagement Study.
Phaneuf currently serves more than 3,000 families in NH and VT each year. Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has been serving the public since 1906 and is one of the oldest continually owned family funeral homes in New Hampshire. Phaneuf is the largest provider of funeral services in New England, and operates five full-service funeral homes, four crematories, and a cremation society. It provides traditional and non-traditional funeral and cremation services.