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So Much to be Grateful for

Posted By CANA Staff, Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Happy Thanksgiving from CANA


In the spirit of the holiday, CANA staff took time to reflect on what our work makes us thankful for. To a one, the answer was simple.


We’re grateful for our members. You have served us in our times of grief, throughout history, and reliably with compassion and respect. Thank you. Thank you for working the holidays and weekends. Thank you for the labor you perform that goes noticed and unnoticed.

So this post shares the many ways in which each of us are thankful for you. Happy holidays from the staff of CANA.

I am grateful for CANA’s supplier members and their creative and sensitive development of products that have meaning for grieving families. Part of my job includes reviewing the ads and editing the articles that are published in The Cremationist and taking photos of the exhibits at CANA’s conventions and symposiums. In the course of these duties, I’ve been able to see many examples of designs that have been thoughtfully devised to personalize and contemporize memorialization.

This first-hand exposure recently brought comfort to a circle of loved ones and old pals when I attended a celebration of life for my best friend, who died this past spring. Dottie and I spent our childhood summers together on the shores of Lake Michigan and she raised her own family there. During the cremation arrangement conference with Dottie’s daughter, Ali, I remembered I had seen a handcrafted biodegradable urn that perfectly suited my friend’s personality and lifestyle. The funeral director was able to show it to us via an online catalog. Ali agreed that it was just what her mother would have wanted.

This October, the people gathered for a night of storytelling and remembrance. We were each able to write a farewell message on the urn that contained a portion of my friend’s cremated remains. Many of them remarked on the pleasure it gave them to send her off in this way.

The next morning, a few of us headed out to the beach where Dottie and I had spent so many nights laughing and counting the stars. Ali placed the urn in the water and we said goodbye.

Sara Corkery, Communications Manager

In the two short years since joining CANA I have experienced two deaths in my family. And both times, CANA members were an integral part of getting me and my family through it. The first death came three months into my job when my 35-year-old cousin died from a heart attack caused by years of heroine abuse. My aunt had to arrange for his cremation in Colorado from her home in Arizona. Being brand new to the industry, I had no idea how to navigate making arrangements from a distance and was extremely grateful for the advice from CANA member and board member Bob Boetticher, Jr. He even called to check on me later that day, showing a compassion that I soon learned is a key characteristic of funeral directors in this industry.

Sadly, a year and a half later, that same aunt’s husband, my uncle Marty, finally lost his battle with leukemia. I was the first one she called for help, and I immediately turned to CANA member Elisa Krcilek from Mountain View Funeral Home in Mesa, AZ. Elisa personally came to my aunt’s house because she’d refused to set foot in the funeral home. And when my aunt started to price shop and look at someone with a less-than-stellar reputation, Elisa sold her on the peace of mind over low-cost providers. Elisa kept in constant contact with my aunt and myself, letting us know as each step in the process was complete.

Eventually, my aunt did set foot in the funeral home and purchased a beautiful urn to keep at home, several keepsake urns for her husband’s siblings, and a piece of Madelyn Co jewelry that she proudly showed me the next time I saw her. She loves being able to have part of him with her always. Knowing my aunt, I am convinced that she would never have bought the keepsake urns or the jewelry if she hadn’t gone to the funeral home, which she would never have done if Elisa had not shown her the kindness and compassion that comes so naturally to the industry as a whole and Elisa in particular. My aunt even recommended Elisa and Mountain View to a friend a few months later and plans to buy another piece of jewelry for some of her son’s remains.

As I travel throughout the country to CANA and other industry events, I fall more in love with the people in this industry. You are some of the kindest, smartest, funniest and most compassionate people I have ever met, and I am so thankful to be able to work with you everyday when I come to work. Thank you for being you, and doing what you do. You are my heroes.

Jennifer Head, Education Director

We get more calls from consumers than I think even our members know. Sometimes they just attended a preneed program and want to know more about your company. Other times, they are confused or scared by a process they don’t understand but are forced to contemplate. The worst times, they are grieving for a loved one just on the other side of the door or inside of an urn sitting on their mantel.

On a personal level, I consider myself lucky to have never been in their shoes. My only interaction with the industry before I was hired two years ago was attending services for elderly relatives for whom “it was time” and had “gone to a better place.” But professionally, this meant I had a steep learning curve to be able to understand the industry and address these calls. In the past two years, I’ve spoken to countless members who welcomed my questions and responded with patience and warmth. Thank you.

More than that, I am grateful that when I recommend a CANA member to these callers, I know you will respond with the same patience and warmth you gave me. That any caller described above will be heard and served with the utmost care and respect because they called a CANA member. I’m thankful that I can tell the caller with certainty that our members can help them at any part of the process and that they will find support during this difficult time with you.

Thank you.

Brie Bingham, Membership Coordinator

I spent part of the week before Thanksgiving on the road for CANA in Houston, TX. I staffed a COCP training and spent a fruitful day at the National Museum of Funeral History working on content for the History of Cremation Exhibit scheduled to debut in September 2018. I traveled home marveling about the legacy and impact former and current CANA members have made and are making.

I am so grateful for the many leadership roles CANA leaders have played over the years. From shaping the first laws forming the cremation industry to inventing much of the technology we still use today, CANA members did it. Often facing opposition from competing funeral homes or the queasy media, CANA members prevailed and promoted their cremation vision and services to their communities.

The progressive and entrepreneurial spirit that inspired CANA founders to establish the association in 1913 and convene for the first convention in 1918 prevails today. In this Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for each of you, your quest for innovation, transformative service and advancement. You work hard, and this holiday season I hope you take time to enjoy the many fruits of your labors and reflect on the many things for which you are grateful.

Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director

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