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A Dignified Goodbye: Phaneuf Lays Unclaimed Cremains to Rest

How do you want to be memorialized after you die? Would you prefer a big ceremony or a quiet wake reserved only for close family and friends? Whether or not we adhere to a religious belief, we all hope to be remembered by our loved ones after we pass; we hope to be celebrated even if we live a simple life. Unfortunately not everyone gets that privilege. And no one knows this sad truth better than those who work in funeral homes.

Here at Phaneuf, cremated remains are sometimes left behind, in some cases for several decades. Every effort is made to connect with the families of the deceased, but for various reasons, this is not always conclusive. While the law states that remains must be held for 30 days and then can be discarded as the funeral home sees fit, there is something undeniably tragic to unceremoniously disposing of someone who was once a vibrant being.

shelf-people4Phaneuf and our colleagues around the Manchester area decided to do something worthwhile to honor these deceased souls; on Saturday, March 19 a service was held at the Mount Calvary Mausoleum in Manchester. Bishop Peter Libasci presided over the Mass. The souls of 59 deceased were laid to rest with honor, grace and kindness while more than one hundred local community members helped them on their way. The ceremony is a culmination of a months-long process that involved searching for family members of the deceased and collaborating with willing participants in the community to plan and execute the event. It was a labor of love and it will surely be remembered by our family here at Phaneuf and, we hope, by our friends in the area.

Although the service in itself was a touching tribute, it was also remarkable to see how the ceremony affected the living attendees. For some, Saturday’s event was a way to reconnect with long-lost loved ones whom they thought to already be buried. For others, this was a way to remember and grieve their own losses, while honoring others. The end result was incredible: an outpouring of kindness, love and respect for human life.

It is easy to feel discouraged by humanity when turning on the news or reading a newspaper, but it feels good to be present at something like this and to realize that there is so much goodness in the world, too. Whenever you find it, carry that goodness and share it with everyone around you—that’s how you make it grow.

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