How Cemeteries Make Resting in Peace Possible – Transcribed

[00:00:00] Pete Waggoner: Welcome to good grief. The podcast from McConnell funeral homes here in Hudson, Baldwin, Ellsworth and Pete river

[00:00:08] Mike O’Connell: falls. Uh, Prescott.

[00:00:11] Pete Waggoner: I was getting close, getting away.

[00:00:13] Mike O’Connell: You know, you, you should vectored like six months now. So.

[00:00:16] Pete Waggoner: Give me a year and maybe I’ll get it right while along with Michael Connel and Amber Miller, who is standing by our producer here on this show she’s making it all happen.

[00:00:26] We’re gonna talk about creating a final resting place. And what we do know is that the increased, rising cremation, there’s a lot of discussion of the. For the necessity of having a grave space in a cemetery, a lot of things will be surrounding that. We’re going to get into the depths of that. And not only with scattering and keeping of the remains at home, some feel that cemetery spaces are wasteful and in some ways even useless, but today’s discussion is all.

[00:00:53] Why that is not the case and why the cemetery spaces are beneficial for grief and healing, which is always [00:01:00] Michael, a core of what we’re talking about here on good grief.

[00:01:03] Absolutely. This is I’m a, I’m a cemetery nerd. So I’m looking forward to this one.

[00:01:07] I am too. We’re going to take a quick break. We have a message for you when we come back, we’ll have.

[00:01:13] Right after this more and more people are pre-planning. Their funeral is to save their loved ones. The stress of having to plan after emotional loss. If you’re thinking of pre-planning your funeral, but are unsure where to start, you can head over to the website. O’Connell funeral for some free resources.

[00:01:31] There are 10 things you can think about before your funeral PDF comes with a handy worksheet for collecting your thoughts. Mike also walks you through the top four. Pre-planning and a video and some of that might even surprise you, but the time comes and you’re ready to take the next step or just need to ask some questions.

[00:01:46] Our team is here to help take away the guesswork. At any point, you can call the schedule appointment or sit down with one of our other qualified pre-planning specialists, head over to the website to check out the resources and to set a no obligation appointment.

[00:01:59] [00:02:00] And now back to our podcast.

[00:02:02] So, Michael, you said your, what’d you say your cemetery nerd,

[00:02:07] Mike O’Connell: but I’m also, I thought I was the producer of this, but we’ll go, we’ll talk about that.

[00:02:10] Pete Waggoner: No, you’re the executive producer.

[00:02:12] Mike O’Connell: Oh, all right. Okay. Fair enough. I love cemeteries. So this is something I’m passionate about. That was

[00:02:18] a recovery at, at its finest, I think pretty much. Okay.

[00:02:21] Pete Waggoner: Why should we have a cemetery? And can you tell us a little bit about what the benefits of.

[00:02:26] Mike O’Connell: Sure. Okay, so I’m going to go back a little bit farther when somebody says they’re either having a burial or cremation or a traditional service, that’s the easiest part.

[00:02:36] And what I mean is the cremations easiest part. Then the final resting spot is way more than just a place to put cremates. It’s huge. So there’s a ton of benefits that a cemetery is besides just a holding place. So if you look at it that way, then we’ve missed the mark. It’s the place to go to Memorial.

[00:02:53] Now I do that. And yes, I’m in this business, but I go see my parents, my brother [00:03:00] grandmas. I love it because it’s very peaceful. So for me, it’s much more than a holding place. It’s also a quiet place to reflect on the legacy and how much that loss has affected you. So when I go to the cemetery, I think about my brother, my dad in the business and where I’m at today.

[00:03:22] I looked back to not only yesterday, but today and tomorrow. So again, it’s just a huge thing to look back and accept the reality. That’s one of those stages that Mrs. Ross said as his acceptance, but I think it helps because even like, when I was say this before to you, that when my brother, my dad died, I was going to call my brother.

[00:03:43] Now he was gone 18 years. So my lose my mind. No, that’s that little, your, your mind wants to slowly absorb this. So going to a cemetery.

[00:03:53] Pete Waggoner: The peace and the tranquility of being able to take your time there. That absolutely [00:04:00] has, I would think of focusing nature to it to allow you to continue, whether you go on a holiday or on, on the anniversary or anything like that.

[00:04:10] I’m sure that can become kind of a tradition or a habitual part of grief because we’ve talked many times it doesn’t just stop and go.

[00:04:19] Mike O’Connell: I love pastor John Hanson. We’ll talk about this quite a bit, that he lives next to a cemetery and he will tell you that there’s no crows. There’s no ravers and there’s no scare crows.

[00:04:29] There’s no ghouls and goblins. It’s a beautiful place to reflect. And he’ll talk about people that will have picnics there that will bring their kids out because they never got a chance to meet grandpa. And so she’s telling about grandpa, so she’s accepting that loss. And she’s creating, you know, a space for healing and for her to talk about her dad and it’s just very therapeutic.

[00:04:54] Pete Waggoner: So it’s about perspective and how you view it. And when he’s [00:05:00] comfortable with that, and he understands exactly what it is, and then he can see the beauty of it. It would be nice to be able to quantify that, but you kind of, can’t, it’s kind of personal.

[00:05:09] Mike O’Connell: Well, yeah. And then if you go there again to think, well, I’m not going there cause I don’t want to be sad today.

[00:05:13] It’s not about that in for that matter. If it was sad, process it, get it out of the way and then you can go and do something else. See it be mother’s day. Maybe you want to go to the cemetery. I have some time and then go celebrate, have the brunch be surrounded by your loved ones, but give yourself that time to reflect.

[00:05:34] Pete Waggoner: You know, we hear the term rest in peace a lot, and it does signify rest in peace.

[00:05:38] Can you talk on that component of it a lot?

[00:05:42] Amber Miller: I think one thing I’m kind of that topic of rest and peace is that unfortunately, and fortunately in the world that we live in that there’s very few places in our life that gives us that opportunity. The hustle and bustle of kids and family life and work and traffic and all of that.

[00:05:58] There’s very few places where [00:06:00] we can actually go and give ourselves that time. And I think a cemetery is a perfect place and opportunity to do that. And one of the few places that we can have to do and kind of express our grief. And be peaceful.

[00:06:12] Pete Waggoner: You know, what I found interesting about the whole concept of the cemetery is that if you go through small towns, it’s usually either right by the church or in a neighborhood you know, even here in Hudson, there’s one right up the road and it’s a part of the community.

[00:06:30] Mike O’Connell: Well, that does go back PTU. You did hit on some, some history there because they used to be tied to churches, but they used to be dying. Being born and dying was part of everyday life. And then it wasn’t till we institutionalized death that we wanted them on the outskirts of town, not in the, where people live, because that was scary stuff.

[00:06:50] But I’m going to throw an accolade out to Mike Miller for Willow river cemetery. Pete, you’ve been to a park haven’t you? And you’ve walked around, whether it be Willow river and Hudson or different county or [00:07:00] state parks. And you went there because you wanted to appreciate the beauty and the sounds and all of that.

[00:07:06] Mike Miller’s created a park and I used to, when I lived in town would go walk up with my dogs and through the cemetery gets absolutely gorgeous. It is peaceful. There’s the birds chirping Willow river you’ve got deer that are walking through and Turkey and different thing, but it’s a beautiful place to have some quiet restful.

[00:07:27] It does not about being sad. I think that’s the misnomer that people think it’s just a place to go and feel sad for yourself or cry, but it’s a place to rejoice in and draw the beauty.

[00:07:39] Pete Waggoner: So now when we go to the next step, we start talking about the columbarium and that’s a little bit different from what we were talking about now, and that has to do more along the cremation lions and what you do in that situation.

[00:07:54] And before we go there, you can’t burry and earn correct. Or some people do that. I [00:08:00] assume.

[00:08:00] I mean, I laugh at that because people don’t know. So I always tell staff that when people come in and say, I just want a cremation, it’s not what we think. It’s what they think or what they don’t know. So absolutely.

[00:08:12] You can vary just like you would a casket. Yeah. And yes. Perfect. Does that happen? Often?

[00:08:18] Mike O’Connell: I would say the majority of the cases are buried versus somebody taking them home and scattering them. Cause we always say you do need a place to go. And reflect, you know, don’t think of the actual minute right now, because that can come back to bite.

[00:08:32] You, you need to think about down the road when your kids are older or you’re struggling a place to go to redirect your grief. So. Absolutely people can bury those or they can put them in columbariums. Now it’s important to know that for people they’re not picking cremation for costs are different.

[00:08:51] They want choices. And some people don’t want a cemetery primarily because they don’t want to be in the ground. So columnbarium is if you think of it this [00:09:00] way, it’s a drawer full of like a chest full of drawers that you open. And that’s what a columbarium is. That’s an upright marble. That allows urns to be buried above ground.

[00:09:11] That’s basically all it is.

[00:09:13] Pete Waggoner: So now this is layman’s approach. My grandma was put into, in a casket into, it was maybe over by Mendota Heights, muzzle Liam.

[00:09:21] Yes.

[00:09:22] Mike O’Connell: That’s a different, it’s a different, it’s a different, because it’s a body, but it’s the same approach. It’s the same thing. It’s it’s a shelf.

[00:09:30] Pete Waggoner: Yeah.

[00:09:30] It’s almost like it was just put it exactly the crypt of the mausoleum.

[00:09:37] Well, I didn’t know what was going on there. I thought that was a little different because I had never even known something like that existed. And then the first things that come into my mind is, is this like, is it a safe, you know, I felt like the ground would be a more maybe traditional in my mind place, but like natural for it to be.

[00:09:56] But, you know, obviously you’ve come to [00:10:00] appreciate and understand it. It’s just another way of doing.

[00:10:02] Mike O’Connell: He said bury him. So they knew they wouldn’t come back up. He’d right there in a shelf. You’re thinking, well, geez, they can just open that thing up and come on. Can’t they get out.

[00:10:11] Pete Waggoner: Exactly. So, now these are increasing in popularity and some of these, columbariums are outdoors too as well, correct.

[00:10:19] Okay.

[00:10:21] Mike O’Connell: I would say the majority are well versus all the cemeteries are because they’re outside, but church. Are putting them out. It’s interesting, Pete. This is just a statute, but funeral homes can’t open or operate one because of a, what’s called a combo law. You can’t be part of a cemetery and a funeral home today’s but churches can cemeteries can.

[00:10:42] And so again, they’re just trying to give options.

[00:10:45] Pete Waggoner: Crypt, can you guys get into that a little bit deeper? What, what would we have there? So that’s kind of what you were.

[00:10:50] Amber Miller: Talking about that your grandma wasn’t, that it’s essentially a while like a columbarium is, but it’s designated for caskets versus versus urns.

[00:10:58] So it’s usually a little bit on the [00:11:00] larger side. It can be indoors can be outdoors. Just like a columbarium Ken, but it gives a little bit of the option in terms of space. If you, you know, feel strange about in ground burial. And you want something above ground, same, kind of premise.

[00:11:13] Mike O’Connell: Pete, I’m going to actually want to say very talking about layman terms.

[00:11:17] You have a dresser at home, right? Yep. It’s got drawers. Yup. Okay. That’s a columbarium and that’s a niche. Got it. That’s as simple as yes.

[00:11:25] Pete Waggoner: And that’s exactly what it felt like. Yeah,

[00:11:28] Mike O’Connell: absolutely. But that’s basically in layman’s terms.

[00:11:31] Pete Waggoner: What is the casket first cremation plot?

[00:11:35] Mike O’Connell: Well cemeteries. So a lot of cemeteries have gone bankrupt or have fallen back on municipalities.

[00:11:43] For example, locally Hammond did because people weren’t buying graves anymore. So when somebody buys a grave for 400, $600, a part of that per state law has to go into a perpetual care fee that takes care of if a tree falls mowing the [00:12:00] grass. All of those things, insurance, and when you’re not getting that money and you go, you go bankrupt and then it falls back on the municipality of which they don’t want.

[00:12:09] Pete Waggoner: Question on that real quick. Yes. So if someone owns that land, right. That plot of land, where cemetery

[00:12:18] Mike O’Connell: is, you own the right to it.

[00:12:19] Pete Waggoner: You don’t say no. I mean like, so if I own the land where it’s okay. And I’m setting. And I sell that land. I mean, is that protected through law somehow? That it has to always be that you’ve never heard of it, but the first thing I thought I was like, oh boy, what if that happened?

[00:12:36] Mike O’Connell: Yes. If in fact let’s say you have a home, when you bury somebody on your home property, that’s really more likely because private people don’t own cemeteries. So if you have a property where you bury grandma or your mom and dad on. You then become, you have to get it zoned and then you become a cemetery which you have to have your land open to people to come [00:13:00] in during the regular work day hours, eight to five, like a regular cemetery.

[00:13:04] And then you have to have that on your deed when you sell it that they have to all of us accept those rules too. Okay. So

[00:13:10] Pete Waggoner: it carries over from, it does carry over. Yeah. Yeah, we, we gotta move this outta here. We’re gonna, we’re going to develop apartment buildings here or something.

[00:13:18] Mike O’Connell: I know you can’t do that.

[00:13:19] So getting back with the cemetery is going to funct and going back to, minutes of palette. What they decided to do is if people aren’t buying graves for cremates, they’re going to have to start getting revenue in. So they’re going to start selling right to enter in the grave. So if you want to be buried on grandma, you’re going to have to pay a fee that goes towards perpetual care, or cemeteries have said you don’t need a full, what is it?

[00:13:46] Eight foot grave to bury your Earnin. We’re going to call them cremation spaces where they can sell four of them versus one cat. So it’s a revenue, it’s smart business for sending things. Yeah.

[00:13:56] Pete Waggoner: What’s the cost fluctuations and all of this? [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Mike O’Connell: It depends on where you go. You go to the cities like Lakewood cemetery, people know as a beautiful cemetery, Minneapolis Ammerman view, or you could, I know families that have paid 10,000 or $12,000 for a niche that just the ability to put them in a drawer.

[00:14:14] Pete Waggoner: Right. Wow.

[00:14:15] Mike O’Connell: Now you come out here in Hudson and it’s probably, I think a Willow river. Well, they’re probably what, 2300 Amber, that’s the right to be there. And that’s the open and closing fee now you think, well, it takes a screwdriver and you’re absolutely right. It’s very simple to do that, but you have to remember overhead.

[00:14:35] Okay. McDonald’s sells coffee for what? Probably a buck 50 that copy probably cost them 10 cents. What’s the rest? Well, there’s revenue, but there’s also overhead. And so cemeteries have overhead too. They have someone that’s mowing the lawn. Okay. The tree went down, they have insurance, the fence needs to get repaired.

[00:14:54] So cemeteries have to make money as well.

[00:14:58] Pete Waggoner: How about markers and [00:15:00] monuments different sizes, depending upon the plot or plots purchased like some Catholic cemeteries, for example, may require that the marker monument be a specific shape, style or type. So how does that hierarchy.

[00:15:15] Amber Miller: I think monuments and markers in general are a great way to personalize the space.

[00:15:20] And I think that’s maybe one issue that people have in terms of creating a cemetery space is that, I don’t want my space to look the same as all of the rest. So markers are a great way to do that. In some Catholic cemeteries, they may require certain engravings. For the most part, you’re able to kind of pick and choose the color that you want, the style that you want, depending on the area of the cemetery that you choose.

[00:15:44] You’re able to do an upgrade or a flat, different types of shapes and styles. And I think that really goes back to how can we personalize these spaces?

[00:15:54] I worked with a family a couple of months ago that had requested a particular stone from a particular [00:16:00] state because that was where, you know, grandma lived for so long.

[00:16:04] So we wanted that particular color. And I thought that was a really, really neat touch to kind of bring back some really personalized piece of her life.

[00:16:12] Pete Waggoner: So, so if you want something different going to Fort, Snelling’s probably not a good.

[00:16:18] Mike O’Connell: Right. Not even possible.

[00:16:22] Pete Waggoner: But the inverse of that is, is that that’s a pretty dynamic cool thing.

[00:16:28] When you, when you’re coming in on a plane or taking off and you get the overhead view of how. Incredible that is, and, and how uniform it looks it’s really buttoned up. It’s kind of cool.

[00:16:40] Mike O’Connell: Absolutely. And for veterans that’s great. And for civilians like myself, you’ve got the regular municipal cemeteries that do the same.

[00:16:49] For example, like Amber mentioned, like, I’ll just talk about my parents. We have a monument, that’s got our family tree on there with all of our names of the. We’ve got our logo when a funeral director [00:17:00] poem, because Dan dad and I, and my dad’s uncles that are close by or all funeral directors. So to me, that was super meaningful.

[00:17:06] And I love to go there and see that in terms of momentos flowers.

[00:17:09] Pete Waggoner: I’m sure some of these cemeteries don’t want you loading it up all the time because they got work to do, to, to keep the grounds looking one.

[00:17:19] Mike O’Connell: Yeah, I’m not gonna throw anybody into the bus. But there has been in the last few years, a lot of cemeteries have taken anything that’s loose outside of the foundation.

[00:17:30] And obviously that can create a lot of hardship for families. They have to have their rules because the guy mowing the grass is, is doesn’t want to run over stuff or damaged lawnmowers or hit something. And then it flies up and hits the monument and then the families are upset. So it’s, it’s hard to get a happy medium in there, but usually if it’s within the confines of the foundation, you’re good.

[00:17:52] When the foundation is the cement that gives it stability underneath the monument or around a flat.

[00:17:59] Pete Waggoner: In [00:18:00] terms of Amber touched on, you know, those that would like to do something unique and different. There are some things that you can do within the structure of what’s allowed. Right. Can you touch on some of those things in terms of what someone can do to have a unique or different.

[00:18:16] Amber Miller: So we see often family is going, whether that’s a couple of times a season to update or refresh mom’s grave, whether that’s changing out the plants and the plant stand to different colors for the holidays, placing wind chime. Is there. Yeah. So it’s kind of a sensory thing going to the cemetery.

[00:18:35] Not only do you feel the breeze and hear the birds tripping, but you hear the beautiful, you know, kind of wind chimes and such, which again, brings back to that, that whole peaceful place. Doing particular, you know, symbols on the, on the stone, whether it’s civic organizations or placing flags on Memorial day for our veterans.

[00:18:54] Or other plaques that kind of symbolize things that they did in their life. A lot of different things we can do at the grave [00:19:00] to make our spaces unique.

[00:19:02] Mike O’Connell: I love it too, Pete, because the monument company, so when, after someone dies in week can get involved in the monument or the cemetery marketings, the monument companies have their fees. So we work within that. There’s no additional fee for us to do it, but we like to create something special.

[00:19:20] So you had mentioned Fort Snelling, and if you don’t like. The white, upright markers. That’s not for you. If you don’t like your standard monument, come talk to us because we’re going to find something that’s creative.

[00:19:32] Maybe it’s an unusual shape, like a cross or a plane. Obviously those are more expensive, but the monument companies are going to have their price. We do it because we love to do it. We loved it. I don’t like something that looks like everybody else’s. So the monument companies joke around with me a lot.

[00:19:46] They say, do you kind of come up with some funky designs? And I’m thinking why not?

[00:19:50] Pete Waggoner: Absolutely. Make it a unique to the individuals, correct? I mean, that’s the story that’s being told and you know, what you guys say here is [00:20:00] it’s a hundred percent customizable and personalized to your loved ones.

[00:20:03] So when that process is occurring, is that usually something that’s being determined through the living group or sometimes do you find that those that have prearranged, which of course would be another podcast coming up down the road may have said, you know, I want a monument and I want it to do this, but have left some open-ended items on that.

[00:20:22] Mike O’Connell: I would say it’s the people, you know, the surviving, the people that are prearranging are thinking more simple and they’re thinking, I just don’t quote a lot of.

[00:20:32] You know, extremes on this. Just keep something simple when the family may need something a little more personalized.

[00:20:38] Pete Waggoner: Got it. How about personalized items while you brought that up? What can they do in terms of placing things at the cemetery that are personal in nature? And then my next question naturally would be how long do those items stay?

[00:20:52] Mike O’Connell: You can stay there indefinitely. I don’t Amber, unless you have some different, but what we’ll do is we’ll have holes drilled in the foundation because if you [00:21:00] want to put a wind sock or a chime or something, again, it can’t be outside that foundation for most places. And this is kind of a, maybe a bad analogy, but the closer you get to the cities, the more rules.

[00:21:12] What I mean by that as Baldwin and Hammond, don’t have a lot of rules, but if you go towards Hudson and you start to get them and you get to the cities, it’s really regulated.

[00:21:21] Pete Waggoner: Is that because of neighbors and people living nearby?

[00:21:24] Mike O’Connell: No, I hope no one’s offended by this at a cemetery border, I think.

[00:21:28] But it’s about the guy that cuts the grass. He’s got the loudest complaints and so they direct the rules are on a cemetery because of the guy cutting the grass. Not for hundreds of families that are. I mean, I, I say that with all due respect to the sextons, but that’s really what it amounts to.

[00:21:44] Amber Miller: And also those cemeteries too, are more on the larger side, you know, maybe 2, 3, 4 times the size of ones that are local here. So, it really does maybe take, take some more time for them to get on and off their, their tractor or their weed whip or anything like that. So I guess that’s [00:22:00] another thing too, is.

[00:22:01] Mike O’Connell: So to answer your question, Pete, you can put trinkets on the base of the monument. You can put those winds, socks, plagues, different things. If the hole is in the foundation, they don’t have a problem with that. And so it’s gotta be within the confines. It’s funny, you’ll see dollar bills. You’ll see coins, you’ll see glass, you’ll see a bottle of beer.

[00:22:19] Sometimes those things, if they’re glass, they’ll be taken. Also if kids don’t get in there, they don’t bust it and then there’s glass all over. If it’s a within reason, they leave them there, if they’re within that foundation.

[00:22:34] Pete Waggoner: So the things that you could put their plants stands flags, and we’ve talked about the wind chimes and other things like that.

[00:22:40] Do you help out with, do people ever ask you, you know, what can we do here? Do you give them creative ideas?

[00:22:47] Mike O’Connell: Oh, sure, absolutely. And there’s, there’s a couple, I think cemetery, flower companies. Now I believe Hudson flower shop, I believe, like [00:23:00] Bo Johns or Pearson’s Baldwin greenhouse. They will not only make your cemetery planter of flowers, but they’ll go back and they’ll make.

[00:23:09] Oh, cause if you don’t maintain it or water, it it’s done feed, right? Oh, right out in the sun. There’s no shade. And the sun is beating down. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That’s why I’m not a big fan of vases. Those little vases that come out of monuments because they’re only about four inches done that he gets there.

[00:23:25] They’re fried. And unless you have artificial in two seconds, right. It’s gone.

[00:23:28] Correct. Unless you have artificial, which most people do.

[00:23:32] Pete Waggoner: Good stuff here, creating a final resting place, a topic. I don’t think we’ve ever done here on good grief. So I liked delving into this one. It was a, again, another area for me that I’ve never thought of or considered.

[00:23:46] And what’s been so great on this journey that I’ve been doing with your whole group here, Michael, is that I know just a dude who does podcasts. Let’s say I’ve learned so much about this whole process that I [00:24:00] believe everybody that walks up and down the street could, could learn a lot and do more with what we’ve done.

[00:24:05] So another great topic and appreciate delving into that a little bit deeper.

[00:24:09] Mike O’Connell: I’m going to end up with one thing, Pete, you’ve heard the old saying it’s set in concrete or sentence. Where do you think that came from? It comes from monuments. So once you do something it’s permanent. So give it thought, make sure it’s meaningful.

[00:24:22] And if you need any ideas, come visit us, we’ll, we’ll give you a lot of things to think about. Cause that’s what we love to do and make, engage you and make it think about stuff.

[00:24:30] Pete Waggoner: Great stuff. This has been good grief. Check everybody out here at the for Amber Miller and Michael O’Connell. I’m Pete Wagner.

[00:24:40] So long everybody.