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Confessions and Lessons, Part I (Urns and Caskets)

"Learn your place in people's life... So that you don't over play your part"

~ Sreekanth Ramu

Have you ever wondered why the selection of urns and caskets at many funeral homes look almost exactly alike, regardless of ownership or location of the business? You are not alone! I’ve often wondered the same thing and, surprisingly for me, also found it difficult to be able to consistently provide unique selections to our KORU clients. 

In my pursuit of being “different” I spoke to local artisans, reached out to local craft guilds and was thrilled to learn that some in those circles had taken it upon themselves to create beautiful urns and memorial keepsakes for ashes (cremated remains), not to mention hand-made shrouds for full burial. I naively believed that KORU could break the conventional funerary offering mould and be able to feature uniquely crafted merchandise, so I eagerly arranged to sell some of these fine pieces. However, to my dismay, and despite the appreciation people showed for the unique merchandise KORU was offering, the artisanal vessels didn’t sell. In fact, I had one beautiful “reliquary” on consignment for about four years before having to finally return it to the artist who made it. In that visit I heard of all of the other pieces the potter had been commissioned to make for people wanting something special for their dearly departed’s ashes. It dawned on me then that this wasn’t the first time I had heard this kind of account.

I humbly admit that it took me this long to realize that people who are after something unique to help memorialize, commemorate or just keep safe their person’s remains, want and need the connection with the artist or craftsperson, not just make a purchase from their local funeral home that is seeking to pioneer a different standard. All things with death and grief seem to come back to connection, particularly when the vessel that is ultimately created becomes a depiction of the love that is felt for the one who has died. 

And so, with my long road to discovering this particular secret, life offered me an olive branch and I was thrilled to learn about the Funerary Artisans Collective, a platform for both artists to showcase their skills and clients to find unique and beautiful vessels for cremated and human remains. 

My confession to you, dear reader, is that I still like to do and be different and will likely continue to do my best to seek out offerings that are beautiful and maybe not so conventional while also being glad to introduce clients who are looking for something extraordinary to any of the fine artists and crafters I know of. 

My lesson from this story, “stay in your own lane”!!

1 Comment

  • Nicola Finch
    Posted January 5, 2023 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful post and for your support of our work as funerary artisans. What you describe has definitely been our experience and why we have always offered only commissioned, custom work. Creating memorial rings and pendants is of course about our clients having something beautiful that will be a touchstone for them for years to come but it is so much more than that; it is about the relationship with the individual, the family and their beloved dead. Relationships that often endure well beyond the delivery of their commissioned piece.
    Our work as funerary artisans is also enriched by our relationship with KORU; we need more deathcare professionals like Ngaio and Emily who are consistently bringing positive change to this sacred work.
    Thank you.
    Nicola and David Finch

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