Welcome to the opening announcement from Heartland Pet Aquamation! Opening a new business is always a challenge, and 2020 has thrown all of us more and bigger challenges than anyone could have expected. We have all been called to take many new steps to protect the people around us, and balancing our personal and professional goals while observing best safety practices has focused our values and priorities in a profound way. Wherever we are in our own lives, this year has asked us all to make hard decisions about what we believe to be most important.
I want to take this time to talk about how Heartland Pet Aquamation came to be, and how I hope to provide something valuable to the Kansas City area. The first question I get is always, “What is aquamation? I’ve never heard of it.” I have answers to the most common technical questions elsewhere on the website, but in this post I want to answer the other frequent questions: how did I find out about it, and why did I decide to become a practitioner?
I first learned about aquamation from Caitlin Doughty’s ‘Ask A Mortician’ series on YouTube. She is a terrific educator and advocate, and brings an extraordinary blend of levity, dignity, and clarity to topics related to death and our cultural responses to it. Her video about new ecologically conscious innovations in the funeral industry is a great introduction to several topics, but it was the segment on alkaline hydrolysis (the technical process used to perform aquamation) that most caught my attention. Her video is available here.
Over the next year or so, I did more research on the topic, learning about the technical process, its adoption in different states and countries, and how people have responded to the idea. It seemed like a perfect substitution for flame cremation: a respectful and gentle disposition of a loved one’s remains, burning no fossil fuels, uses 90% less energy, and produces no smoke or other emissions. When you look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, they usually mean changing your habits, or a significant expense. Cloth grocery bags, for example, require purchasing the bags, and you need to remember to bring the bags when you go out. The change isn’t effortless!
Change in funerary practice is often very gradual, for two reasons. First, how we care for the dead carries cultural and moral significance that take precedence over the technical questions. European and North American tradition always involved burial when land was seen as plentiful, and flame cremation had uncomfortable fiery symbolism. As little as 50 years ago, less than 10 % of people in the United States chose flame cremation, while today it is more common than burial as people became more familiar with it and more providers arose.
Second, very few people plan funerals often enough to seek ways to change them. To put it plainly, changes will only happen if professionals can give people the choice. That is why Heartland Pet Aquamation is opening: we want to make it easy for people to make green choices. By bringing the service to Kansas City, we are helping people make the decisions that align best with their values and priorities.
We open to the public next week. While day-to-day updates will mostly be on our Facebook page, this blog will be updated periodically with big announcements and lengthier posts! Get in touch via Facebook, email, or phone.