Death doesn’t discriminate. And that’s why it’s never too early to plan for it – even for the gay community. “This will happen,” said Diana Goodman, manager at Washtenong Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Ann Arbor. “We don’t know when, but we have to make room for the new generation.”
With a booth at OutFest in Ann Arbor this September, family services counselor January Wawro said the Washtenong staff would like to reach out to the gay community.
“With Ann Arbor being such a large city, and with many residents from the gay community, we’d like to let them know what we can offer them,” Wawro said.
In the mausoleum, there are numerous engravings in the marble that don’t have a deceased date. “It’s because those are all pre-planned,” she said. “You’d be surprised how many you’ll see.”
Pre-planning a burial also cuts the cost because, just like everything else, funeral expenses will rise, Goodman said. “You can also personalize your service, you get exactly what you want … not the way your family might think you want it. Pre-arrangement is an act of love.”
“You never know what’s going to happen. When you plan early it gives you that peace of mind,” Wawro said.
It also reduces the family’s emotional and financial stress of last minute preparations. “The family, or those holding the burial, have to pay for everything up front unless you set up a payment plan,” Wawro said.
And if HBO’s “Six Feet Under” has left a lasting impression on you as far as the treatment of the body, don’t let it. “We do it a little bit cleaner,” Goodman said. “It’s much more refined.”
For a mausoleum burial, the casket is placed in a crypt, the vault is opened and sealed with a metal plate and marble is placed over the top.
“The mausoleum is an actual cremation, so through the airflow, because your body is about 80 percent water, it just dehydrates and you turn to dust,” Wawro said.
Goodman said the cremation process, which is popular in California and Florida, is beginning to gain popularity in Michigan because it’s cheaper and cemetery space is limited.
“We’re running out of spaces to create new cemeteries,” Goodman said.
Within the enormous mausoleum, Washtenong has an open courtyard, filled with flowers and benches. “You still have that outside feeling, but yet the body is inside,” Goodman said.
Customers can choose from several burial methods at Washtenong, including “kissing for eternity,” which places a couple head-to-head, and the side-by-side method. The traditional in-ground burials are also available in Washtenong’s outdoor cemetery.
“There are so many different options that you can choose from,” Wawro said.
Washtenong Memorial Park and Mausoleum
Ann Arbor, Mich.