End-of-Life Resources

At Cremstar, we are committed to managing all the paperwork and logistics so you can focus on what's most important: caring for your family and yourself, and remembering and celebrating the life of your lost loved one in the way that’s right for you. Here are some end-of-life resources that you might find helpful.

Taking care of yourself is of critical importance when grieving. Options like those below can help you or others dealing with loss during this difficult time.

Grief Counselors
Grief counseling is a form of psychotherapy designed to help people cope with the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive responses to loss.
Typical cost: $50-$200+/hour; may be covered by certain health insurance programs.
  • Arcline Associates: Specialties include Grief Counseling and GeriCare© (older adults with complicated grief/loss). Located in Philadelphia, Arcline "helps you confront loss without becoming lost". PA Medicare & CHIPS welcome. View more details  

Death Doulas
A death doula, or death midwife, is a person who assists in the dying process, much like a midwife or doula does with the birthing process. It is often a community-based role, aiming to help families plan for and cope with death through recognizing it as a natural and important part of life.
Typical cost: $200 - $400+
Death Cafés
Death Cafés are a part of a global movement to provide a relaxed and nurturing setting where you can join open, honest discussions to explore the questions you may have about life, dying and grief. To learn more about Death Cafes, click here . [NOTE: Death Cafes are not for bereavement support or grief counseling.] Death Cafes are not-for-profit and there is no cost to attend one (although purchase of a coffee and snack are encouraged to fully partake in the experience).
Support Groups (offline and online)
Most bereavement or grief support groups also include educational sessions generally hosted by a licensed counselor, psychologist or other healthcare professionals (e.g. Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Master in Social Work).
Typical cost: $25 - $85/session

Today, more and more Americans are choosing to create their own Life Celebration events rather than holding a memorial service at a traditional house of worship or funeral home. These events are not designed to mourn those who have passed on. They're designed to remember, honor and—most importantly—celebrate the life of your lost loved one.

These select area venues can help you create the exact event you imagine to celebrate your lost loved one. Their expertise makes planning much simpler during a complicated time.
Typical cost: $50 - $500/room (plus, in some cases, a $10-20/person food & drink fee, or a $25-$50 hourly fee)
  • Unique Venues: If you are looking for a larger space, or for a famous Philadelphia Venue—such as the Franklin Institute or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA)—this provider has what you need. uniquevenues.com  
  • Open Aire Affairs: If you're looking for an outdoor event in Philadelphia's famous Fairmount Park or in rural Bucks County, check out this local provider. They offer some fantastic locations. openaireaffairs.com  
  • Awbury Arboretum: Looking for a more intimate indoor location located in beautiful surroundings, Awbury Arboretum is an extraordinary 55 acres of green space in the historic Germantown section of Philadelphia, and is the largest remaining island of open space in this part of the city. The Cope House, built in 1860, combines Quaker simplicity with Victorian elegance, featuring a Wissahickon schist exterior, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a wrap-around porch. awbury.org  

As venues, restaurants and banquet halls make food planning easy. But caterers are always available, no matter what the location—from beaches to mountaintops. Some planners prefer to invite guests to bring food, potluck remembrances. And often menus are designed to reflect the culinary taste of the departed. Were they crazy about Italian food? Did they love spicy Middle Eastern, Mexican or Chinese cuisine? Were they nuts about dim sum or Polish pierogi?
Typical cost: $25-$40/person
  • Birchtree Catering: Birchtree Catering is a small, woman-owned company that focusses on local sourcing, seasonal menus, and scratch cooking. Waste is composted and recycled in their kitchen and at events, and the company chooses sustainable options whenever feasible. Birchtree Catering won 2015's “Best of Philly” for Party Food, and their food quality standards have been recognized by Grid Magazine, the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia, The Chamber of Commerce, The Knot Magazine and Philadelphia Wedding Magazine. birchtreecatering.com  

Hosts may invite guests to pick the top ten songs they most clearly associate with the lost loved one. Playlists can be self-produced or handed over to a professional DJ hired especially for the event. Music at a Life Celebration is like a walk through a lost loved one's life, so make sure you take all the time required to research and produce a great playlist.
Typical cost: $400-$500 ($100-$125/hour, 4 hour minimum)
  • Bill Mazzara: Bill has been a professional disc jockey for more than twenty-five years servicing the Greater Philadelphia area. While the majority of his work is for weddings, graduations, birthdays and other such events, he also has experience in DJing at Life Celebration Events, a focus he became interested in when he lost his life partner, Pam, a few years ago. “I understand what it's like to lose a close loved one, and how music can be selected that honors and truly celebrates the life of a family member or friend who has passed. Music can be a powerful palliative force. It is so visceral that the right playlist can really bring the memories of a loved one to life.”
    To request a quote, please call (917) 587-0997 or email him at [email protected] Bill Mazzara @ Facebook  

It’s important to remember that the spouse or best friend or close relative of the deceased isn’t necessarily the best MC for the job. Often, emotions get in the way of delivering instructions to support staff and helpers, let alone keynote farewell speeches. Consider picking a friend who will keep your event on track as the MC, or hire a professional Celebrant to help you design and execute your Life Celebration event.
Typical cost: $300 - $750
Since it can often be difficult for those mourning a death to put their feelings into words, flowers can act as an expression of love, comfort, sympathy, and respect. Nothing symbolizes the value of our fleeting lives like flowers. Here today, gone tomorrow, their beauty is eternal. In addition to sending flowers to the funeral service, there is a growing trend to send flowers to the home of the bereaved.
Typical cost: $25-$150+
  • To order flowers for your Life Celebration event, we recommend FloristOne.com  

Eulogies and Obituaries
You can hire a professional author to craft a fitting tribute that will capture the essence of the life of your lost loved one. The service includes interviewing family and friends to gather all required information, plus personal insights and anecdotes.
Typical costs: $200/obituary; $400/full eulogy.
  • Philadelphia Eulogy (J&W Inc.): Beautifully crafted eulogies and obituaries by professional writers (published novelists, journalists, and commentators). Once you place your order, they will email you a link to fill out a questionnaire. The author will review your answers and then set up an appointment to contact you on the phone or via Skype. Call Marie Joseph at (267) 888-8015.

MemoryBox is the nation's premier memorialization website and digital cemetery.

With a MemoryBox memorial, you, your family and friends can post and share photos and memories of your lost loved one, simply, from any device, and from anywhere in the world. Plus, it serves as a place you can return to, again and again. Every Cremstar cremation comes with a free MemoryBox memorial. According to Dr. Clay Routledge, world-renowned expert in the psychology of nostalgia, memory and death, "Study after study has shown that nostalgia acts as a psychological resource that helps people cope with life's stressors and uncertainties, resulting in increased positive mood, self-esteem, feelings of belongingness, and perceptions of meaning in life. If you're a family member or friend of someone who's dying, or of someone who has recently passed, MemoryBox can help you cope with your loss more effectively, delivering real clinical benefits."

Cremstar has partnered with the nation's leading whole body and organ donation organizations to offer donations to science, including CORE, MedCure, Gift of Life, and many others. When you choose a whole body donation, the pickup of the deceased, cremation, and return of cremains are free. Learn more>>

While urns remain the most common choice, more and more families are choosing from the many unique and highly personal options available.

There are more urn styles available than ever before, from a basic wooden urn, to pewer or glass, to handcrafted marble; plus, custom artist-designed urns as well as biodgrabable options. Typical prices range from $100 (for basic wood) - $350+ for marble. Artist-designed options can cost $2000+. For help with urn options, Contact Us. Please note, all Cremstar cremations include a basic container for the ashes; it is not necessary to purchase an urn to receive the cremains.
Potted planter
If you're looking for a different way to keep your loved one alive, there are a number of companies that are creating indoor planters designed to house the cremains of your lost loved one and a living tree.
Typical cost: $200 (basic planter only) - $800 (including planter, tree, and smartphone app to monitor growth).
  • Bios Incube: The Bios Incube dramatically improves the most important aspects of the Bios experience. It is the first system created that lets you plant your Bios Urn close to you, and combines the insights of tree growth with data from its environment. Depending on the type of tree, the Bios Incube will water it accordingly. urnabios.com  

Hand-Crafted glass jewelry with cremains
More and more Americans are choosing to memorialize lost loved ones by embedding some of the decedent's cremains into hand-crafted glass jewelry that they can wear in daily remembrance.
Typical cost: $200 - $400+
  • Grateful Glass: Local Philadelphia artist Matthew Olian has been working with hot glass for the past twenty years. Matt's quest for glassblowing skill has taken him around the world. He has studied at the renowned Studio at Corning Museum of Glass as well as on the storied island of Murano in Italy, where he learned from some of the world's most respected and talented glass artists. gratefulglass.com  

Transform cremains into diamond
The size, clarity, and the color of your diamond will all affect price. In addition, the business that you choose to make the diamond will also have a bearing on price.
Typical cost: $750 (.03 carat mini) - $20K (1 carat blue)
  • Heart in Diamond: Heart In Diamond is the only certified manufacturer to create genuine cremation diamonds at its own laboratory. And they'll match any offer from another certified manufacturer. heart-in-diamond.com  

Embed cremains in a firework
Embed cremains in a firework rocket and shoot it into the night sky. Perfect for Vets on the 4th of July. [NOTE: Fireworks displays do not require a permit on private land but check local ordinances.]
Typical cost: $400 for self-firing rockets - $5,000 for a professionally managed event
  • Heavens Above Fireworks: While some local American companies are beginning to offer this service, the oldest and most well-known are based in the UK. Heavens Above Fireworks offers four (4) self-firing rockets for just $400, shipping not included. heavensabovefireworks.com  

Integrate cremains into a coral reef
Integrate cremains into a coral reef and help support a live maritime garden.
Typical cost: $2K - $7K
  • Eternal Reefs: A Florida-based resource, Eternal Reefs are permanent living legacies that memorialize the passing of a loved one by helping to preserve and protect the marine environment for the benefit of future generations. eternalreefs.com  

Shoot cremains into space
Shoot cremains into space (or, at least, a low orbit so that it spreads across the mantle of the earth).
Typical cost: $750 - $13K
  • Elysium Space: For $2,500 (less than the price of a traditional viewing), you can send your lost loved one's cremains into space on one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. elysiumspace.com  

Green burial of cremains
Bury cremains under a live tree in a local arboretum. For more information on green burial resources in the Greater Philadelphia area, visit the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Pennsylvania .
Typical cost: $1,000+
  • Penn Forest Cemetery: Penn Forest Cemetery offers the following eco-friendly choices: 2'x2' burial of green urns for $600, plus a $500 interment fee, or $1,100. Alternately, you can order a "Treemation", where they plant a tree on top of a buried green urn @ $1,200 all in, including your tree of choice. (Does not include urn or shipping costs.) pennforestcemetery.com  

Scattering at sea
Scatter your loved one's ashes at sea. Some providers also offer unattended scattering option, for families that cannot be there in person.
Typical cost $400+
  • Metamorphosis Boat Charters: Located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Metamorphosis Boat Charters provides scattering at sea services for $450; 40 foot vessel; up to 6 passengers. Unattended services also available for $250; includes digital photos or virtual participation via Skype/Facetime. Seasonal Flowers included. metjourneys.com.  

Since it can often be difficult for those mourning a death to put their feelings into words, flowers can act as an expression of love, comfort, sympathy, and respect. Nothing symbolizes the value of our fleeting lives like flowers. Here today, gone tomorrow, their beauty is eternal. In addition to sending flowers to the funeral service, there is a growing trend to send flowers to the home of the bereaved.
  • To order flowers for your Life Celebration event or to send flowers, we recommend FloristOne.com  

For those who are spiritual or religious, the lily is the flower most commonly associated with funeral services as they symbolize the innocence that has been restored to the soul of the departed.
Gladioli are typically used in fan sprays, which are classic and elegant arrangements for traditional funeral services. Gladioli symbolize strength of character, sincerity, and moral integrity.
Long-lasting and quite fragrant, carnations are a popular choice for sympathy arrangements. Red carnations evoke admiration. Pink carnations represent remembrance. And white carnations stand for pure love and innocence.
Chrysanthemums are frequently included in arrangements for funeral services. In some European countriesFinally, bright yellow spring tulips and daffodils are believed to bring encouragement and hope to a person who is grieving or unhappy, making them a great choice to send to the family home of the departed. Yellow tulips represent cheerfulness. White tulips represent forgiveness. Purple tulips represents royalty. And red tulips represent perfect love.—such as France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary and Croatia—chrysanthemums are symbolic of death and are only used for funerals or on graves. In China, Japan and Korea, white chrysanthemums are symbolic of lamentation and grief. In the US, they symbolize truth. Note, however, that in New Orleans, chrysanthemums are considered bad luck.
Roses are a classic and beautiful choice for funeral arrangements. White roses evoke reverence, humility, innocence, and youthfulness. Red roses convey respect, love, and courage. Pink roses signify love, grace, appreciation, and gentility. Dark crimson roses denote grief and sorrow. Yellow roses are given by friends of the deceased to symbolize strong ties. When you include a single rose in a bouquet, it expresses enduring love for the deceased.
Orchids say "I will always love you". When giving an orchid plant as a gesture of sympathy, it's important to consider their color. Pink and white are traditional colors of sympathy. Phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids are often recommended by florists for their beauty and hardiness.
Sending a seasonal spring plant such as a hydrangea is a nice and appropriate gesture to give to a grieving family. It can be enjoyed indoors and—when they feel up to it—they can plant it in their garden. This hardy plant that will grow in almost any soil that is kept moist, and "mophead" hydrangeas will continue to bloom for many years.
Finally, bright yellow spring tulips and daffodils are believed to bring encouragement and hope to a person who is grieving or unhappy, making them a great choice to send to the family home of the departed. Yellow tulips represent cheerfulness. White tulips represent forgiveness. Purple tulips represents royalty. And red tulips represent perfect love.

  • To order flowers for your Life Celebration event or to send flowers, we recommend FloristOne.com