In February 2016, Urns In Style conducted an exclusive interview with one of our customers, Ms. Maryrose Forsyth, who had commissioned us to create a truly one-of-a-kind, “design your own” custom memorial urn, Planet Pluto. She created it for herself AND as a wedding gift to her husband. Read this story to learn about her unique journey and insights on vast topics, ranging from funeral pre-planning, why a cremation urn as a wedding gift, to how to come up with a personalized theme for a memorial urn. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
UIS: Hi Maryrose! Thank you for talking to us today. I hope you and Peter had a great time on your honeymoon at Disneyland.
Maryrose: Yes, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. They really cater to newlyweds and we enjoyed every minute of it! My new husband Peter and I got to act like kids again…. although we are really, really both close to approaching 60! Who can ask for more than that? I am sure we will be back again soon… where else do we get to ignore our real age???
UIS: That’s so wonderful! To begin our interview, we would like you to take us all the way back to when you originally started the process of pre-planning your own memorial. Tell us what motivated you to take care of your own funeral and how the overall process went.
Maryrose: Well, to be perfectly frank, it is because I have been involved with many families involving death, funerals and not being prepared. Sad to say, this included my own family. I was always the one people turned to when they lost loved ones, and they frequently asked me to help them when their loved ones died.
UIS: How did you become the person people turned to for help?
Maryrose: I guess because my life-long careers were teaching and real estate. They are “helping careers”… So, I think people thought I would of course know what to do when they lost a precious loved one. I would often be asked to do a eulogy or say a prayer or help them pick out a funeral plot or plan the whole thing.
UIS: How would you describe what people have to go through, when having to plan a funeral and all decisions on many aspects after someone passes?
Maryrose: For the most part, these decisions were almost always made when families were in deep sorrow and often done in haste. When one is in intense grief and has not prepared for the death of a loved one, I believe they often make decisions based on immediate need and not one they would have made in a more “peaceful state” when their loved one was still alive. The common theme here is… “What would they have wanted?” Unless their precious family member or friend made that decision in their living years… It was all a guess and often done with tears and sadness.
UIS: What do you think you’ve learned from your experience?
Maryrose: At a very young age, I thought… “Why would anyone leave their funeral to someone else to plan? We are ALL GOING TO PASS AWAY… some people get by with not paying taxes... But THIS is something, no matter how hard we try, we are not going to avoid! So, for me, WHY NOT DO THIS? It is a win-win for everyone.
UIS: Why do you think planning for a funeral a “win-win” for everyone?
Maryrose: It is probably the kindest act you can do for your loved ones in your final goodbye. That way, they can concentrate on your life, not your death. No matter what the circumstances are, they can think about all the things that really mattered about your life, not about the stresses both financially and emotionally. Your loved ones can concentrate on YOU!
UIS: Tell us why you chose cremation.
Maryrose: Well, even though I grew up Catholic and my husband grew up in the Jewish faith, we talked about what would make sense for us. These faiths, however different, were not fond of cremation. We preferred being above ground and the process of our bodies turning to ashes aided quickly by the burning process. My Mother was laid to rest in a Mausoleum near-by and we wanted to be near her.
UIS: Any other reasons behind cremation?
Maryrose: Cremation seems modern, and shall I dare say less dramatic than a casket? It seems the right thing to do for us. Also, Peter and I liked the idea of having our ashes in one urn together and on display. Something people could look at for years to come, and get a sense of “us.”
UIS: How did you pre-plan for your own passing and that of your fiancé?
Maryrose: Well, the first step was to pick a funeral home. I picked one near our house and a family owned business that was around for years. I attended many funerals there, and always thought they did a professional job. I had done this many years ago, and when I met Peter, I encouraged him to do the same.
UIS: Why did you feel that was important to him?
Maryrose: Because his family is in New York, I knew this would be essential to having some sense of peace if Peter were to predecease me. That way, no matter what family member wanted to do something else for Peter and his final resting place, I knew having it done by Peter, would simplify EVERYTHING!
UIS: Is it possible to avoid a conflict or stress among those who are left behind?
Maryrose: Yes, and there is nothing like KNOWING and DOING what your loved one actually wanted. Imagine the peace!!! You can’t argue with that. You see, many fights, disagreements and arguments happen when each individual’s loved one loses someone they love… EVERYONE has an opinion and this is NOT the time to express it! Pre-planning stops this. Again, loved ones can focus on their love for the deceased, not the lack of preparation.
UIS: So how did you and Peter come to a decision about your own choices?
Maryrose: It came time for talking about a niche at the Mausoleum where my Mother was. Peter and I found a perfectly lit corner space that we loved… it would fit double ashes as well. We purchased that niche.
UIS: Once you decided on a place to be interred, what was next?
Maryrose: Last but not least, we looked through book after book after book and could not find a unique urn…, One that would be meaningful for both of us and fit in the space! So, the journey began…
UIS: How did you come up with the idea of giving your fiancé a custom cremation urn as a wedding gift? It is such a creative idea!
Maryrose: Well, I thought and thought and thought about it. Who would give such a wedding gift to their husband??? I WOULD! And I knew he would love it. Because we had MANY discussions about our death and believe in an afterlife, this is not a subject that we avoid. We plan for the inevitable. Peter and I believe we will end up together in a place (our version of heaven) called Planet Mapet. . It’s a combination of both our names together.
UIS: Yes, Mapet… It is mentioned in the inscription on your urn.
Maryrose: And since I wasn’t finding anything on the Internet, I Googled unique urns, and I FINALLY came across URNS IN STYLE
UIS: When we connected for the very firs time, we recalled that you were interested in a custom urn using one of our glass studios. Tell us how you made a giant leap from a glass urn to, let’s say, Planet Pluto!
Maryrose: Well, I just didn’t know… I have been an artist that has worked with canvas and acrylics… but I never worked with glass. I wasn’t sure what could be created. Peter and I were apart most of the summer due to work, and had seen the images of Pluto coming back to us on the earth, and when we talked about it long distance, the first thing we both noticed was the “heart” on the planet. We laughed and thought that would be close to what our perfect planet Mapet would look like. So… “aaahaaa” moment started for me. I dropped a quick email to URNS IN STYLE, not really expecting, but hoping that someone could duplicate Planet Pluto and make it a perfect size and a perfect replica and fit our ashes together. By the way, it is a Catholic cemetery and they demand that the ashes be side by side and have separate pour spouts! No hanky panky after death, I guess!
UIS: (Laughing), yes, we vividly recall that particular request!
Maryrose: Anyway, I wasn’t sure if ANYONE could do such a specific, random, difficult request. Well, in a few days, I got a response from Urns In Style, and they said they had done many “out-of-the-box” requests like this and could do a custom urn. In talking to them, I quickly learned about the “no limitations”... using ceramic material. I was thrilled! The choice was easy then. My decision was made! The company could pretty much make anything I wanted in ceramic. Pluto… full speed ahead!
UIS: When you started thinking about more specifics for the cremation urn for yourself and Peter, what were the most important aspects required for the entire process of creating a custom urn for you?
Maryrose: Well, I really needed to have someone that would listen to me, work with me, and make changes as I requested. Also, I wanted a person that would communicate with the artists to get the specific urn I wanted. The urn needed to meet the standard of the mausoleum we selected, size etc. And, these people needed to communicate with the individuals at the cemetery… my vision needed to match their vision.
UIS: Can you describe your experience throughout the process of creating Planet Pluto?
Maryrose: Urns In Style was so professional. Since I was in Arizona, and they were in Illinois, everything needed to be communicated online. They first sent their original drawing/draft, and we “tweaked” it from there. Colors, size, base, shape, degree of light ... well, EVERYTHING was discussed. When they made a rough ceramic of Planet Pluto, we changed that as needed, too. It was never a problem, to make any and all changes, until I was satisfied! They even communicated with my councilor at the Mausoleum to obtain their approval for the design and dimensions for my urn. I wish every company would be this accommodating!
UIS: Well, we really appreciate your compliment, and helping you create what you dreamed of was a great pleasure and honor, Maryrose. How would you describe the outcome?
Marries: What a perfect, romantic wedding gift for Peter. We will appreciate the “art of it” in our home for many years…,but no matter what happens, we would have it ready when the time comes… NO STRESS. Just a beautiful, MEANINGFUL and romantic art-piece for us. It was WIN, WIN, WIN!!!!!
UIS: Can you share with us the exact moment you showed the Pluto urn to Peter? What was his reaction like?
Maryrose: I gave it to him late evening on our wedding day! We were talking about our day, and I took out this wrapped up box. I told him I hoped he would like this special gift and that many people worked hard on it. As he got closer, he saw the Urns in Style on the package, and he said…”Oh my…. is this what I think it is?” When he opened it up, he could not believe it! He thought it was perfect, thoughtful and BEAUTIFUL! He hoped we had many years together before we needed to use it, but he said it would make a great art piece in the meantime! It was a lovely moment that we both shall remember, and hopefully gives us peace, both in the living moments and after!!!!!!
UIS: That’s so touching. Ok, before wrapping up our interview… is there anything you’d like to add?
Maryrose: Please, please, please know that, if my experience helps anyone pre-plan for the inevitable day, I will be happy. Ever since I was a young girl, my Mother would bring me to funerals. I grew accustomed to death and I saw no problem with it. Then, when I helped people with death of their loved ones, the BIGGEST problem was not the death, but the lack of planning. Get it done and off your mind. Whether you admit it or not, it is on your mind… trust me!
UIS: And how does creating your own cremation urn relate to planning for the future?
Maryrose: Can you imagine creating an art-piece that you will enjoy and have for as long as you have here on earth to enjoy??? Peter and I have that pleasure. And when the time comes, I hope whichever one of us is left behind, will breathe, smile and even enjoy the celebration of our life. Why not? We will have planned for this! Sure makes it easier and it’s a way to honor our love!!!! Our other loved ones will have peace of mind as well….
UIS: Thank you, Maryrose, for your time talking to us and sharing such a personal and inspirational story. We are honored to be your source in creating a truly special memorial urn for you and Peter.