Families find complimentary final resting place for ashes at Larkin’s ScatterdayNov 30, 2020 03:20PM ● By Heather Lawrence
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
When Ruth Pratt, the mother of Sandy resident Brian Minnich, passed away in 2019, she had made her wishes to be cremated clear. Pratt had not lived in Utah long, so there wasn’t a place to scatter her ashes that she was particularly attached to. Minnich scattered some ashes in various places, but in the end, he held on to most of them, unsure where her final resting place should be.
“She definitely wanted to be cremated, but there were no instructions for her remains. She loved to travel, loved art – she was open to anything. But the only place in Utah that reminded us of her was the assisted living center where she died, and we didn’t like that,” Minnich said.
When Minnich and his wife Dotti Gallagher heard about the free Scatterday event at Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy on Oct. 17, they registered and came to see if it felt right.
“We drive by this cemetery almost every day. We think it’s lovely to live close by the cemetery —it’s quiet and spiritual. We were just talking a couple of weeks ago about what we should do with mom’s ashes, then we opened the Sandy Journal and saw the ad about Scatterday,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher, who recently suffered the loss of her own mother from COVID, saw the Scatterday as the answer they’d been searching for. “We’ve had her [ashes] for a long time, and this felt right. Now we can drive by every day and say, ‘Hi Mom’ and it’s a beautiful place that makes us think of her,” Gallagher said.
Larkin associate Steve Kehl was in charge of the first Scatterday at Larkin’s Salt Lake City location in 2019. He said the response was “tremendous,” and got them thinking they needed to do the same thing at the Sandy location, and make it an annual event.
“What’s amazing is to look at the death dates of how long the family members have held on to these urns. They may have had them for 20 or more years. The average was four to five years. They need a final resting place,” Kehl said.
“More families are choosing cremation now, but they want just the right place for the disposition of the ashes. They didn’t have that conversation with their loved one—what do you want done with your ashes? It can be a paralyzing decision,” Kehl said.
Larkin designed a new garden just for the remains of people who have been cremated. It is in the Garden of Atonement area, on the north side of the cemetery near Dimple Dell Road. They have created an underground ossuary which can hold a certain number of remains. All the names, birth years and death years of those in the ossuary will be engraved on a granite epitaph.
“Cremation is an option, and we made an area for remains that’s integrated within the memorial park. It’s not off to the side or an afterthought. It’s a small garden with a water feature and plants. It’s a physical space to come and reflect and think of your loved one,” Kehl said.
Aside from the free Scatterday, space in the ossuary begins at $295, which is much less than a traditional burial plot. “There are numerous options and cost sensitive price points to fulfill the wishes of loved ones. Not everyone chooses cremation because of cost, but many do. We wanted to be sensitive to that,” Kehl said.
For questions about those services, Kehl said to check the website at www.larkinmortuary.com or call Larkin Sunset Gardens at 801-571-2771.
Kehl said he hopes that when people know about their ossuary or memorial stone options, it will save indecision down the road. “I got a call from a storage park in Lindon a while ago. They were going through an abandoned storage unit and found an urn in there with ashes. They had no idea what to do with them. The death year on the urn was 2008.
“We don’t want people’s remains to be left in closets or attics or storage units indefinitely. We want to offer a final resting place that’s peaceful. We want families who have been carrying these ashes around to feel a sense of relief,” Kehl said.