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"We were taught, as infants, to say 'hello' and 'goodbye'"

Vernie R. Fountain, Fountain National Academy
Interview - Undertaking the Podcast (2018)

Saying Goodbye is Important...

The human race has, for millennia, faced death by caring for our dead. However, in today's modern culture, phrases such as "its just a shell" or "they're not there anymore" are often used to describe the earthly remains of those who have died. While both statements may be factually true at their core, intellectually and emotionally speaking, the body that remains is still the physical representation on this earth of someone who was loved and offered love to others.

That is why it is important to consider all of the options available for your family to say goodbye, including a private family viewing, a public viewing/visitation and having your loved one's body present at their service before the cremation occurs.

At Johnston & Williams, our goal is to help educate your family on these options and give you and your family the proper foundation to be able to cope, heal and begin the process of moving forward.

Researching Cremation Providers...

For the last 100 years, when burial was the preferred choice of disposition for most families, there was no question as to how your loved one would be cared for when you called upon the services of a funeral director. Loved ones were brought back to the funeral home, embalmed, dressed and placed in a casket for viewing, funeral services and burial in a cemetery. In other words, the basic standards of care for those who were buried were, and for the most part still are, universal across the vast majority of funeral homes.

However, over the past 50 years, as cremation has grown from the exception (less than 5% in 1960) to the norm (about 75% locally in 2019), many things have changed. The focus has shifted away from the actual body itself and more to the celebration of the life lived. We consider both equally important to the healing process and one should not take precedence over the other.  To us, caring for both the family's needs and the professional care of the loved one that has been entrusted to our care are both of paramount importance.

In a culture driven by convivence, cost efficiency and depersonalization, it is important to us that we affirm to families who cremate their loved ones that they care just as deeply for them as families who select burial.  We take seriously the great trust placed in us in the handling and supervision of the cremation process and believe that is the daily enforcement of our protocols that sets us apart from the vast majority of funeral homes and cremation providers in our area.

If your loved one passes away and you are choosing cremation as the final disposition, whether you call upon our services or not, we strongly encourage you to be as scrupulous as possible in your investigation of cremation options and providers.

Some are better than others.  

Ask exactly how your loved one will be handled from the very beginning to the very end of the cremation process and then compare it, along with prices, to our Standards of Care.  This is a question worth asking and one that we believe demands a thorough answer.

Our Standards of Care...

It is important to remember that the practices and protocols of how your loved one is cared for can vary widely between funeral homes and cremation providers.  When researching your options, consider not only the price of the service being offered, but the value of what your family will receive with it.  

Johnston & Williams Funeral Home is the only funeral provider in Kittitas County with an on-site crematory located within the county. Your family can take comfort in knowing that, from the time we initially transfer your loved one into our care until the time we return the cremated remains to you, your loved one never leaves our facility in Ellensburg.

Our Standards of Care for handling and supervising the cremation process for families who call upon our services include:

  • Basic care of your loved one including bathing, washing of hair and ensuring that your loved one's mouth and eyes are closed properly so that a natural and respectful appearance is restored.  
  • Your loved one will be dressed in clothing provided by your family or in a clean hospital gown prior to cremation.
  • One hour of private viewing time for immediate family members to say goodbye.  This private time is offered at no additional charge with our cremation options that do not include embalming.
  • If your loved one was a Veteran, we will drape their cremation container with the United States flag to which they are entitled.  Before placement into the cremation chamber, we play Taps and then fold the flag to prepare it to be returned to your family.  A flag that is ready to be retired is then draped over the cremation container to be cremated with your loved one.
  • Should you desire, your immediate family (up to 5 people) and/or your family's pastor, priest or other religious leader may be present with the funeral director at the start of the cremation to offer a prayer before the cremation is started. There is no charge from the funeral home for this service, however it is customary for the family to offer a small honorarium to the pastor/priest for doing so.  

What Options Are Available?

Cremation should be thought of as an alternative to casketed burial in a cemetery, not as an alternative to ceremony.  Many people believe that if their loved one is going to be cremated, they won't have the opportunity to hold a viewing or have their loved one's body present at a service.  Both of those beliefs couldn't be further from the truth.

There are many options available to families who select cremation, including:

  • Traditional style service with viewing and the body present at the service, followed by cremation;
  • Holding a viewing/visitation followed by cremation so the urn would be present at the service;
  • Holding a viewing/visitation and then taking the urn home following cremation;
  • Utilizing the private time to say goodbye offered to immediate family before a direct cremation;
  • A simple cremation without viewing or ceremony
No matter what your family decides, we are able to accommodate your specific requests to help you through the days following the loss of a loved one and get you on the path to healing.  Remember, everyone grieves differently but there are no shortcuts to grief.  We want your family to make a fully educated decision about the options available to you.

Always Available...

If you're unsure about what arrangements might be best for your family to say goodbye, know that we are always a phone call or email away.  We encourage you to reach out to us at 509-925-3141 or via email at info@johnston-williams.com to discuss your options.  

We pledge to answer your questions and offer our guidance in an open, honest and forthright manner so that you can make the right choice for you and your family.


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