Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spirits Soaring: Consider Aerial Release of Cremated Remains

Like most who coincidentally learn of the service (I saw the truck in a parking lot,) I was curious to visit the website of this business...and then, I was curious to meet its founder, Greg.


...a simple mission with a huge impact:

“to help you gain closure in your life by releasing your Angel's-Ashes from our aircraft over a location that is dear to you or your loved one. Our aerial ash release service is the perfect way to memorialize a loved one and celebrate their free spirit. Our aerial releases are controlled and conducted with the utmost respect and dignity for your loved one.”

What draws people to Angel's-Ashes?

Greg has heard their stories, which have a common thread. “Sometimes, people don’t know what to do with the ashes of a loved one. Years can pass and still, there are the ashes…” They may be in the original box from the crematory or in an urn but, sitting on a shelf, in a closet, something feels unfinished.
And one day, it happens for someone:
"I saw your truck and it was meant to be!"
[author photo]

What draws Greg to offer Angel's-Ashes services?

Greg has been a pilot since serving in the U.S. Air Force. He crews with an airline, volunteers with the student motivational program, Wright Flight, and has flown regional and Grand Canyon tours, Civil Air Patrol, law enforcement support, and he's even towed a few banners! “I was just 15 at my first loss--my mom, Edwina; it was pretty tough. Every loss is personal and unique, and everybody handles loss differently. But no matter how you cope, it can be isolating.” Greg mentioned the commonly used funeral poem, 'I’m Not There (Do Not Stand at My Grave'). “I feel blessed to offer my flying skills to truly facilitate ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust.’ When cremated remains are released aerially, it’s a powerful metaphor for releasing the spirit.”

Is It Expensive?

An aerial release can be arranged for about $300; that’s less than the price of a basic urn.“This is a passion over profit endeavor,” comments Greg. “It takes a lot of time.” His work includes meeting with a family to learn about the deceased and the places special to them. Cremated remains are received (in person or by shipment,) and then Greg plans the flight and conducts the release.

Where and How are Cremated Remains Released?

Greg had the privilege to serve one Arizona family who loved the open desert and mountain trails. A plan and date was made for aerial release over their extensive private property. “While normal flight is at an altitude of least 2,000 feet, I was able to fly lower because it was private property. A gathering of fifty friends and family watched as the essence of their dear one was united forever, with the desert. Aerial releases are unique and individualized. What was her favorite view? Which canyon did he love to hike? “I’ve done releases of the mixed cremated remains of a husband and wife who died within a week of each other, and an owner and his cherished pet.”
[Source: Angel's Ashes]

Greg continued, “Airspace is free and cremated remains are sterile. A release doesn’t have to be witnessed. It’s a very simple process. My airplane’s cockpit has a custom-designed and fitted special panel, with a pipe that is connected to a secure valve. When the valve is open, the cremated remains are sucked out from their container. There is no blow-back-- which could happen if they were simply poured from an open window. As I 'trail' the release, a soft dispersal of the powder-like ashes occurs. If desired, I provide a family with a keepsake certificate."

Why the dash between Angel's-Ashes?

Meeting Greg reminded me of the expression, “still waters run deep.” He has a steady peace about him; the kind that comes from hard-won self awareness. I asked Greg what words have inspired and guided him and his response was immediate: “The book, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and the quote, “It's not what happens to you in life that matters; what matters is how you deal with it!” (this quote is attributed to author, Terry Riley.) Greg acknowledged, “Everyone meets forks in the road; what choice you make each time, is significant.” He continued,
“I’ve been around the world 30 times and never saw a hearse with a luggage rack.”
"The ‘dash’ in my company name signifies what each person does with their unique life--you only get one! How do you help and impact other people? You’re probably familiar with that famous eulogy poem by Linda Ellis, The Dash. Angel's-Ashes enables each sunset to become an ongoing memorial.”

Choices:  Life, Death, Eternity

[Author photo]
Aerial release isn’t for every family. Some want to visit a niche or grave. Some want to wear cremated remains in a locket or house a lovely urn at home. Many families picking up ashes from the funeral home, have shared plans for a scattering trip to cottage, home state, and favorite spots in between. Likewise, some cremated remains can be retained and the rest released. All the more reason to have those important conversations!  

To learn more about aerial release, visit www.angels-ashes.com or use search term: aerial release of cremated remains.

Thank you for caring!

No comments: