JOURNEY JOURNAL... St. Petersburg, Florida
A HAPPENING PLACE
A HAPPENING PLACE
The Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home encompasses four facilities – two funeral homes, a crematorium, and a cemetery. This family-owned establishment has incorporated amenities that epitomize finer details. At one of their sites, besides the fresh-baked cookies and Starbucks coffee available for guests, an automated grand piano in the welcoming entry space generates background ambience (perhaps to connote that life goes on even in the absence of "the player"?). At both funeral homes, a room accommodates guests for catered receptions – a service increasingly provided in states where food is permitted in funeral homes. Brightly decorated playrooms are geared toward children’s comfort in a milieu conducive to helping them cope with issues of death.
But certain features stand out from the usual ones. One of their buildings is designed in a square configuration so that all of the rooms face a central aviary full of vivacious and colorful birds. Upon entering what some people might wrongly assume would be a “den of death,” one is struck by their liveliness. When the chapel curtains are open, the aviary is a backdrop for either a commemorative affair or a funeral service with a centrally located casket accentuated symbolically by spirited possibilities beyond demise.
A separate pet crematory and pet hearse complement the human ministrations that are offered, based on acknowledgment that loss of such companions potentially evokes grieving and the need to mourn. A room for visitation and even a memorial service is designed specifically to regard pet loss, with a padded cushion for the animal on an altar up front, a waterfall, relevant wall photos, and comfortable chairs around the perimeter.
Beyond such appointments, though, is the reason why this particular enterprise has drawn the attention of mavericks in the industry as well as consumers. Located within their crematory, equipment for a water-based alternative to flame cremation has been installed and is now operational. Anderson-McQueen took the plunge and is almost the first provider in this country to offer alkaline hydrolysis for humans, seemingly a fast-approaching wave of the future. Approval has been secured in seven states so far, but is pending in fifteen others. Whether this methodology or standard cremation is chosen, guests here can be seated in spaces that face windows for observation. For cremation, they can even begin the incendiary process via a control panel discreetly positioned on the wall.