JOURNEY JOURNAL... Columbus, Ohio
A NEW WAVE
A NEW WAVE
The modest building for Edwards Funeral Service appears rather ordinary on the outside. But the exterior belies the modern and progressive outlook the owner, Jeff Edwards, has adopted. He assumed a pioneer role by earmarking this funeral facility as the first in the United States to offer a new and burgeoning alternative to cremation.
Alkaline hydrolysis, identified also by varying labels, is akin to the cremation process in some ways, but water (infused with an alkaline agent) rather than fire is employed to effect bodily dissolution. It entails use of a stainless steel machine slightly comparable to a cremation chamber, or retort, and the residual remains are somewhat similar to the residual bodily substance derived from cremation. However, absence of environmental contaminants is the benefit that distinguishes this method and renders it a desirable alternative.
The equipment for this service was installed and operated, but it has been dormant for quite a while. After obtaining permits from the Board of Health, the process, presented here as “aquamation,” was completed nineteen times before operations came to a grinding halt. A lawsuit with the State of Ohio and the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers coupled with religious misperceptions presented an obstacle that is yet to be resolved, pending legislative approval. Meanwhile, until Ohio follows suit with several other states that have adopted laws sanctioning this procedure, the Edwards facility still offers it, but through an affiliation with a provider in Illinois, must transport bodies there at added expense and considerable travel time.