Local cemetery faces unexpected challenge as trends change

Brad Carlson

The challenge, Carlson said, is talking to people about memorializing the life of the cremated individual in a similar way as people who are buried with a traditional funeral and casketed burial.

“Instead of what’s called a direct cremation, we suggest to people that there are ways to memorialize and also celebrate the life that was lived: to have a service, to have an embalming and viewing, and then cremation afterwards,” he said.

Evolving with the market trends, Evergreen Memorial Gardens has turned part of their 80-acre property into a scatter garden. This provides a space where families can empty an urn around a center monument dedicated to the deceased loved one.

“It’s a place for future generations to go,” said Carlson. “Instead of saying ‘Oh, I don’t know where Grandma is. She was cremated and her remains are in someone’s garage somewhere.’”

Carlson feels strongly about the subject. He remembers being contacted by the Salvation Army when two urns were found after being donated to the organization, complete with deceased remains still inside. He contacted the nearest relative he could find and was met with shock. They immediately set up a proper memorial service.

Despite industry challenges, Evergreen Memorial Gardens is growing. Through the acquisition of a second funeral home about a decade ago (Evergreen Staples Funeral Home), Evergreen is involved with the afterlife services of more people year over year.

“Not all of those have a funeral service,” Carlson said. “The cemetery stays fairly consistent in terms of how many casketed burials and cremated remains that are buried.”

Allowing people the space to mourn and grieve the loss of their loved one is a key function of Carlson’s Evergreen Memorial Gardens.

“Our goal is to offer the best services possible to families that have had a loss,” said Carlson. “When they’ve experienced a death, it’s one of the most difficult things that we face day in and day out. You can’t be callous to that.”

Since its founding in 1952, Evergreen Memorial Gardens has made it a priority to give back to the community that it serves. Many of the company’s 33 employees serve on boards of local nonprofits and the company donates to local causes.

“The residents of Clark County have opened their hearts to us when they’ve had a loss in their family,” Carlson said. “And it’s important for us to give back.”

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