Cloquet crematoriums offer new way to remember loved ones
Atkins-Northland Funeral Home and Cremation Service, along with sister-business Fur-Ever Loved are now offering Parting Stone, an alternative to ash remains.
CLOQUET — Two local crematoriums have begun offering a unique alternative to traditional ash remains of loved ones in the form of solidified stones through the New Mexico-based company Parting Stone.
Sister businesses Atkins-Northland Funeral Home and Cremation Service and Fur-Ever Loved in Cloquet have added the service to their list of alternative keepsakes since the start of the new year.
“We offer a lot of jewelry and glass paper weight type things, and so this is totally different and it’s a stone,” said Sheila Quiram, administrative assistant at Atkins-Northland. “... It’s an alternative to putting somebody in an urn.”
The stones are created over an approximately six-week-long process that begins with sending a person's ashes to the Parting Stone Lab in Santa Fe, New Mexico in a company-provided collection kit. From there, the ashes are turned into smooth stones through a multi-step solidification process.
“We take the kind of granular form of that ash, and we refine it into a really fine powder. We then turn that material into a kind of clay-like material by adding some water and a small amount of binder, and from that clay-like material the stones are formed,” Parting Stones Founder and CEO Justin Crowe said.
Cremated remains from the average person can make 60-80 stones, Crowe said. The stones can take on various shapes and sizes with a wide range of colors that occur naturally.
“When we open that kiln to see the newly formed remains, we’ve realized that everybody is a different color and texture, and this is unique to the individuals,” Crowe said. “This is something inside of us that is affecting the variations in color and texture. So we’ve seen beautiful honey-yellows, jade greens, lavenders, blues, greens. It’s really amazing.”
Crowe, whose background is in business and art, was inspired to start the company in 2019 after going through the funeral arrangement process for the first time in the wake of his grandfather’s death.
In speaking with others about their own experiences with cremation, Crowe said he saw a common thread of problems centering around ashes.
“They wanted to feel close with their loved one. They wanted to come close with those remains, but they couldn’t,” Crowe said. “I heard stories like, 'I’m embarrassed to have an urn out of Mom' (or) 'I’ve seen too many ash scattering disasters and I’m afraid to scatter them.' 'I’m afraid to look at the ashes because I might see bone fragments.'”
The solid form of remains has helped simplify the process of scattering, along with the issues that can arise in transporting them through TSA checkpoints at airports, which includes a drip-test for remains in ash form.
The volume of stones included in the process also allows for loved ones to share them with others.
“This form of remains is making the remains both more precious and less precious. More precious in a way that you can hold the remains and you can hold them close to you. You can hold your loved one again,” Crowe said. “And less precious in a way that there’s 80 stones, so they’re abundant, and you want to share them with everyone in your family — everyone who’s close to that person to be a tool for grief and healing.”
Currently, Parting Stones are offered at over 600 funeral homes across the United States with a total of 3,700 families utilizing the service.