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Cremation Society of MN – Edina

Interview with Meredith Waterston


How do you make a difference in your family’s lives?

It’s important that we’re the first people to just ‘be’ there to express whatever our families need to express.  Whether they are sad or they are OK, we connect into their emotions, and adapt to their needs and feelings.  We are there in how they want to grieve and how they want to remember.  We are there to be their strength and backbone.  When I get done meeting with a family and I hear, “wow, this was a lot easier than I thought it would be, you made this process so easy and comfortable.”  That is my most rewarding compliment.  People get scared and nervous, if I can make sure they are as calm and comfortable as they can be, they will feel more at peace in this process.  My most grateful feeling is knowing you’re able to make an impact on that persons’ life just by being there in one of their most difficult times in their lives. Death of their loved one happens just once.  If you can make those moments go smoothly and celebrate that persons’ life the way they deserve, whether it’s simple or extravagant, we are able to guide our families and make this a memorable experience.


What got you into this business?

This is my family’s business and my grandpa started it 60 years ago.  He lived above the funeral home and in the 1980’s, started the Cremation Society of Minnesota.  We were never pressured to be in the business, he only wanted us there if it was in our heart – to be the strength for the families. 

I had a passion for children and the elderly and would volunteer at different nursing homes and special education.  I fulfilled a degree in teaching and during the long break times, I asked my dad if I could work part-time at the funeral home.  I loved to visit and talk with people and thought, “why am I not doing this every day?”  One day, after becoming certified as a Funeral Director, I went to my first home for a family member who had passed away.   I remember that feeling of me taking their loved one out.  The family walked out with us, they touched the back of our car and they didn’t want to let go.  We inched along with them holding on to the back of the car.  An overwhelming feeling came over me and my immediate thought was “I’m glad that I’m doing this.”   My dad told me, not everyone will have experiences the way that we do.  He said you will have moments like this…so much love that the family couldn’t let go of the car. 

This was our calling.  We experience all parts - family, children, friends… helping to explain to a child about their mom dying, dealing with grandpa’s death for the first time.  It is an honor to be asked to take care of their most precious loved one. 


What do you want people to know in order to prepare for this part of life?

What’s your plan, what do you want? It’s important for loved ones and their families to know if they want cremation, burial, or a cemetery.  As difficult as it is, it makes it so much more comfortable for the family to know.  It is harder during grief to know what mom or dad wanted.

Maybe they can’t approach this right away but they can think about it.  They might be more comfortable to share it with staff where they are living, or their friends – to express their wishes.  I enjoy doing a panel with other funeral homes.  I bring a pamphlet, they can sit down at a table, talk and ask follow up questions – something more informal.  I call it “The scary questions you’re afraid to ask.” 


Article written by:
Beth Woodward, Director of Marketing
Augustana Regent at Burnsville