Heart Keepsake Cremation Urns Honor the Heart’s Powerful Dimensions
by Jerri Haaven
The recent news of Carrie Fisher’s death was jolting. Many felt an additional shudder only one day later when her legendary mom, Debbie Reynolds, died. The mother and daughter were especially close in recent years. And the proximity of death raises the question, did Ms. Reynolds die of a broken heart?
Chances are she did. Dr. Ilan Wittstein spoke to The New York Times and said thousands of cases exist for what is known as broken heart syndrome, or takotsubo syndrome. Indeed, there is a connection – quite separate from cardiovascular disease - between the heart and death.
The early Egyptians believed the heart was the source of emotions, wisdom, memory, soul, and even their personality. In symbolic form, the heart was illustrated as a vase with handles. The “handles” depicted the veins and vessels of the organ. Today, we know through simple anatomy that those “handles” pump life-giving blood and oxygen throughout our body. The Egyptians realized the connection between the heart, life, death, and eternal life.
Today across cultures, the heart symbolizes love. I remember when my mom would close correspondence to my young children with a heart and an arrow through it, and simply “Gram” next to it. The reality is, we haven’t strayed far from what the early Egyptians knew. The heart connects us to our soul and to our emotions.
The powerful, yet gentle symbol of a heart provides a source of strength. The prevalent phrase, “love conquers all,” comes to mind. Kindness, compassion, and a deep and enduring love for those close to us are also captured within the realm of a heart’s symbolism.
When my dad died, I felt the need to honor our closeness and deeply felt emotions. I selected a cremation heart urn like the “Going Home Heart” cremation keepsake to store a portion of his ashes. The keepsake urn captures the enduring love we shared, even while he’s no longer in physical form.
The nice thing about keepsake urns is that they are small in stature (about 3 inches tall). They hold about 3 cubic inches of ash. Our previous blog, Transferring Ashes to a Cremation Urn, provides helpful information when the time comes. The cremated ash can be added by your cremation service provider. Alternately, you can add it through the opening in the back and securely fasten it. Most heart keepsake urns come with a stand as shown with the Trinity Pearl Cremation Heart. The stand allows an urn to be displayed on a shelf or bureau in the home.
I vividly recall the day I received my dad’s ashes. I remember holding that lovely heart urn in my hand, and gently folding my fingers around it – as if to hold him close to my heart. Being able to do that whenever I feel the need – especially on a cold snowy day like today – is comforting. It’s also easier in spontaneous moments than driving to the cemetery where most of his ashes are buried.
The heart’s power
Research continues to reveal powerful dimensions of the heart. We hear more stories about broken heart syndrome, including the phenomenon of long-time married spouses dying on the same day, or within moments of one another. In August 2016, CNN reported the story of a couple who were married for 63 years. They spent their final moments clutching each other’s hands tightly before dying just 20 minutes apart in the nursing home where they lived. In 2014 former NFL star Doug Flutie lost both of his parents. When his ill father died, his mom died one hour later from a sudden and unexpected heart attack.
The official diagnosis of broken heart syndrome is called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is sudden intense chest pain because of a surge of hormones that can be brought on by an emotional event. As strong as this vital organ is, it is also fragile when it comes to “matters of the heart.”
Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.