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While the majority of grieving Wilsonians opt for traditional funerals, a growing number want to cremate a loved one, but the lack of a crematory in the county often meant services had to be delayed several days.
“Years ago, we had to carry everyone to Raleigh, then Knightdale got a crematorium,” said Dell Joyner, president of Joyner’s Funeral Home. “Goldsboro put one in and a lot of people started using them.”
Goldsboro has four crematoriums while Rocky Mount, Nashville and Farmville each have one. On Thursday, Joyner’s installed Wilson’s first human crematorium and starting in September, the Raleigh Road Parkway business will add cremation to the list of local services.
Joyner said it usually takes three days to take remains to Nashville and have them returned to conduct services for the family.
“We have people who want a traditional funeral, so they’ll use a rented casket for the visitation and service before having the remains cremated. If a family wanted to have a funeral one night, we won’t have to wait three days to do the burial,” he said. “Because I can control when the cremation is done, we could do a funeral that night, have one of our staff do the cremation overnight and have a graveside service the next day if need be. If I’m working with another crematory, I have to work around their schedule, but now I can better serve Wilson and the surrounding area.”
Joyner’s Funeral Home averages six funerals a week with about 35 to 40% involving cremation. Joyner said families can spend around $8,500 for a funeral when factoring in the embalming, casket, vault service, grave opening, a hearse to the cemetery and such. In contrast, cremation alone is around $2,000.
“The biggest thing with cremation is the documentation that is required,” he said. “You can bury someone without a signed death certificate but you can’t with cremains because cremation is the ‘permanent disposition of the body.’”
He said he will offer cremation services to other funeral homes throughout the area, but he installed the crematorium mostly to care for his customers.
“Some cultures want to be present when cremation is done, so we can better serve them,” Joyner said. “And for families who want a traditional service before cremation, we want to be able to offer that sooner. It is a long time for the family if you’ve got to wait six or seven days after someone dies, so we want to be able to offer this service so the family can move on.”
The cremation process takes roughly two hours at 1,700 degrees. There is some preparation work required as pacemakers and other medical devices have to be removed before it can begin.
“Once you bring the cremains out, they are put through a processor to make everything into a small powder,” Joyner said. “They are about five or six pounds and usually fit within a 6-by-6-by-6 box.”
And the environmental implications are null.
“From the exterior of the building, you’ll see no signs it is even on,” he said. “There is no smoke. The only thing is you might see a heat signature in the air.”
The crematory is one part of the business’s new 4,000 square-foot addition that includes new vehicle bays and a freezer that can hold up to 10 bodies.
“Because the hospital only has room for three in the morgue, we will be a backup holding facility for Wilson County,” Joyner said. “It is not about the money. It is about looking after the families, and this project helps us better look after families.”