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Parting Stones

Baldwin Brothers Funeral & Cremation Society first in Florida to offer alternative for cremated remains

June 5, 2020
By KATIE EGAN ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Baldwin Brothers Funeral & Cremation Society is the first in Florida to offer an alternative to cremated remains.

The touchable form of "solidified remains" was developed by Parting Stone. It's a clean, comfortable and meaningful alternative to conventional ashes.

The stone-like solidified remains can be touched, held, shared or memorialized.

Article Photos


Parting Stones, right, are created from cremated remains, left.

Baldwin Brothers, which has been serving families in Florida for more than 40 years, launched solidified remains before the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, they've seen a handful of sales.

"One of the secondary measures we put in place is for families to make as many virtual arrangements as possible," said Evans Baldwin, vice president of Baldwin Brothers. "Being new, it's kind of difficult to tell people about it, especially when we're trying to get through our regular portion of services and get regular ashes to families."

Launching a new product in this industry can be a challenge. Burial choices don't change very often and people may not be aware of the new option.

President Skip Knopke says about seven out of 10 people who pass away in Florida are cremated.

But 10, 15, 30 years ago, that number was much less.

Cremation is becoming more popular because it costs less and it's more ecological. It doesn't use up as much cemetery space, and fluids, such as formaldehyde that are used in embalming, are not put into the ground.

"One of the great reasons that folks have to change from burial to cremation is convenience," Knopke said. "When someone dies and they have to be buried, that should occur in the next few days, it requires the family to gather and all of those things in today's society that simply aren't always viewed today as possible."

"With cremation, you have time to deicide what you want to do and when," he said. "There is no pressure of time."

Knopke also says people have developed a pattern of holding ashes for extended periods of time.

If they've been holding on to a loved one's ashes for a while, there is now an option to turn them into solidified remains.

"They may not really be ready to confront the physicality of the ashes," Knopke said. "Parting stones changes all of that. Now people can feel comfortable handling those remains. Many people physically relate to stones in a way they couldn't relate to ashes themselves."

Baldwin hopes to see a higher take up on parting stones once more people become more aware of them.

In the average family, someone passes away about every seven years.

"It's a very infrequent purchase and decision making process," Knopke said. "It's difficult to become knowledgeable about it."

There are over 15 Baldwin Brothers locations. Two of them are local: at 1605 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers and 3323 North Key Drive, No. 8, in North Fort Myers.

"Memorialization and celebration of a loved one's life is an important aspect of creating peace of mind for a family," Baldwin said. "Families are more mobilized today, and each family member wants a way to carry that loved one's legacy on in a convenient and meaningful way."

It costs $599 for the solidification of the actual stones in addition to everything needed to perform a simple cremation, which is $895.

"It's a pretty big jump up in terms of basic price," Baldwin said. "I'm hoping that as the volume and awareness increase, it hopefully drives the price down."

A basic simple cremation includes everything needed for someone to transfer people into care within 75 miles of Baldwin Brothers' facilities, paperwork, permitting, obtaining a death certificate, having the cremation performed and ensuring the proper ashes goes to the right family.

Knopke says the average cremation takes seven business days until the ashes are returned to the family.

Once they receive the ashes, it takes about six weeks to have them turned into stones.

The process has slowed down a little bit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Knopke hopes for that six-week timeframe to be cut in half once things get back to normal.

Following the death of his grandfather, Parting Stone founder Justin Crowe realized living with conventional cremated remains could feel uncomfortable.

"We believe that cremation should be more than just a convenient form of disposition," Crowe said. "It is a profound opportunity to live with the remains of our loved ones, but conventional cremated remains can make that experience messy and unpleasant. We hope that solidified remains will allow people to form meaningful connections with their departed long after they are gone."

A 100-pound person results in about 35 individual "stones" ranging from thumbnail-size up to palm-size.

Parting Stones come in a packaged outer container and a wooden box with a top that slides off. Inside of the box is a burlap sack that contains the stones.

There are also a number of little burlap sacks designed to hold one or two stones so customers can treat them like a type of worry stone.

The colors of the stones vary by the makeup of what's in each individual's bones. Typically they come out milky white.

"This ability to take actual ashes and make them so tangible is, we think, really an inflection point," Baldwin said.

Knopke says it's become very common in recent years to divide ashes into smaller containers as keepsake urns and distribute them among family members or separate the ashes and scatter them in important places.

"But it's always been a sort of clumsy way of doing it," he said. "Things that hold ashes are very traditional. They look like something that came out of Roman times."

Now, people have another - more tangible - option.



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