I started my small online business in September of 2014. I was worried, frustrated, and somewhat confused about selling my handmade crosses online. I survived the first year and have enjoyed ever year since. The best part for me is the creative part of business. Unfortunately the other “stuff” (ie; finances, social media, marketing, shopping, ok maybe not shopping since it’s fun too) all come with the job. I have learned so much and have never been as frustrated with myself all at the same time. So much of what I have learned is from customers, other sites, competition, and trial and error.
I try to learn new ways of creating because I want to improve on my product and make the buying experience enjoyable for my customers. Today I took a trip down memory lane and looked over my past catalog. Yes, it took an hour. I have sold over 5000 crosses since my start in late 2014 and have made no two alike. My crosses are 100% one of a kind
So as I’m looking through I notice a few things about my designs. Maybe I have paid too much attention to my competition and haven’t always stayed true to myself. Is better always better? While trying to keep up with volume have I lost my nerve to be more creative? Is was worth the trip down memory lane. I learned something new today, to stop and think, “is this really my best?”
I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.
Often customers will reach out to me and ask if anyone uses my memorial crosses as roadside memorials. I explain that unless a customer shares with me I don’t know what they intend to do with the crosses they purchase. Some of my customers have used my crosses for roadside memorials.
Roadside memorials have become quite controversial in the last few years and some cities have gone so far as pass laws forbidding the placement of roadside memorials. City and county governments have complained about the cost of disposing forgotten roadside memorials.
Societies and there rituals change with time and dealing with death is no different. Memorials whether they be a decal on a vehicle, a brick with a name, a tree planted in memory of a loved one, and yes, a roadside cross that marks the place where a loved one died. These are all are new rituals in society for dealing with grief and loss.
Cremation has become more affordable and less looked down upon than 50 years ago. I often wonder if these new ritual memorials have come about due to the loss of being able to place flowers at a cemetery as a memorial. The human need to remember and hope that others remember the loss of life.
Cemetery names are often the same as the small town the cemetery is near. Often cemeteries will have religious or saint names. Some make reference to water or flowers such Riverside or Rose Hill. Greenwood and Evergreen are very popular names for cemeteries. You would be hard pressed NOT to find an Evergreen or Greenwood Cemetery in every state of the United States.
These pictures are of one such Greenwood Cemetery. The difference is this Cemetery is on Madeline Island, Wisconsin. The Island is on Lake Superior and is beautiful. The Island has a population of 300 – 1500 depending on the time of year. I spotted this cemetery ( the only one on the island ) and wanted to take a look. I might have missed it if it had not been for the iron fence entrance. I did not enter any further than the gate which was open and welcoming, it just didn’t seem right to disturb such a small peaceful place and moment.