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Caring Cremations

Caring Cremations

By Kristie Darling
Photos by Shane Greene Photography

On the cover–Ben Jenkins, funeral home and crematory manager of Caring Cremations Life Celebrations and Funerals and Family Pet Cremations.

Right–Caring Cremations is a new facility serving families in Hickory and the surrounding areas.

Clockwise–Ben Jenkins(top-middle), Cremationist Pete Hager, Funeral Director and Cremationist Amanda Bailey Ward, Provisional Funeral Director and Cremationist Cassie Setzer, Cremationist Racheal Hester, Cremationist Bradley Scronce

Caring Cremations

Caring Cremations


As cremation has gained in popularity through the years, more and more families are choosing cremation as their final disposition.

In 2021, trends and technologies have allowed funeral providers to offer new and sophisticated options to their menu of services. While revered traditions are still some part of one’s funeral, those long-held practices have evolved to meet the needs and desires of today’s families. Compassionate, personalized, eco-friendly options can be explored at Caring Cremations, Hickory’s newest cremation center. Ben Jenkins, manager of Caring Cremations, along with professional funeral directors and support staff, are here to explain how they can help plan the right service for your loved one.

“We are the new age of funeral service,” Ben told me as he gave me a tour through his modern cremation center and its private family visitation suites in downtown Hickory. “We’re here to answer questions, present our modern facility, and explain ways a cremation can honor and serve you. We offer traditional or tech-savvy, with networked media to ensure your service is the way you want when your family comes together after a death. Our new space is designed to accommodate any number of funeral possibilities custom created for you. For some families, cremation is an important experience they want to share. For families choosing cremation over traditional burial services, we are listening. We’ve created a lovely space where families aren’t just dropping off their loved ones—they can actually be a part of the ceremony from start to finish. Lots of places use the term, ‘Your loved-one will never leave our care.’ We like to say, ‘Your-loved one will never leave your care’ in our facility where you can be there every step of the way. Cremation is the same as burial—both are forms of disposition. We thought, ‘If we carry our loved ones to the grave and lay them to rest,’ why do we, as funeral providers, not allow cremation families to do the same? It’s time for a change.’ That’s how Caring Cremations was started.”

Caring Cremations’ welcoming, contemporary space was designed by Ben’s wife, Meghan and her mother, Joni Bush to host family gatherings in a dignified, comfortable atmosphere. The central area has three family suites that can be opened into one private open space. This flexibility, furnishings for comfortable seating and refreshments, plus continuous personal service by the staff enables families to choose the right setting and program for their service and visitation time. Wall-mounted TVs can be used to share photos and videos. Livestreaming and Zoom conferencing can be arranged. Stories and memories are always comforting, and Caring Cremations created a setting where people can relax with each other and share. “Our dedicated staff is here for you every step of the way,” Ben said. “The Jenkins family has decades of experience in the funeral industry here in our community—many families know us through their experience with Jenkins Funeral Home in Newton. They come back to us when they again need to say good-bye to a loved one, and we hope they will continue to call on us. And now, we’re introducing the greater Hickory community to an additional new facility with new services. Everyone at Caring Cremations embraces that same Jenkins’ level of respect, dignity, and compassion in the work they do here.”

Edie King has known the Jenkins family for many years and told me the care she received when planning her husband’s funeral was exceptional. “They really do treat everyone like family, and I felt their compassion and support throughout our time together,” she said. “I’m not surprised they’re embracing this new concept in funeral service…I believe they understand our community well and are here to serve in one more special way.”

Caring Cremations is a bit different from a traditional funeral home. “We know what people are looking for these days, and we’re responding to that need,” Ben shared. “We understand that celebrating a life means different things to different people. Trends show that by 2025, more Americans will choose cremations for several reasons including lower cost and flexible, creative options for final commitment.”

Many people decide to custom-design their funeral in advance. Today, people are planning their retirement as well as their end-of-life choices and their legacy for the future. They select some or all the details…everything from cremation or burial, the cemetery and graveside service, casket, burial or cremation vault, urn, or another container for ashes, to special personal touches they want to include. Some who desire cremation have already selected a handcrafted pottery jar or wooden box that they are enjoying now in preparation for its next usefulness. Your end-of-life planner at Caring Cremations will help you choose the venue, music, poetry, or scripture you want read—even the caterer. This is when you really get to define “my final wishes,” easing the burden on families and locking in costs by paying in advance.

“Pre-planning at Caring Cremations can also be done online,” Ben explained. “It’s easy, and we designed it for people who mostly know what they want. Of course, we’re always available to help or explain anything. An end-of-life planner will always follow up with an online request.”

Pre-planning for a cremation is recommended. There are many considerations after cremation is chosen, either in advance or at the time of death. Are there certain clothes or a military uniform for the deceased? Keepsakes, jewelry, letters to be placed in the cremation casket? What are your plans for the ashes? Would you or other family members like to be present for, or participate in, your loved one’s cremation? “Because we know the healing that comes with letting go,” Ben shared, “our facility is uniquely designed to host interested families during the cremation itself. Our crematorium room is adjacent to our family suites, with an observation window, if desired. Everything is modern, secure, and pleasant. This option can serve as a final viewing, a final good-bye, if you will, and it ensures the family that the identity of their loved one is confirmed. As I said, your loved-one never leaves your care.”
Families can visit throughout or for part of the cremation process, about three hours. Just as you might visit at home, you can enjoy family love and prayer, a memorial service or celebration of life, refreshments, family videos, stories, and hugs—a unique option people have been asking for.

“We are the only crematory in our region with separate retorts (the cremation chambers) for humans and pets,” Ben explained. “All the services that we respectfully provide for your family member, we offer your furry loved ones.” From pick-up after a death at home or veterinarian’s office, through the entire cremation process, people are comforted knowing their pet is cared for reverently in a setting suitable for grieving, sharing, and remembering. Pet cremations are totally private, one pet at a time. “As pet owners ourselves, we wouldn’t want anything less. Closure is important, and when you receive your pet’s cremains, that journey can begin. We treat your pets like we would our own—we want everyone to find comfort,” Ben shared. Preplanning and consultations are available; urns, caskets, keepsakes, and other remembrances can be selected.

When death occurs, you may not know what to do, but I will tell you that Ben, his staff, and family always put families first, and they know how to help. They will listen and guide you. They will hold your hand and ease your burden during a most difficult time. Your decisions will give you peace of mind.

Whether you’re planning a funeral, a celebration of life, a special disposition of your faithful pet, the folks at Caring Cremations will help you discover and include the special touches that hold the most meaning for you and your family.

Caring Cremations
609 Highland Ave SE, Hickory, NC 28602

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© 2009 Last update September 17, 2021