• Chapel of the Chimes Debuts Bay Area’s First Witness Crematory

    Chapel of the Chimes Cast page logo

    With Opening of New Facility in January 2012, Cemetery in Hayward, CA, Responds to Growing National Trend Toward Cremation as End-of-Life Choice

    More than 60% of people in California make the end-of-life choice to be cremated. California is among several states leading the trend toward cremation, which has been on the rise throughout the United States. With the debut of the Bay Area’s first witness crematory, allowing loved ones to view the ceremony leading up to cremation, Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward, CA, is responding to the rapidly growing requests for the service.

    “We’re seeing more families deciding that cremation is the right choice for them,” says Harry Blakeman, general manager of Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward, CA.  “We serve people of all faiths, and we see many different situations. But cremation continues to be a growing preference among loved ones. With the opening of our new witness crematorium, we’re responding to what the apparent trend that cremation is becoming the end-of-life choice standard.”

    According to the Cremation Association of North America, 14.9% of Americans were cremated in 1985.  By 2015, the percentage is expected to reach 44.42%. By 2025, more than 55% of Americans will choose cremation as their end-of-life process. Traditional burials are on the decline in California and throughout the country.  Cremation is now the preferred rite for taking care of remains after death.  Religion, economics and personal preference are a few reasons for the shift.

    In America, profound demographic changes are driving the increase in cremation acceptance. Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism all mandate cremation.  As society grows increasingly multicultural, growth in cremation practices will increase along with it. Today, most religions allow cremation, including nearly all Christian faiths across North America.  The Roman Catholic Church began to accept it in recent decades, as long as it is not chosen for reasons contrary to Christian teachings. 

    “As our culture becomes more diverse and people start moving away from traditional burial choices, cremation continues to emerge as the preferred passing ritual,” says Blakeman. “We have embraced this change at Chapel of the Chimes. The recently renovated Witness Crematory offers families the opportunity to witness the cremation process and provides an area to pray, gather and visit. This grants the opportunity for the same ceremonial practices and traditions associated with burials.”

    Cremation is simple and trouble-free allowing for less for families to worry about during this emotional time.  But cremation doesn’t mean forsaking the ceremony and reverence of a traditional burial. Today’s cremation services include many ceremonial proceedings and rituals associated with burial services.  Still, more people today feel they don’t want their bodies buried in the earth and prefer the “efficiency” of cremation.  Additionally, as we become more environmentally conscious, cremation is a viable green decision.  It conserves land and space, particularly in heavily populated urban areas.  

    Today there are fewer restrictions around funerals and memorial services.  People are looking for flexible, personalized services, oftentimes non-denominational.  Cremation seems to be a natural fit with this thinking. Cremation has become preferred irrespective of religious background.

    “Whether for religious, economic or personal reasons, the practice of cremation continues to grow,” says Blakeman. “We’re continuing to evolve our business to be responsive to those trends and provide a personalized service during a difficult time. Cremation has become a preferred choice for many but visitations and memorials in the cemetery will always be important for remembering loved ones.”


    Chapel of the Chimes Hayward provides end-of-life services to families with diverse religious, ethnic and cultural traditions. Established in 1872 as a 7-acre cemetery in what is now Chapel of the Chimes Hayward, today the family of cemeteries, funeral homes and crematories has locations throughout Northern California. Chapel of the Chimes offers the most comprehensive end-of-life services of any company operating exclusively in the region. For more information, visit www.hayward.chapelofthechimes.com

    Press Release 3-30-12

  • Planning a Veteran Service For Your Loved One

    Freedom Is Not Free

    The passing of a loved one is tragic. This sadness is compounded when the late family member spent their lifetime protecting our country. Planning a proper ceremony for your veteran loved one ensures their military service is honored . The following tips help the surviving family of a veteran use the resources provided by the Department of Veterans and the funeral home of choice to plan a memorable and honorable funeral.

    • Veteran Rights: Both the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs can help family members plan the perfect memorial for a passed veteran. Families can request that the DOD get in touch with funeral homes on their behalf. This ensures that a full military funeral honors detail (two or more uniformed persons) and the playing of Taps will occur at the service. Additionally, the family can contact the Department of Veteran Affairs for financial support. The family of a passed veteran is eligible for partial reimbursement of the service.
    • Family Requests: Public Law 106-65 guarantees honorably charged veterans access to military funeral honors. Family members can access additional military funeral benefits upon request. For example, families can request a United States flag for burial purposes from the Department of Veteran Affairs. Likewise, families can apply to receive a “Presidential Memorial Certificate” to recognize the veteran’s sacrifice. Both the flag and President-signed certificate can be incorporated into the veteran’s memorial. These steps ensure veterans are laid to rest with full recognition for their service.
    • Personal Touches: All veterans, be they honorably discharged or career service, lead full lives. Family members can also incorporate the full scope of a loved one’s interests and hobbies into the memorial. For instance, pictures of a passed loved one enjoying favorite hobbies are a great way to honor an entire lifetime. The helpful professionals at the Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward can help family members personalize any type of funeral service.

    Chapel of the Chimes can help families work through this difficult time with the utmost of professionalism. Contact us at (510) 471-3363 for additional information.

  • Celebrate the Life Of Your Loved One With These Helpful Resources

    Senior couple sitting in the park

    A beautiful memorial and heartfelt obituary are just a few of the ways you can honor a deceased loved one. Work with a family member to pre-plan a service or review the following planning tips to ensure their memorial is as personal as possible.

    Call the professionals at The Chapel of the Chimes by dialing (510) 471-3363 for additional details about our services.

  • The History of Gravestones

    All cultures have specific traditions dictating how they honor their lost loved ones. This History Channel Video discusses how the evolution of gravestones reflects numerous of cultural influences.

    The video begins by identifying how stone grave markers are a relatively recent innovation. Western Oregon University Emeritus Professor Richard Meyer explains how the symbols showcased on gravestones identify thoughts about death that were culturally significant at the time. Professor Meyer notes how gravestones reflected the cultural theme of mortality.

    Personalized, resplendent gravestones are just one of many specialties of Chapel of the Chimes . Our 61-acre grounds are located within view of the serene San Francisco Bay. Learn more about how our staff can accommodate your special requests with a call to (510) 471-3363.

  • How to Personalize into Your Loved One’s Memorial

    Flower on a grave

    More and more funeral services are paying tribute to the deceased in unique and deeply personal ways. Use these memorial personalization tips to begin looking for special ways to honor a precious loved one at his or her funeral service .

    • Consider A Loved One’s Personality

    The process of personalizing a loved one’s memorial begins with a comprehensive list . Note their favorite entertainment, hobbies, and style of dress. These items will make up the foundation of your loved one’s specialized service. Contact the deceased’s pastor or deacon to perform the service if their faith was an important aspect of life. Consider reflecting your loved one’s unique fashion style in a non-traditional dress code for the memorial. Each of these strategies can help the memorial to reflect the unique spirit of a family member who has passed.

    • Seek Input From Friends and Relatives

    Don’t bear the burden of planning your loved one’s memorial service on your own. The significant mourning that follows a loved one’s death can be overwhelming. In turn, this grief is quick to stifle the creativity that you will want to access when personalizing a funeral. Working with close friends and family to characterize the funeral takes this pressure off of your shoulders. Close friends may also be privy to elements of the loved one’s final wishes that were not expressed to family members. Also, incorporating others into the planning process can ensure that everyone has support through a healthy mourning period.

    • Use Cemetery Services

    Remember to consult the cemetery director for more tips on how to add personal flourishes to the memorial. Chapel of the Chimes, for example, offers auditory accompaniments like a bagpipe player. These one-of-a kind musical features may be the perfect addition to a loved one’s thematic memorial. Likewise, including a framed portrait or custom wrist bands remind attendees that their precious loved one lives on in memories.

    The compassionate staff at Chapel of the Chimes is dedicated to meeting personal requests for all funeral services. Our Silver Package and other signature services allow for greater creativity in funeral planning. Dial (510) 471-3363 for additional details.

  • Ching Ming 2012

    Ching Ming Page 1

    History of Ching Ming
    The phrase Ching Ming is linked to the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship, which many consider the original religion of China dating back over 2,500 years.

    The practice of ancestor worship is based on three beliefs:

    • That a person’s good or bad fortune is influenced by the souls of his or her ancestors
    • That all departed ancestors have the same material needs they had when alive
    • That the departed can assist their living relatives

    Ching Ming is a major public festival that is generally treated as an official holiday in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    Ching Ming Traditions
    On Ching Ming (or Qing Ming), celebrants traditionally visit ancestral graves, where special rites are held and offerings are made in honor of ancestors. This event is held on the 106th day after winter solstice and usually occurs on April 4th or 5th. Traditionally in today’s world of working families, the trip to the
    Cemetery will occur on the weekend before April 5th.

    This event is related to the Chinese tradition of receiving blessings from previous generations when undertaking a new venture. Ching Ming unfolds in a picnic-like atmosphere and is observed as a time for happy communion with ancestors rather than a somber occasion.

    Visiting the cemetery is referred to as “hang san” (walking the mountain). A series of activities; clearing the gravesite of dirt and debris, weeding around the site and repainting inscriptions on the gravestone are together referred to as “sweeping the grave”. Wine and a variety of foods may be placed around the gravesite as offerings to the spirit of the deceased. Eating the food that was offered to the deceased is considered good luck. Paper money is burned for use in the afterlife, candles are lit, and family members bow and kneel in respect. Many of today’s offerings may be simple, consisting of incense, paper money and flowers. Families may also set off firecrackers to drive evil spirits away from the gravesite.

    For Chinese Immigrant communities, Ching Ming is observed as a traditional and cultural ritual rather than a religious practice. In the United States, Ching Ming is most commonly observed in San Francisco and Hawaii.

    Wall of Honor
    What if all your departed loved ones are overseas? How do you pass on this tradition of respect to future generations? We at Skylawn and Chapel of the Chimes Hayward have erected a special Wall of Honor, where you can come and place the names of your departed loved ones and carry on the Tradition of Ching Ming that has been a part of Chinese Culture for over 2,500 years.

    For more information about this event, please give us a call at (510) 471-3363 or visit our website! If you would like to add your loved one’s name to the Wall of Honor, please visit the Ching Ming 2012 link.

    Ching Ming Page 5

  • Essential Information to Include in an Obituary


    An obituary serves as both a concise summary of a person’s life and as a public announcement of their recent passing. The intended publishing location of the obituary will ultimately dictate the exact format and length of the piece. Use the following format tips for help in preparing the obituary .

    • Newspaper Format

    Obituaries for publication are typically written in a short, newspaper-friendly form. Even the shortest obituary includes the person’s full name, birth date, and date of death. Families should also include the date and setting of the memorial service. While relatively short, obituaries like these are important for communicating with persons close to the deceased but not connected with the family. Obituaries may be the first place co-workers or acquaintances may become aware of your loved one’s passing.

    • Program Long Form

    The obituary found in funeral programs and dedications includes much more detail than the newspaper counterpart. Detailed plans for the memorial, circumstances of the death, and a detailed life history are often elements included in this long-form obituary. Families are also advised to focus on sections of the loved one’s life that held special meaning. Highlight time spent in military service or lifetime volunteer work in the program. These obituaries should also include all of the information presented in the newspaper format.

    • How To Publish

    The ease of putting an obituary into print depends largely on the publication of your choice. Many newspapers will run a brief obituary or long-form notice for free. Large publications will publish obituaries at a cost (either a flat fee or charged by the word). Consider publishing the obituary in a newspaper well-read by the deceased loved one in life. Many of these services can be handled by the funeral director for the family’s convenience.

    The Chapel of the Chimes hosts obituaries directly on our home page. This service ensures all family and friends have an opportunity to reflect on the life of your passed loved one. Learn more about obituary support by dialing us at (510) 471-3363.