What is a Memorial Society
A memorial society is an association of like-minded people from all walks of life, who respect the need for a simple, dignified alternative to the elaborate and increasingly costly funeral services promoted by the conventional funeral industry.
Who We Are
- FAMSS is a non-profit society that has provided funeral planning advice to the public since 1969.
- Board members are volunteers elected at the Annual General Meeting.
- We have no paid staff and are entirely supported by donations and memberships.
- We do not own or operate any funeral homes, crematoriums or monument companies.
- We encourage members to involve their families in their decisions.
- We encourage members to complete an Advance Health Care Directive, Will, and Power of Attorney.
We are an association of like-minded people from all walks of life, who respect the need for a simple, dignified alternative to increasingly costly funerals.
Most members believe that money spent on elaborate funerals and expensive caskets could be better spent among the living.
As a Member you are encouraged to attend the Annual General Meeting and help guide the organization.
If you wish to become active in our society, please contact us!
Over the last 100 years the process of preparing for death and dealing with the deceased’s remains has changed dramatically. What used to be a simple and standardized process mostly directed by family and church has now become a complex interplay between the dying person, their survivors, a bureaucratic health system, and one or more private commercial funeral service providers.
Prior to WWII, the majority of our population lived in rural village-based settings or in well-defined urban neighbourhoods. In both cases, rules and rituals surrounding death were mainly defined by family and church traditions. What needed to be done was known by elder family members, neighbours and clergy. Family status and ethnic background determined death traditions. People were generally buried in church or municipal graveyards after simple ceremonies and without delay.
After WWII, families spread out, incomes increased, church and neighbourhood associations diminished, and we lost much of the knowledge around death and dying. Increasingly, people turned to private professionals to orchestrate the process, thereby driving the development of a huge funeral industry. Private commercial cemeteries were created. Commercial funeral homes with non-denominational chapels and expensive funeral services such as embalming, ornate caskets, and elaborate memorial services were sold to the general public.
In addition, the field of death and dying has become more complex. Some of the major societal changes include end-stage health care, legislation, spiritual attitudes, land use, ecological sustainability and fragmentation of society. All have impacted how we approach dying and disposing of our loved one’s remains.
To counter this loss of knowledge, commercialization of death, and new complexities, Memorial Societies were founded in the 1950s and 1960s. They wanted to bring back the traditional principles of dignity, simplicity, and economy in dealing with death and reclaim the tradition of family led death care. Memorial societies now provide ways of minimizing costs charged by funeral homes, information on end-of-life care, preparing for death, disposition of the physical remains, and options for honouring the deceased.
FAMSS encourages consideration of all options well in advance of death so that everyone can have the opportunity to make clear, rational decisions that reflect their personal values and traditions, without the pressures of time, cost, or lack of knowledge.