GOLETA, Calif. - NewsChannel 3 profiles a unique company, a stand-out in an era when people are looking for new solutions to old traditions.
Parting Stone offers an artistic way to preserve the ashes of a loved one. One Goleta woman, who is blind, found the results emotionally healing, especially during covid.
“He’s really missed,” said Cheri Owen. “I feel that this is something that he would've wanted me to do for him.”
Owen is referring to her late, younger brother, Chad. She keeps his memory alive each day at the home she shares with her wife, Jenni Sorkin. Chad died tragically in his 40's from a carfentanil overdose.
Years later, Cheri’s grief is still raw.
“His best saying was, 'You know sissy, there's not a cloud in the sky….’” said Cheri, her voice cracked with emotion. “He was funny, he could make you laugh, and he was charming and he was loyal and a hard worker and very trustworthy to me. And, he would do anything for my wife and I.”
Framed photos of Chad sit near a glass bowl filled with smooth, white stones. But don’t mistake those for rocks -- they're actually Chad's remains.
"It's more of a piece of love and art and I had been trying to think for the past three and a half years what to do with the ashes," said Cheri.
Initially, Chad's ashes were in a Dodger's urn in the women's tv room.
“Because he loved them but then they started losing and I'm thinking, 'Well, we gotta get you outta here,'' said Cheri.
Jenni, an art historian at UCSB, came across Parting Stone during an endorsement from a gallerist she knows. The company is based in New Mexico and was founded by a group of artists. Their website states the group’s mission “is to empower families in their grief through a form of remains that can be touched and held” for both people and pets.
"Ash becomes a natural binder for ceramics so in that sense it felt right," said Jenni.
"The ashes go thru a kiln and then these beautiful stones are produced," said Cheri. "I found it especially with my blindness, that it could be something tactile."
The cremated remains are tracked from the moment they leave FedEx, through the entire kiln process, and shipping back home.
"A lot of people now, especially this year during COVID and what they're going through emotionally, physically, people have passed. You know, maybe they can keep this in mind as a beautiful way to remember their loved one," said Cheri.
"You could have one with you, it could be kind of a worry stone," said Jenni. "It would be part of you, you know, like a secret object in your pocket that I think is really lovely."
The women place a fresh rose by Chad's remains to honor his love of their garden.
"He was as beautiful as the stones came out," said Cheri.
Jamie Hannah, a PR spokeswoman for Parting Stone, shared that for the first time in modern history more people are being cremated than buried. And, more than 20-million Americans live with ashes at home today.
Parting Stone's process takes six to eight weeks.
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