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Community Highlights: Meet Tatiana Maka of Silver Lining Cremations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tatiana Maka.

Hi Tatiana, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
Death is not a topic most people are eager to talk about but unfortunately is something we all face at some point in our lives.

There is this misconception about the funeral industry and death that is all dark and gloomy. I am here to change that and encourage the discussion about cremation and death. My comfort with this topic is not from being in the funeral industry for years but rather from my years as an ICU RN and working during Covid in multiple hospitals in San Diego County. You get pretty accustomed to death when you have to hold hands with multiple patients in a day while they are passing because the family is not allowed to be there. For me, at one point during the pandemic, I would have on average 3 patients a week whom I acted as their family during their last breath. Over and over I would have families ask so what is next?

Families were having a hard time finding funeral homes that would accept their loved ones. Because patients were on isolation due to the covid diagnosis, a lot of families were choosing cremation. I started to wonder why there is such a backlog. I called several funeral homes and the answer I got was “it will be about 2 months and you can not witness the cremation or see your loved one”. That is just not right. So I did some research and convinced my husband that we can do better.

There must be a way to allow people to grieve and get closure. See, grief is a process, and when someone gets buried, the family has closure because they witness their loved one going into the ground. With cremation, they get picked up from the hospital or home and then you get an urn. They do not have a chance to really say goodbye. Well, we changed that. We created a space where families can come and visit, cry, scream, help us care for them, and blast Elton John “Rocket Man” during the loading into the retort as well as play their favorite songs while the cremation is active. We are all about the personal touch.

After many hurdles and loan applications, we qualified for a government-backed SBA loan that supports small businesses and our journey began. One year and a half later we opened our doors to customers and are now a very helpful addition to the community. We are able to offer witness cremations, have the space for religious ceremonies, and can accommodate any family member that wants to say their last goodbye. The majority of the funeral homes do not own a crematory so they do not have the ability to offer what we can. I feel that I finally can truly help people and make an impact on how they process death and loss.

While working on opening the crematory, I completed my master’s as Family Nurse Practitioner and decided to keep going to earn a certificate in psychiatry. During my clinics in primary care, I have interacted with many patients that ended up being depressed and anxious due to losing a loved one and not being able to say goodbye. Some of these patients have lived with their partners for 70 years or so and on their last dance if you want to call it such, where unable to participate and honor their partner. As a funeral director and psychiatric NP, my mission is to be able to provide that closure and support.

The best compliment that I got so far was from a family member that came to pick up the remains of their loved one that passed suddenly from a medical condition. She told me “ you were a great comfort as you explained to me what happened in the hospital and allowed me to cry and tell you why it hurts”.

So, I know this is a long explanation but I wanted to tell you how I went from the first responder to the last responder. Here at Silver Lining Cremations, we try to see the “silver lining” in a difficult time of life.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think passing a kidney stone is nothing in comparison to what we had to go thru. If you never had a kidney stone, consider yourself very lucky. I have come to believe that cremation equipment is about the most regulated type of license out there. To be fair it should be as one, you are dealing with human remains, but another is the combustion of human tissue. We have dealt with a few regulatory bodies including the City of Escondido engineering and planning department as well as San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD). You can not open a crematory in San Diego city limits unless it is in a cemetery. Every city around it has its own zoning requirements. You have to be a certain distance from all living neighborhoods and schools. APCD does an extensive analysis of the exact location that looks at wind speeds, topography, waterways, and many other elements. Another study done looked at the neighborhood around us, foot traffic as well as other neighboring businesses. If you are lucky to pass all of those, a notice gets sent out to the surrounding community to advise and allow for questioning.These are the steps I just remember but I blocked out a lot of those stressful times. As you can see, it is not a process that one chooses to go through without giving it a lot of thought.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Silver Lining Cremations?
We are a crematory and funeral home located in Escondido, CA. We proudly serve all Southern California families.

We are the only crematory and funeral home that is set up to specifically accommodate witness cremations. We are not your typical old-school funeral home, but rather a light, airy welcoming environment, and facility where we welcome families to be part of the cremation.

There are only 8 licensed crematories in San Diego County. We own our equipment and have our own cooler and transportation so once your loved one is with us, they never leave our care. This allows us to prioritize our cases and provide services such as 24h return of cremains. It is especially convenient if there is a family out of town and they have a tight turnaround.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I am originally from Moldova and my husband is Polish. I lived for 13 y in Washington, DC prior to moving to San Diego for an ICU RN job at Scripps on the open heart – cardiac surgery floor. My husband was raised in Chicago and moved to Southern California 4 years ago because he had enough of the cold. We were both drawn to the laid-back, welcoming atmosphere of SD as well as the tacos because who does not like tacos?

As far as what I like the least, there are too many homeless people on the street and that is a clue that something is wrong and we as a society are not doing enough to help those people. Not the place for this information, but we do have a charity list where we put aside a certain number of cremations per month that we do at no charge to help the community when there’s a request as well as work with the Medical Examiner office to cremate cases where the decedent was homeless and had no living relatives.

Pricing:

  • Direct Cremation Package $1,065 – it includes everything that one needs as well as all permits and one Death Certificate
  • silverliningcremations.comis our website and it has a pricelist with all services and packages we provide.

Contact Info:

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