If you’re considering cremation as a funeral planning option for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to have all the facts first. Although cremation is growing in popularity as a low-cost and environmentally-friendly way to say goodbye to those we love, it isn’t mainstream enough yet that the details of the process are common knowledge—especially as they relate to medical and spiritual issues.
Who Can be Cremated?
As long as there are no personal or religious restrictions, anyone can be cremated. However, depending on your situation, cremation may have to be delayed (as is the case if the remains are needed for a criminal investigation).
Other medical considerations include:
- Organ donors can be cremated, but will first undergo the necessary procedures to remove the organs.
- Individuals who have prosthetics or pacemakers will have the devices removed prior to cremation.
- If you believe you may need DNA retrieval in the future (for medical reasons related to the inheritance of family diseases), you may need to take advantage of a DNA storage program.
- Funeral homes may not discriminate against the deceased if he or she was known to have a blood-borne disease (such as AIDS or Hepatitis), and these individuals can still be cremated. However, you should talk with the funeral home first to ensure that safety measures are taken.
Religious Considerations of Cremation
One of the biggest reasons people either say yes or no to cremation is because of their religion. Cremation began as a religious practice (as did burial), and while some religions hold fast to their roots and require a certain interment method, most are fairly flexible when it comes to your wishes.
The religions that typically frown on cremation include:
- Orthodox Judaism
- Eastern Orthodoxy
Roman Catholicism has also been long considered one of the religions that forbids cremation, but that is no longer true. While many church leaders will urge their followers to opt for burial, since they prefer the body to remain intact when it is buried, all but the most strict churches will allow—and even have a columbarium—for cremation.
Religions that encourage cremation include Buddhism and Hinduism (with some exceptions). Most other religions take a neutral stance.
For More Information on Cremation
If you still aren’t sure if cremation is right for you, be sure and talk to your funeral director, doctor, and any religious officials whose opinion matters to your family. Although you can save money with cremation, it’s not the right decision for everyone—and whatever your wishes may be, they should be respected by those helping you to finalize your plans.