Cremation is becoming an increasingly viable choice for those who wish to step away from traditional burial platforms. With lower overall costs, a healthier environmental stamp, and the ability to personally connect with the deceased remains, there are a number of good reasons to consider this funeral planning option. However, because cremation has not become quite as widespread as traditional burial, some families may not be ready to take this step.
What are the Deceased’s Wishes?
Cremation tends to come with less hassle than a burial, simply because there are no concerns about embalming, preservation, having an open casket, dressing the body, or going through a burial. For this reason, many people wish to be cremated as a final gift to their loved one, thereby releasing them from much of the financial and emotional burden of funeral planning.
However, because cremation is still a touchy subject among many people, family wishes must be taken into account, as well. A will or funeral pre-plan is a great way to solidify cremation as a body disposal choice, and those who feel strongly about it may need to make advance arrangements to ensure that all their wishes are being met.
No matter what you choose, it’s important to note that cremations aren’t a “substitute” for a funeral. Virtually every cremation is accompanied by ceremonial rites such as flower arrangements, memorial services, choosing a vessel for the remains (in this case, an urn), and options to honor the deceased with a more permanent burial structure like a columbarium. In some situations, the deceased may even be allowed to be cremated while in possession of certain items that may have held a personal importance to him or her while alive. In this way, cremation is only different than burial in that the body’s natural decay process is altered.
Disposing of the Cremated Remains
One of the primary reasons people choose cremations is the potential to honor the deceased by keeping or spreading the ashes in a location that carries great meaning. Whether it’s a beloved garden, a favorite fishing spot, or a spot on the mantlepiece, cremation allows family members to personally connect with the deceased’s remains in a way that isn’t possible through burial alone.
Additional options include burying the remains in a family cemetery plot, which typically allows for several family members to be “buried” and commemorated together, or a columbarium, which provides niche spaces for the placement of an urn among a wall of similar markers. An even more innovative choice allows you to purchase jewelry that contains a portion of the remains, which means you can wear and/or pass down a part of your loved one for years.
Burial or Cremation: Making the Decision
Many religions have something to say either for or against cremation, and local laws where you live might also play a role. If you are considering cremation as part of your funeral planning process, be sure and talk with other loved ones and relevant officials to ensure that you’re making the right decision for your family. Cremation can be a great choice – and the right choice – provided you understand the wishes of the deceased and remember that it is the memories you carry that are the most important thing.