What all goes into this vital (yet not often talked about) thought process on whether we want to have a burial or be cremated? We know it can be a sensitive subject, yet it’s necessary so our families can start understanding and planning based on our choices.
We would rather be prepared as best we can and have the opportunity to deepen our connection with our loved ones through exploring this. If we put this conversation on the back burner, we may be leaving our family members to make a number of decisions after our passing, when their main focus should truly be to heal from our absence and honor our life.
Below are different aspects to consider when choosing burial or cremation. There are a number of topics to consider to make the decision that's right for you, including cost, timeline, religious beliefs, and the wishes of you and your loved ones.
Cremation vs. Burial
For families who unexpectedly have to make a decision to cremate or bury a loved one, cremation is often chosen because it can be a quicker process. It is usually the cost-effective choice, yet there are additional options available to consider.
If the environmental effects are a concern, less land is required with cremation compared to a burial plot. On a brighter note, families then get to decide what to do with the ashes and how to honor their loved ones. This allows them to take as much time as they need to decide if the ashes will be dispersed in a favorite area of the loved one who has passed, or for example if they want to make them into a diamond that can be cherished forever.
One thing to note is that cremation is a permanent decision. Take all the time you need to think about if that’s something you’re comfortable with.
In some personal views, it can seem more traditional to choose a burial plot or vault. There are some religions that generally prefer burial over cremation. Family and friends have a physical place they can gather and this may offer our loved ones extra closure, although if everyone does not live in the same geographical area, this can present a unique problem of its own.
It’s important to be aware that burial is the more expensive option. Depending on if plans have been arranged ahead and paid for, these costs may fall on the loved one who is making the decisions after the passing. While it is always worth doing what is best for you and your family, the cost can be a factor for many people.
Being mindful of the impact this has on the Earth, caskets are actually considered a contaminant when they are buried.
Religious and Societal Cultures
Buddhism does not have a preference in its funeral practice and believes it’s a free choice for each person. Buddha was even cremated, which leads other Buddhists to follow in the same footsteps. Judaism is strict that all must be buried, even if a loved one has requested to be cremated. They believe their bodies belong to God and must remain in the same form that they entered into this world.
Catholics prefer for their people to be buried, yet there is some flexibility since cremation is more cost-effective. The church requires that funeral rites still be said over the beloved before a cremation or with the ashes. Hinduism believes that the soul requires a body to continue living. Their faith is in reincarnation, where the soul will enter a new body until it reaches its source connection. Therefore, they feel cremating actually aids the body in reaching its enlightenment or ascension more swiftly.
Aside from the primary framework, cremation and burial both have additional elements that can be included in the memorialization, often through the funeral homes. When looking at the basic must-haves, cremation is generally the more cost-effective option since there is no need for a burial plot or headstone.
Overall, the cost of a cremation is usually more economical for some families. If you are leaning towards cremation, be sure to check your state’s requirements as some funeral homes may or may not handle the permits and death certificates.
Step by Step Cremation Process
The entire cremation process can take anywhere from four days to two weeks. Once the family gives proper authorization, the loved one is prepared to enter the cremation chamber. Then the ashes are transferred into an urn or box to be given to the family.
The time varies depending on if there is a medical examiner involved. In this case, once the death certificate is finalized by the doctor, the cremation process can begin.
We want to highlight three of the most common potential delays in the cremation process, in case a family is on a timeline to receive the ashes. First, if a medical examiner is present, they may need extra time to complete their paperwork. There are times that all family members have not finalized the cremation authorization and that can put a pause until completed. Lastly, if the doctor does not sign the death certificate in a timely manner, that can also cause a delay.
Once we arrive at this step, you now have the chance to make sure the decisions moving forward are focused on commemorating your loved one. This is your time to memorialize them and consider what you want to do with the ashes. We will break down a few specifics on how to receive ashes after the cremation is completed.
The crematorium will schedule a time for you to come to pick up the ashes or for them to be delivered. You will have the option to choose how to receive the ashes. Was an urn, box, or some other closed receptacle chosen for the ashes to be placed in? The crematorium is required to present the beloved’s ashes in a durable box of some kind to the family.
Creative Memorial Ideas With Ashes
What are ways to honor the beloved that will leave a lasting connection to them and their memory? It is popular for friends and family to gather and disperse the ashes somewhere meaningful. This could be a cherished place of the loved one or somewhere they always wanted to visit.
One of the most unique and brilliant ways is to use the ashes to be turned into a real diamond that is as brilliant as the life your loved one lived. This can be a life-changing and transformative choice for some, as it gives a deeper meaning to finding a new purpose in life and the ability to still share new memories with our loved ones every day.
When it comes to how long cremation can take, it's truly preparing to make the decision that can take the most time, and this part shouldn’t feel rushed. Each person will take their own steps on how they make their decision, and we are hoping these conversations expand and include the ones closest to us. Being able to communicate ahead of time can alleviate pressure from our loved ones having to make all the decisions, especially if they are left wondering how we want our legacy to be remembered.
Let’s start the conversation with our family and friends. It may be awkward in the beginning, yet it will be worthwhile as our connections deepen and unfold like never before. Time is precious; take the opportunity now to cultivate these relationships and normalize the discussion around death so we can focus on what’s truly important: loving and honoring one another.