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What Should I Consider When Deciding Between Cremation and Burial?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Choosing between cremation and burial for yourself or when a loved one has died can be a very difficult decision. There are many factors to take into consideration. These include cost, religion, environmental concerns, and any negative feelings you might have about one method or the other.

In terms of considering cost differences of cremation and burial, it is typically less expensive to choose cremation, provided you live within a reasonable distance from a cremation site. The things you won’t have to pay for include caskets, space in a cemetery, head stones, and transportation of caskets to and from any funeral or memorial services. Some people choose to put up headstones for family members who have died and been cremated, but you don’t have to put these in typical funeral grounds. You can place a memorial anywhere you like, even in your family’s home or grounds.

You will likely have to pay for disposal of ashes if you plan to dispose of them. People who want ash dispersal at sea may need to work with companies that provide these services. Yet these services are still usually less expensive than is typical burial and burial plots.

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Another consideration when you are choosing between cremation and burial is your or someone else’s religious beliefs. There are religions that prohibit cremation, and you’ll need to take this into account if you belong to one of these religions. It is mistakenly believed that Roman Catholics may not be cremated. Though originally Catholicism banned cremation, they lifted this ban in the mid 20th century, but continued to require a mass be said with the body present prior to cremation. Now, mass can be said with presence of the cremated remains, though many Catholics still may prefer burial options.

Some people are most likely to have environmental concerns when they think about cremation and burial. It was thought that cremation was much less damaging to the environment, but there has since been some evidence that the cremation process releases greenhouse gases. This may create final environment debt. On the other hand, many cemeteries are reaching capacity.

In the end, what may matter most is how you feel about cremation and burial, or how you will best fulfill the wishes of a deceased loved one. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, and no one really wants to make decisions about the end of their lives. Yet, it’s still a good idea to decide on a method, make it evident in a will or final letters you leave to family, and provide a means for paying for your preferred choice. This way you lift the burden off your family, and they don’t have to decide between cremation and burial for you.

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Mor
Post 3

@irontoenail - The other thing a lot of people don't realize about ashes is that you aren't actually allowed to just dispose of them where ever you want. We had this great idea that we would send my father's ashes off in the ocean at his favorite beach, but when we researched it, it's actually illegal to release them in public areas. Which makes sense, but it never seems to matter to people in TV shows.

irontoenail
Post 2

@croydon - Actually, cremation isn't necessarily the most environmentally friendly method of disposing of remains. It takes a lot of energy to burn a body and the human body has a surprisingly large amount of heavy metals in it, so the ashes aren't the best thing to be spreading around either. Plus, of course, it lets off carbon.

As far as I know a green funeral, where the body isn't embalmed or placed in a permanent casket or vault is the most environmentally friendly method.

croydon
Post 1

I really just want to do the most responsible thing with my body after I go. So probably that would be cremation, after any use has been made of organs, or donating my body to science or medical students. There are just too many people in the world for everyone to have an eternal box after they go. Cremation is much better for the environment.

The problem is that my mother is quite religious and she's always complained that my aunt was cremated because it means there is no place to go and visit her. We visit my grandmother in the cemetery all the time. So, if I went before my mother, I wouldn't want to deny her the peace of mind that being able to visit me in a cemetery would bring. Hopefully that won't ever be an issue though.

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