When a loved one passes away, it’s never easy to make decisions about their final resting place. It can be just as tough making that decision for yourself when planning for after your death. For most people, there are two primary choices: burial or cremation. While other options exist of course, such as entombment, burial at sea, cryogenic preservation, and body donation, the vast majority of people will choose one of the two most common. While both options can be respectful and meaningful ways to honour your loved one, it is important to carefully consider all of the factors involved in each before making a decision.
Some Things to Consider:
Cost is an important factor to consider when making this decision as well. Burial plots and caskets tend to be more expensive than cremations, which usually come with basic services such as transportation and filing paperwork. However, if you choose cremation, you will still need to purchase an urn as well as pay for any memorial services that you might plan afterwards. Speak to your funeral director about what’s available.
For some religions, like Catholicism, burial or entombment is considered superior to cremation. Cremation and other options haven’t been banned for Catholics since 1960, but many adherents still prefer to stick with the traditional options. Many religions have different traditions and preferences around death and burial, and it’s wise to look into those before making a decision.
For those who prioritize environmental sustainability when making decisions about death care service providers, it is important to think about how your choice between burial and cremation might impact the environment. When considering burial plots, it is important to research what kind of embalming fluids are allowed in a cemetery before choosing the location for your plot since some chemicals used in embalming can contaminate soil and water sources over time. Cremation also relies on energy-intensive processes that can have environmental consequences; however, this option does reduce the amount of land needed for burials by up to 80%.
For some people, this may be the deciding factor above all others. Many people want to be placed with their deceased spouse, parents, or children. That might mean burying them in an adjacent plot, but if the space is not available, scattering ashes in that location may be an option. Similarly, a person’s love for the ocean or a particular landscape might push the decision towards cremation.
Wishes of the Deceased
It is best practice to check with your loved one before deciding whether to bury or cremate them. This can mean having conversations during life or consulting any relevant documents that state a preference for either option. If none of these are available, a family should consider what their loved one valued in life, as these values may inform their choice. If you’re planning for what you’d like done with your own remains, have these conversations with your loved ones early, and make sure your wishes are detailed in your will. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference when deciding between burial and cremation for your loved one; there are pros and cons associated with both options.
Do some research on each option if you are unsure which route you want to take; this will help you make an informed decision regarding what kind of final tribute would best honor your loved one’s memory. Ultimately, choosing between burial and cremation often comes down to personal preference or religious beliefs. Whichever choice you make should reflect your wishes as well as those of your deceased loved one so that their memory can be honored in an appropriate way while also taking into account practical considerations such as cost and environmental impact. As long as you take all factors into consideration and do careful research before settling on an option, whatever choice you make will be one that honors your loved one’s memory properly.
If you’d like to hear more, check out our podcast, Death Defined (https://deathdefined.com.au/Video/) where we discuss the complicated emotional spectrum of death with real people, from their experiences. Hosted by funeral director Matt Kwoka, we delve into the complicated emotions, processes, and taboos surrounding one of the experiences that unites all humanity.