More and more people are choosing cremation as a final disposition method. Cremation is on the rise, and there are many factors involved in this trend – from cost to claustrophobia, from religious considerations to the convenience of Skype, there are not only broad trends but also uniquely specific reasons why more and more people choose cremation over burial.
Here are five general, broad-brush reasons why people are choosing cremation, followed by specific comments from actual people on why they have decided to go with cremation.
General Reasons Why People Are Choosing Cremation
Cremation generally costs 40-50% less than traditional ground burial overall. Cremation does not require a grave or headstone, many families skip embalming, cremation urns are generally cheaper than caskets, and so on.
Cremation can remove the need for the more elaborate ground burial ceremony involving casket, viewings, pall bearers, etc. An urn is smaller and therefore much easier to handle than a full-sized casket.
As mentioned above an urn is much smaller than a casket and therefore very easy to transport and/or store at home. Cremation also frees up the timeframe, so you can hold on to the remains indefinitely until you and your family arrange burial, scattering, or some other method of disposition for the remains.
4. Environmental concerns
Traditional burial takes up space in the earth and often involves heavy doses of chemicals (when the body is embalmed). Cremation does take its toll with carbon emissions, but as equipment and technology improves the impact on the environment is lessening. There is some debate, but generally cremation is considered more “green” and eco-friendly.
5. Less tradition, more personal
While family and religious traditions are still very important to people, there is a general trend away from traditionalism, or tradition for the sake of tradition. Instead, families prefer to celebrate the individual in a unique and personal way. Cremation offers the flexibility for loved ones to design a completely one of a kind memorial and disposition. Scattering ashes is a popular choice, and this can be done in a myriad of ways: at sea, in your backyard, from a helicopter, planted as a memorial tree, shot off in fireworks, and so on.
Specific Reasons Why People Are Choosing Cremation
6. Space availability at cemetery of choice
A reader on an advice column blog nots that their father, a WWII veteran, planned on burial at National Veteran’s Cemetery, but the only option available was interment in the veteran’s columbarium wall and thus cremation was necessary. (1)
The idea of being buried awakes deep-seeded fears in many people: “I’m to claustrophobic to be buried.” (2)
8. Nobody’s science project
“I’m opting for cremation when my time comes. I don’t want to be dug up in the future for someone’s science project, grave robbers or archaeologists.” (3)
9. General space
“I figure there’s no reason to take up space when I’m gone.” (4)
“I’ve also decided on cremation, more because of moving around a lot and not wanting to leave a place where somebody is expected to take care of a site years after anybody who knew and cared about me is long gone.” (5)
11. To be buried near loved ones
One commenter on a discussion forum notes that it is nice to visit the grave of a loved one and just “be where she is.” (6) With nearness, there can be a feeling of connectivity with the departed loved ones. Since there is often not room available for a full-size casket burial, many families can arrange to have the much smaller urn with cremated ashes buried with or near other loved ones and family members.
12. Multiple scattering sites
Several commenters on a Dear Abby column expressed the desire to be scattered or buried at multiple sites – on a family farm, in the ocean, a favorite spot on Prince Edward Island, back home in Germany, etc. Cremation allows for as many or as few disposition locations as you choose. (7)
13. To donate body to science
Many people choose to donate their bodies to medical science after their death. This can mean research, organ donation, or a combination of the two. Some prefer this as a means of generosity to others even after they have departed this life. As one commenter notes, “If any part of me can help someone – my heart, my corneas, my skin … then I want to help other people who are still living.” (8) Afterwards, the body is cremated and the remains are given back to the family, freeing your loved ones of the cost of cremation.
14. To be part of a memorial reef
Scuba divers and ocean lovers can have their remains become part of the Neptune Memorial Reef, an underwater mausoleum designed and maintained by the Neptune Society as a home for sea life and a destination for divers. (9)
15. Sharing jewelry
“Because of the proliferation of fine mini-urns — which may be used as jewelry — I intend to have a portion of my ashes distributed to a few of the women who have touched my life in various ways over the years.” (10)
16. To become a diamond
Modern technology allows cremated remains to be transformed into diamonds. (11)
17. To skip the whole ‘rotting in a box’ thing
“Cremated. Its cheaper and I don’t like the thought of ‘rotting in a box’!” (12)
18. To be planted as a tree
19. To allow time for arranging the memorial
“My grandmother was cremated and the service was planned out so that everyone had time to make it from their scattered homes to attend. Cremation allows for time to plan a service that is thoughtful and for family to all make time to get there. It allows for months to pass after the death if need be.” (14)
20. To always be with loved ones
Cremated remains can be put into an attractive urn and kept in the home, often set on a mantle or bedstand, or as part of a special memorial space. This allows your loved one to always be with you in a special way.