Let’s learn about funeral pyres and open-air cremation.
What is a Funeral Pyre?
A funeral pyre is a construction of wood (sometimes with a base of stone) on which a human body is burned.
Also known as “open air cremation,” the use of funeral pyres is common in some traditions but is not common (or even legal) in most of the modern Western world.
What is Open-Air Cremation?
Open-air cremation is the process of cremation (reducing a body to ash by use of fire) set out in the open. This is done by placing the body on a funeral pyre, then stoking the fire and burning until the corpse is reduced to ashes.
Is Open-Air Cremation Legal in the USA?
No. Open-air cremation or burning human bodies on funeral pyres is not legal in most of the Western world.
However, there is an exception. In Crestone, Colorado, the Crestone End of Life Project operates a legal open-air cremation site where people can be legally cremated on a funeral pyre. You would have to be both a member of their organization and a resident of Crestone in order to qualify for their open-air cremation ceremony.
What Countries Still Use Funeral Pyres?
Other countries that practice open-air cremation include:
… and several other countries in Southeastern Asia
Will Funeral Pyres Ever Be Legal in the USA?
Possibly. Attitudes and ideas about death practices are changing rapidly in the Western world. Contemporary cremation in a crematorium has only been around since the late 1800s. Polite society frowned upon cremation for decades following its introduction.
However, in the last two decades the rate of cremation has risen tremendously. In 2016, the rate of cremation in the USA increased to 50.2, meaning that for the first time more than half of all decedents were cremated.
Now there are many other options for final disposition available and being researched. People ask about “Viking funerals” and being cremated on a funeral pyre all the time, so interest is clearly growing.
But will open air cremation ever be legal in the USA, Canada, Europe, or other areas of the Western world? Only time will tell.
A death anniversary is a peculiar sort of holiday.
After all, how can you “celebrate” a life that is gone, one you so dearly miss? How do you grieve, yet heal? Can you remember a loved one without becoming overwhelmed, or should you try to ignore or forget the day they died?
Or what if you are the friend of someone whose spouse or child has died. How do you comfort them on the anniversary of their loved one’s death? Should you do or say anything?
Here are some thoughts on how to remember loved ones as the years go by.
Today we’re going to be discussing the meaning, definition, and process of cremation. Not just those things, but we’ll start with cremation meaning and go from there into all sorts of fascinating topics.
In short, we’ll tell you what to expect when it comes time for the cremation.
Along the way, you’ll learn the answers to these common questions:
What happens just before cremation?
How does the crematory identify the body?
What goes on during the cremation process?
How long should I expect it to take?
What happens right afterward?
When can I expect to pick up my loved one’s ashes?
Wondering about proper funeral reception etiquette? The answer is probably “yes” if you’ve just attended the service of a loved one, and now you’re on your way to the reception.
Perhaps you’re at a loss for words following the emotion of the day, and you’re not sure what to expect at the reception. You think it’s going to be a bit more laid back than the funeral, and you’re probably right.
But you still might have some questions about what to say and do at the reception. And of course you need the answers fast. We’re here to help with our funeral reception etiquette guide.