With the rising costs of funeral expenses, many Americans find themselves torn between burial and cremation. In this article, we will review the primary differences between burial and cremation, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of choosing either as your end-of-life request. Keep reading to learn more.
What Are the Differences Between Burial vs. Cremation?
Humans have been burying their dead for at least 100,000 years. Burial can be loosely defined as placing a body in the ground, but burial traditions vary according to culture, status, and the availability of certain resources. Throughout history, the most common forms of interment included sky burials, mummification, in-ground burials, as well as above-ground burials in mausoleums or crypts.
Although pyre burning and other forms of immolation have been carried out over time, the first cremation in America took place in 1876 after Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first crematory in Pennsylvania. Cremation is the process by which a deceased body is exposed to excessive heat until it turns into ash. Modern crematoriums employ large gas or propane furnaces that generate fire with temperatures as high as 1,500 to 1,900°F. Unlike ashes found in fireplaces or campfires, cremated remains, or cremains, contain a mixture of coarse sand-like powder and sharp bone fragments. The process of cremation essentially destroys all traces of organic, carbon-based matter and fluids. After about two hours, the ashes are put in a sealed container and returned to the family.
Advantages and Disadvantages to Choosing Cremation
One of the greatest advantages to choosing cremation is that it is far less expensive than a traditional burial. Burials encompass embalming, the coffin, burial, plot, and monument expenses as well as the time spent maintaining memorial displays after laying a loved one to rest. Cremation does not require embalming so long as the service will be carried out quickly. Cremation ceremonies also allow families and those in mourning more time to prepare. Funerals are often fraught with hurriedness and the stress of organizing a final farewell. Furthermore, cremation ceremonies can take many forms. Most people prefer to host ash scattering ceremonies to achieve a sense of finality and closure.
Although cremation is more affordable and less stressful than traditional burials, there are certain disadvantages to choosing cremation as an end-of-life service. Cremations leave family members without a formal place to mourn, unless you decide to memorialize an ash scattering site or display an urn at home. Burials provide a physical place where mourners can visit and grieve. Family and friends of the deceased may prefer a place of tangible consolation.
Burial vs. Cremation: Religious and Spiritual Preferences
There are many misconceptions about cremation where religion and spirituality are concerned. Ancient civilizations practiced four primary methods of disposal. Greek and Romans believed in only the immortality of the soul and saw no reason to pay special attention to the bodies of their deceased. Similarly, Hindus believed in reincarnation and would burn the dead in order to rid any sense of attachment from soul to body. Egyptians carried our mummification to preserve corpses indefinitely. Members of the Christian faith began burying their dead for several reasons: reverence of man made in God’s image, centrality of incarnation, Holy Spirit indwelling, and Jesus’ resurrection.
Christians are usually concerned whether cremation is biblical, but there is no specific rule or guideline pertaining to cremation in the Bible. There are several denominations of Judaism that prohibit cremation. According to Jewish law, or “Halakha,” the dead must be buried on land. However, the choice to be cremated is seemingly less taboo today than it has been in the past. Before making your final decision, we recommend that you consult your spiritual leader to determine whether cremation aligns with your own beliefs and wishes.
If you have any questions about burial vs. cremation, please contact Legacy Headstones today for additional information or further assistance in taking the next step.