When they choose cremation
Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences you’ll ever go through. A lot of strong emotions are attached to the grief you’ll experience—including anger, denial and depression. Stress shouldn’t be one of them, which is often why loved ones will discuss their wishes for their final arrangements before their death.
When wishes are made known to a lawyer, a funeral home, or simply told to family or friends, there is significantly less stress on those left behind. You can set yourself at ease knowing this was what your loved one wanted.
However, even if we know a loved one wishes to be cremated, knowing what comes next and what it means is another thing. This may be the first cremation in your family and you may have a lot of questions about the process and options available to you.
If your loved one has chosen cremation as part of their final arrangements, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
1. Cremation is popular
Cremation is more popular than you think. In 2015, the cremation rate in the United States rose to 48% and is estimated to reach 71% by 2030 (“Cremation Rate Rises…as Public Attitude Changes”, CANA). Many experts believe that it is rising in popularity, in part, because it is always offering new options and traditions in commemorating the life of a loved one. “With cremation, families have more flexibility in the timing and locations of memorial services, and many options for creativity and personalization in and how and where their loved one’s remains will be placed” (Timothy R. Borden, president-elect of CANA). Cremation services are also offered by most funeral homes, making them more and more accessible.
2. Ashes can be buried
You can still have a burial with ashes. Family plots can (and commonly do) contain buried urns holding ashes. Often, smaller burial plots can be purchased at a cemetery for a more cost-effective burial. Other common resting places for ashes include columbarium/mausoleums, urn gardens and scattering gardens.
3. Ash scattering is not illegal
Ash scattering is not illegal. Deciding the final resting place of your loved one’s cremated remains is a personal decision, but scattering their ashes is not out of the question. Oftentimes, your loved one may have left a request on where their ashes should be scattered. Check your local laws before making any plans to scatter ashes. A great legal resource to investigate local scattering laws is nolo.com.
4. You can be creative
Ashes allow for creativity in the grieving process. They are easy to transport, and therefore allow families to find unique final resting places. Scattering ashes by water, at favorite vacation spots, or even by air are just a few of the many new traditions available to people. Some of the more popular options and traditions that involve cremated remains include:
- Cremation jewelry
- Space release of ashes
- Mixing ashes with soil/planting with a tree
- Water scattering of ashes
- Scattering ashes by air
The important thing to remember is that there are an infinite number of traditions available to you and your loved ones. As an increasingly popular decision, cremation allows your loved one to make decisions that best suit their character and personality, and create new and unique ways to remember them when they’re gone from this earth.