Even though cremation is getting to be a choice that more families are choosing, it’s still a mystery to many people. As a child growing up in funeral service, I can still remember riding in the back seat of my parent’s car on the way home from a continuing education conference. That conference was about cremation. I was very young, but I still remember the conversation as my parents started planning on ways to not only offer this service to families, but how to make it meaningful.
To give you a better idea of how fast the rate of cremation has changed since I remember them talking about it in the car, here are some statistics I found on CANA’s website: “In 1999, there were 1,468 crematories and 595,617 cremations, a percentage of 25.39% of all deaths in the United States. By 2009, there were over 2,100 crematories and over 900,000 cremations…and 36.84% of deaths in the United States were handled through cremation, a percentage that is expected to grow to over half of deaths by 2018.”
Even with the percentage growing so fast in the United States, it’s a topic that can be overwhelming and hard to process. It’s also a topic that is hard to talk about. I remember talking to a precious couple who had been married for years. They told me they already decided on cremation. Then after we talked for a while he said, “I know we said we would be cremated, but if I die first, I can’t stand the idea of burning her”. Then a few months later, one of my dear friends was really struggling with trying to explain cremation to her young children. Their grandmother passed away and was cremated after her funeral service. When the grandchildren started asking questions about the meaning and concept of the cremation process, my friend had a difficult time explaining it. Yes, cremation is an intense process that does use fire. But, in my opinion, perhaps an understandable way to say what happens to our loved one during the cremation process could sound something like the following. “Cremation is the reduction of a loved one by the application of heat”. This is another way of saying it without using the emotionally heavy word “burn”.
One of the main Myths about Cremation is that you can’t have a funeral or service if you choose cremation. We have to explain (a great deal of the time) that you can choose cremation to occur before or after the service. If you choose to have cremation done before the service, then the term we associate that with is referred to as a memorial service. A memorial service is a service that is held without your loved one’s body present. You can choose to have the cremation urn present during the service. Most families like to have pictures of their loved ones present during the service. If you choose to have the cremation done following the service, it is called a funeral service. If you choose this option you can still have a visitation and a viewing of your loved one.
Another myth is that cremation is cheaper. As a matter of fact, every time I tell someone that the rate of cremation increases each year, people usually say ”Well, it is because it’s cheaper, right?!?!” The answer is that it can be, however it is such a personal decision with more options than anyone could ever realize that it may turn out being more expensive than originally planned. One of the main reasons cremation is increasing in popularity is because we live in a very transient society. The majority of people don’t stay in the same town they’re born in, and it’s also very rare for multi family generations to still remain in the same town. People move for many different reasons that include: jobs, family, retirement, etc. As a result, they gravitate to the option of cremation because they feel like they will always have the option to be able to carry their loved one with them. This is a very meaningful reason, but I would also like to add my personal opinion on the matter. That opinion would be to always create some sort of “permanent memorial”, because with grief you often still need to have a permanent place of memorial where you can go and grieve. It is important to consider creating permanent memorials, Cremation memorials, keepsake and jewelry memorials in order to honor everyone and their family’s emotional needs. And this is possible because the funeral home that you choose can help you divide your loved one’s cremains accordingly and in a respectful manner.
Another myth is that a Cremation Society is always cheaper than a funeral home. This isn’t necessarily true. Oftentimes, a Cremation Society might charge “membership fees” or other “fees”. However, with our funeral home and crematory, we don’t charge “membership, enrollment, or annual fees”. Remember, extra fees or unnecessary “fees” can add to the cost of the cremation that are not necessary. So I would advise you to ask questions. Also, ask for a breakdown of what is included with their cremation. For example, ask if a temporary urn is included? Also, ask about hidden or unnecessary fees. It’s important to become familiar with what cremation means and what is included with each provider (cremation society, funeral home, or crematory) that you may call/visit and ask questions.
With any death, the process of making final decisions for your loved one can be overwhelming. Remember to call, ask questions, take notes, and reach out for help. It might feel like your world has stopped for the moment, but many others have walked in the path of impossible choices with a broken heart who can be a vital sounding board. Your friends want to help you during these moments, so you could even get a trusted friend to call different places and help you find the answers to the unknown questions.
Also remember that our funeral home family is always available to answer questions, even if you are at another funeral home or crematory, we can help provide you with the peace of mind you need by answering any questions that you are unsure about.
As always, we remain “A Family Serving Families®….Since 1950” ,