If your loved one left a living will or end of life instructions, thinking about the benefits of cremation vs. burial might not be necessary for you and your family as you grieve. Because your loved one indicated the type of service they want, you can simply focus on carrying out their wishes.
But if you are left with the task of deciding between a cremation or burial, it can be an overwhelming endeavor. Not only are there emotions and personal beliefs tied to each type of service, but there are also ecological, financial, and considerations that extend far past the time of a loved one’s service.
This post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of all the reasons you might consider a cremation rather than a burial. Rather, it’s meant to highlight a few reasons that might not immediately be on someone’s radar in the first intense moments of grief.
Benefits of Cremation: Time
One of the most important benefits of opting for cremation vs. burial is the element of time.
When you opt for a traditional burial, timing controls many aspects of your service. Typically, a traditional funeral with burial happens within a week–or sometimes two–of a person’s death. It can be even quicker if you want a traditional religious service. Catholic services, for instance, typically happen three days after a person’s death.
Other factors that must be considered when opting for a traditional burial include the schedule of the priest or celebrant of the service. And now, especially in times of COVID-19, restrictions on room capacity and social distancing can play a part.
All of these factors and others that will be unique to your situation can all come to one result: the service must be planned and completed quickly, even if that’s not practical or ideal for those who are grieving.
It might feel rushed in this sense, which can be stressful.
Opting for cremation rather than a burial, however, puts you back in control of a service’s timing. Rather than needing to schedule a burial within the first week or two of your loved one passing, you can wait until the time is right.
That might mean that you can wait until loved ones who must travel can do so safely. Or it might mean that you can have the service in lovely weather, so you can spend time outdoors. Or it might mean that you simply allow people time to grieve privately before coming together for a service.
No matter the reason that matters to you, the logistics of cremation vs. burial mean that you have more flexibility in planning services when you opt for cremation.
Benefits of Cremation: Immediacy
Another benefit to cremation is that your loved one’s ashes are usually stored in an urn or other container of your choosing. This makes them portable. You can bring the urn and the ashes home to keep in a special place. You can take it to a beloved spot in nature.
You can choose to keep those ashes, keep some while scattering a portion, or scattering them all in a location of your choosing. One reason some families opt for cremation instead of a burial is that multiple family members can keep portions of their loved one’s ashes.
Of course this means that because there is no burial plot, there is usually no marked place you can return to “visit” with your loved one once they’ve passed. Often, when one opts for a cremation rather than a burial, they give up a headstone or other marker that tells others that your loved one is buried there.
That isn’t always the case, though. Some people opt for cremation and burial, meaning that at some point after cremation, the ashes (or some of the ashes) are buried in the same manner of a traditional burial. This option gives you the flexibility of planning a service at a later date but still being able to return to a specified place when you want.
This might be an attractive option to families who pre-purchase burial plots in the same cemetery, for instance.
But even if you opt only for cremation, it doesn’t mean you can’t return to a favorite or shared place to honor your loved one. You might opt to choose a special tree that mattered to them, and return there to remember them. Or you might take them with you in spirit when you travel or visit a place you know they would love.
Benefits of Cremation: Finances
When you opt for cremation instead of burial, you eliminate the necessity of land or plot fees that are typical for a traditional burial.
There are other financial considerations when you are deciding between cremation and burial. Planning for these costs can be daunting; but we offer services that can help, no matter what type of service you wish to have.
Cremation vs. Burial: It’s a Personal Decision
Like any other important decision, there are advantages and disadvantages no matter which option you choose. Important considerations include honoring your loved one’s wishes (if you know what they were), honoring your religious or spiritual beliefs, and finding an option that works for you both practically and financially.
We are here to help guide you through this process. Sometimes talking about it helps, and we’re always happy to answer questions. Talking to your loved ones helps, too, so you can understand what their wishes are even if they haven’t written them down yet.