As the years go by, more and more people are starting to choose cremation over the traditional way of being buried after they die.
Interestingly, the 2017 National Funeral Directors Association Cremation and Burial Report found that about 50.2 percent of Americans chose cremation in 2016, while 43.5 Americans opted for a traditional burial. The report predicts that by the year 2035, over 78.8 percent of Americans will choose cremation over traditional burial.
However, interestingly enough, many Americans are still unaware of many of the benefits associated with cremation. For example, 32 percent of people who choose cremation don’t have a funeral service or memorial service. And that’s because about 52.2 percent are not aware that they can still plan a cremation funeral.
Our role as a cemetery and funeral home, and as funeral directors is to help make sure families in South Florida understand all the options available to commemorate their loved one’s lives. so today, we’ll be looking at some benefits of cremation and hopefully answer some questions about this popular choice.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5 Benefits of Cremation Americans Should Consider
When pre-planning your own burial or making decisions about the burial of a deceased loved one, burial or cremation is one of the first things you should decide. We found a handful of benefits of cremation to help your decision.
The cremation process, depending on where it’s being done, costs much less than buying a casket and a larger burial plot. Depending on many factors, a cremation costs around $2,000, and you can shop for a very nice urn for around $100 to $200, compared to a casket that could cost two, three or four times that total amount, and it’s obvious that cremation is the more cost-saving option.
Similarities Combine Convenience and Tradition
Cremains placed in an urn will cost much less than buying a casket, but some people still choose to do a burial. Burying the urn at a gravesite or at a crypt, like at The Gardens of Boca Raton – Cemetery and Chapel is quite common. Also, you can still have a funeral service for either method, so little changed in that manner. Family members can choose to go with the less expensive route of cremation, yet still, hold onto tradition by burying those cremains.
Easier to Handle
For those that don’t want a complicated funeral service held, they can choose to have a memorial service at a peaceful location, and they can choose to have their ashes spread there, as opposed to burial. But even burying cremains in an urn or entombing them in a crypt is easier than a traditional funeral.
Go Green! – Cremations Take Up Less Space
As the earth’s population grows, there are more and more burial plots needed, which means land is being used that can’t be reused at a later date. By choosing cremation, you can be buried in a smaller site, or you can choose to have your cremains entombed at a place like The Gardens of Boca Raton – Cemetery and Chapel. As a matter of fact, it’s even common to have multiple cremation urns buried in one family plot or crypt.
A More Popular Choice
This sounds like an odd benefit, but as more and more people choose cremation over traditional burial, it’s becoming a trendier choice. The more people that do choose cremation, the more people that don’t understand it are exposed to its benefits.
Cremation with Services
Most of us are familiar with the concept of direct cremation, which basically means the cremated remains are handed to the family without a memorial service. Choosing cremation with services can help families have a more comforting experience as they prepare to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Having a cremation with services has advantages on its own, some of the benefits of having a cremation with services include:
- Memorial Service – that allows friends and family to commemorate their loved ones and celebrate the life of the deceased.
- Less Expensive – a cremation service is less expensive than a traditional funeral service. Choosing cremations helps families eliminate many costs associated with funerals such as the casket, headstone cost, and gravesite.
- More Options – there are plenty of cremation storage options that go from family estate benches, cremation jewelry, to cremation beads, and beyond.
While there are several benefits of cremation over burial, remember that you can actually still choose both. You can be cremated and then choose to have that cremains buried or entombed. The Gardens at Boca Raton Cemetery and Chapel will help you with whichever decision you make, and we’ll walk you through all the steps of burial and/or cremation.
How Does Cremation Work?
One of the more interesting aspects of our work is doing the cremation of a loved one. People often ask how a cremation works, and what’s the cremation process exactly?
When someone is cremated, they’re not just placed in open flames.
They are first placed in a temporary fiberboard box, what we call a temporary casket. Then that container is placed into something called a “retort”, which is the brick oven that is made just for bodies, and it fits just one container at a time.
The container goes in on a conveyor and goes down onto a mesh grate inside the retort. The flames inside come from the top and bottom of the retort, onto the temporary container, at an incredibly high temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit – for 90 minutes. This really intense heat – for a long time period – will help reduce the body down to just its basic elements and some bone fragments. The heat incinerates everything in the body’s soft tissues, while also calcifying the bones until they crumble.
After that 90-minute heating period, we then allow for a cooldown period, which goes on for another 90 minutes. The entire cremation process in the retort takes three hours from heating to cooling.
Those times are averages, but a lot of factors help decide how long the body should be exposed to the heat, including the body’s height – the weight actually doesn’t matter as much – and the percentage of body fat to lean muscle mass.
What’s left on the grate are fragile bone fragments collected on a tray, but those pieces need to be granulated so that it can be given to the family. These are some of the longer/bigger bones, like the femur, hip bone or pieces of the skull, and they are placed into what’s called a granulator.
The granulator grinds it down into fine dust, which is then swept into a bag, except for what’s left over, like foreign items like a hip replacement or a pacemaker. For these reasons, we ask that bodies aren’t cremated while wearing rings or watches. Some of the other non-consumed metal objects, like screws, nails, and hinges that might come from the casket itself are also removed.
We might also find dental work, prosthetics, implants and other objects that we end up manually removing either with forceps or with strong magnets. These metals are all removed and disposed of according to local laws.
That also includes dental work and biohazardous waste that we don’t put inside the cremation bag, which includes fillings and other foreign objects inside the body.
Interestingly, pacemakers are removed before the cremation takes place because of the batteries inside the pacemaker. Those batteries can explode inside the retort and do damage to the brick walls inside the oven. Metal objects that go into the granulator can certainly do some damage to it.
How a cremation works can be broken down into the concept that the body is incinerated at high temperatures with a high, dry heat, which vaporizes most of the body, leaving the remains that gets placed into a bag for loved ones.
Is Cremation Right for Me?
People that plan ahead and make tough decisions early on in order to keep their family from making such decisions in times of grief often pre-plan their funerals.
That could mean anything from telling your family members where you’d like to be buried, whether during informal discussions or in their legal will, but preplanning your funeral could also mean paying for it ahead of time and choosing what happens to your body after you’re deceased.
Cremation is the process in which a deceased body is burned, breaking down the bones and vaporizing soft tissues at high temperatures, leaving just the ashes of the body to be buried or placed in an urn.
End-of-Life Plan: Discussion About Cremation
One of the major questions people ask themselves when preplanning their funeral is if cremation is right for them? What are the advantages of cremation, and what are some of the disadvantages?
Cremation is Less Expensive Than A Traditional Burial
Choosing cremation over traditional burial will save your family a lot of money because they don’t necessarily have to buy certain things. For instance, a traditional casket is not necessary for them to be cremated in, even though a funeral home might try to sell you one.
Also, you might not choose to be buried, instead choosing to have your ashes placed in an urn or spread somewhere. This means you won’t have to pay for a grave site or a tombstone.
You will, however, have to pay for the cremation process, which is much less than traditional burial, but it’s a cost others don’t have to pay.
Not All Religions Approve of Cremation
Death is certainly an accepted event in all religions, but many religions differ on how the body is treated afterward. For the most part, many religions are fine with cremating the remains and either burying the ashes, storing them in a columbarium, or other methods of storing the ashes.
The Ashes Can Be Placed In Several Areas
Urns full of ashes are mobile and shareable. In other words, the family of a deceased person might choose to share the urn, taking turns with it on their mantles or shelves through the years.
Another option is having the ashes of the deceased family member or friend spread someplace that is beautiful and meaningful to the person. But in many states, a permit is required to spread the ashes in certain places, like state and national parks.
An urn of ashes could also be buried in a special place on a family member’s property, where a memorial bench or memorial tablet is placed to remember them by.
Statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association and Cremation Association of North America reports that cremation is becoming so popular that more than half of all funerals will include creation before 2020.
When people begin considering cremation as an alternative option to traditional burial, they might come across the word “columbarium,” without a clear understanding of just what it means.
A columbarium is a building that has niches all around it where funeral urns are stored. A columbarium can also be considered just one niche use to store one funeral urn.
With that in mind, where else can someone store cremains?
Five Storage Options For Cremated Remains
While a columbarium is a common place to store cremated remains, there are several other options. Why would you consider other options? Because cremation is often a less expensive option than a traditional burial in a casket. An urn is where cremated remains are placed for final disposition, but for burial, here are a handful of options.
Think of this as a large room in a cemetery or a church, where there are dozens and dozens of niches – almost like cubbyholes – where dozens of urns are stored. These recessed compartments would be where you’d store urns, so you could visit them as often as you’d like, in a peaceful resting place. You can also personalize the niche with photographs or mementos, commemorating your loved one’s life.
A Burial Plot
Some people might not realize that they can still choose to bury a loved one in the ground, even if they’ve been cremated. Another interesting idea is to bury the urn in the burial plot of another family member, keeping their remains together forever. It’s another cost-effective option.
Entombed in a Mausoleum
One can also be entombed in a crypt inside a mausoleum, which would be alongside others entombed in caskets and urns. While this above ground option seems similar to being stored in a columbarium, it’s actually a bit more expensive because it requires more space.
A Memorial Piece
One of the most interesting options you’ll have for storing cremated remains is to choose to hold them inside a memorial object, like a cremation bench, or even inside an actual grave marker. You can also find memorial rocks that have space for an urn, allowing the loved one to rest in nature, in a place you can visit often. Cremated remains can also be converted into glass, by fusing small portions of the remains with molten glass.
In Your Home
Finally, one of the most common options for storing an urn with cremated remains is just inside your house, on a mantle or shelf, where your family can see and remember them often. One reason this is a popular option is so that the urn can be shared amongst the other members of the families and their houses. For instance, if a parent dies, their grown children can share storing the urn over their fireplaces in their own houses.
While a columbarium is a relatively traditional place to store an urn with cremated remains, it’s definitely just one option. If you live in South Florida, discuss all of your options with the people at The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery and Funeral Services.