Cremation sometimes carries a negative connotation with it, due to the way that societies view the burn process involving human bodies. If we go back to the original definition of the word, according to Dictionary.com (based on the Webster dictionary), "cremation," we find it literally means: "to reduce a body to ash; to burn down to an ashen state." Another definition is "to incinerate" or consume by fire.
While the word "cremation" has long carried a negative image in the minds of people, it remains one of the most common ways to handel the death of a loved one in several cultures.
The Psychology of Terminology
Some of the meaning in what we say is in the "way" it is said. For example, we don't say that we would like our family member "burned to ash," or "incinerated." We say that we want their body "cremated." Though the process is the same, the psychological impact in saying the latter is a much less negative result and does not bring to mind the harsh reality of burning of bodies that the former does.
Statistics of Cremation
Around 45% of Americans and over 50% of Canadians now cremate as part of their burial and memorial process of their loved ones. Why? Despite the negative weight the word sometimes carries, it has become a popular method among many and offers an inexpensive way to offer a tribute to their loved ones. For information on this process and what it means, go to: http://www.cremationsolutions.com/All-About-Cremation-Ashes-c170.html.
Advantages to Cremation
There are many advantages to the cremation process. It is one of the least expensive method of disposition available today, saving families and loved ones large amounts of money in the process. This allows the family to worry less about the cost of the funeral which would have been spent on caskets and other more traditional expenses, and focusing instead of the ceremonial or memorial itself.
A SENSE OF PRESENCE
Another advantage is the ability to "keep the ashes" with you after the service. Unlike a traditional funeral where the body must obviously be disposed of by burial following the service, the cremation process allows the family to take the ashes home. Some people report that this gives them a sense that their loved one is somehow still around, even after they are deceased and the service is over. People often place the ashes in vessels called urns which holds the ashes of their loved ones for display or burial.
SCATTERING ASHES AS A MEMORIAL
Cremation also offers the family a chance to pay a special tribute at a location remote from the funeral site. Having the body cremated in a contained location, such as a vase, allows them to scatter their ashes on a favorite site, such as a lake, field, or other special location. This helps the family to feel their loved one has become a part of the universe again in an area they cherished, so that their spirit is a part of the whole environment. This can prove therapeutic for many families or loved ones, and offer a sense of wholeness at the idea that their loved one will always be with them. For information on scattering ashes as a memorial, visit http://www.cremationsolutions.com/Scattering-Ashes-Information-and-Methods-c9.html.
SIMPLE AND PRACTICAL
Another reason some may choose cremation over more traditional funeral preparation methods is that this method is considered more practical and straightforward, with less decision-making to be one on all of the other funeral aspects. For example, you may choose to do a cremation and honor the ashes at the funeral, with an officiant, music, and the whole ceremony, you can choose to have a shorter service, or no service at all. In these cases, the family usually meets at some prechosen spot to scatter the ashes (as described above) as a tribute to the loved one.
IT'S YOUR DECISION
Sometimes it was the wish of the deceased to be cremated. Other times, it is a decision the family made, due to a number of factors they took into consideration at the time of the death of the loved one. This is a very personal decision and should be thought through carefully. But respect yourself for your choice and remember that the body is not the person, the spirit is. And this will live long after the body is disposed of, however it is done.
Q. Exactly what is cremation and the cremation process itself?
A. Cremation is simply the process of reducing the body to bone fragments and ashes through the application of intense heat. With the technology that exists today, the cremation process is very quick, clean, efficient, and dignified as well. A combination of high heat and air, in a specially designed chamber, complete the task. Society has embraced cremation services in recent years. At all times, the remains are treated with care and reverence. A specially designed container is used to hold the ashes and is called a cremation urn.
Q. How popular are cremation services?
A. Society's acceptance of cremation continues the scattering of ashes worldwide. The USA now has a cremation rate of 40%. In the decade of the 90s, Japan's cremation rate was 96% and in places like Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain, the rate was higher than 60%. Within New England, acceptance is now so wide spread that this particular area may lead the nation. By the year 2015, it is possible that one out of every two deceased in the region will be cremated.
Q. Arent cremation services and cremation process against the tenets of most religions?
A. For most of society emphatically "no." The large majority of religions permit cremation or ashes. Greek Orthodox, Conservative and Orthodox Jews tend to oppose it, but those are the only major religious groups that do. The Catholic Church, once opposed to the cremation process, now accepts it and indeed cremations of Catholics have increased significantly in the last twenty years and the church will now allow the cremation urn to be displayed on or by the alter.
Q. Does most of society feel the cremation services are disrespectful of the dead?
A. Now that it is more widely understood, the cremation process has gained acceptance as a "thoughtful" and caring process, usually representing the carefully considered wishes of the deceased. Families have learned that cremation is, after all, preparation for memorialization - not simply a final disposition. Virtually everyone, according to psychologists who have studied the subject of death and grieving, needs to know that the remains of loved ones have been honored and can be visited again. Contrary to what some people believe, the cremation process does not limit one's choices. Cremation, in fact, is only one part in a series of events that lead to longterm respect and remembrance.
Q. Do cremation services rule out a funeral or traditional "farewell?"
A. No. The choice of cremation in no way eliminates a funeral. Society sees traditional or contemporary-type service as often planned to take place before the cremation process - or after it has occurred (sometimes both are done in different locales). Here in Vermont and in most of the country, families prefer to gather at a convenient time for the final committal of the ashes in the cremation urn. A ceremony may be highly personalized to reflect the life of the deceased and, thus, have special meaning for those present.
Q. Are most people in today's society scattering ashes.
A. Yes, most of today's society scatters the ashes. There are many methods of disposing of cremated remains and scattering is the most popular choice. Most all Americans that choose cremation, also choose scattering as the final disposition. We estimate that 65% of cremated Americans choose scattering as the final disposition. Ashes may be placed in an cremation urn, which come in a variety of styles, sizes and materials. A cremation urn serves the same purpose that a casket does with burial; it holds the remains and becomes a part of the memorial site. Popular places for a permanent resting place for the urn are urn gardens, standard cemetery plots or within a niche in an indoor or outdoor columbarium.
Following a cremation service ashes may be scattered in cemetery scattering gardens that are especially created and dedicated for this purpose. A cremation scattering urn can add dignity and ease to the sacred ceremony. This dedicated cemetery property will never be developed for any other use. Often the individuals whose ashes have been scattered in the gardens are memorialized on a special memorial plaque or marker. Scattering ashes on the family property is also a popular choice; in the garden remains the favorite place to scatter ashes. Favorite places of recreation or a place that holds special meaning to the deceased or survivors.
Q. Where do environmentalists stand on the subject of cremation?
A. Increasingly, the cremation process is becoming a popular choice among those concerned with protecting treasured natural resources. With cemeteries in urban areas becoming filled to capacity - and the price of land everywhere continues to escalate - cremation and societies preference to scatter ashes seems to be the most logical, and responsible, means of disposition of remains.
Q. Should arrangements for cremation service with a funeral home or cremation society be made in advance?
A. Having a plan and sharing it with loved ones is one of the most special gifts anyone can give - to help spare family and friends from making difficult decisions at a time of grieving. Nothing can be more thoughtful than making arrangements for a funeral ceremony and for cremation especially, on a "pre-need" basis, and making your wishes known to a funeral service professional, whether it be a funeral home or a cremation society. You may want to specify whether you want a period of visitation prior to the service; whether you want an open casket; whether you want special music and prayers - and what kind, specifically; and of course, you should specify as to the disposition of cremated remains.
Whatever the case, it is important to keep in mind that today arrangements are as individual as the persons for whom and by whom they are made. A ceremony may be personalized to reflect the life of the deceased - and therefore have special meaning for those who are left behind.
Cremation Solutions is located in Arlington, Vermont. We would be glad to answer questions at any time (877) 365-9474