As you contemplate end of life decisions, you may find yourself considering the choice between a traditional burial and cremation. Traditional burial is still the most frequent choice, but cremation has become increasingly common, as well, with around 44% of those who passed in 2015 choosing this route. Both of these choices have their benefits - so how should you decide?
This choice is certainly a personal one, but it's also a choice that you must make with your loved ones' wishes in mind, as well. Although cremation has been increasing in popularity, it's not necessarily right for everyone. Here are a few reasons cremation may not be right for you.
1. You want to connect to tradition.
Until recently, nearly everyone in the United States opted for a traditional burial. The history of many American families involves traditional burial services, and following similar practices can lend a sense of connection to those who have come before.
Religious traditions can play a role in your choice, as well. Although there has been an increased variance in burial techniques over the past several decades, historically adherents of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have opted for traditional burial in accordance with religious traditions. It's certainly worth talking with your spiritual community as you consider this decision.
2. You want your loved ones to have closure.
Traditional burial can also lend more of a sense of closure for loved ones. Traditional burial symbolizes the completion of a life, as the body is returned to the earth. Conversely, while cremated remains can be buried, they're often scattered or kept. The symbolism of a burial is soothing in a way that cremation may not be.
Additionally, choosing a traditional burial means that you'll give your loved ones the opportunity to come visit your site. This can be a healthy way to express grief and remembrances. Many people are comforted by the ability to go to a gravesite and visit their loved ones who have passed.
And, while one of the main incentives to choosing cremation is often cost, with pre-planning, giving your loved ones the gift of a burial site is actually quite affordable.
3. You want your burial to be environmentally friendly.
Finally, cremation may not be the right choice for you if you want your burial to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
While cremation may seem to have a smaller environmental impact, as the remains take up a smaller area, it has its environmental drawbacks. Essentially, cremation expends a lot of energy, burning vast amounts of fossil fuel and emitting contaminants into the air during the process.
The remains themselves are also not environmentally friendly, as they often include mercury and other metal toxins, which, when sprinkled, can be harmful to the places they land.
The most environmentally friendly option is a natural burial, where the body is allowed to decompose naturally without the expenditure of energy that cremation requires. If your environmental impact is important to you, read our article about natural burials for more information on this process.
Choosing cremation or traditional burial is a personal choice, and there is no blanket answer that is right for everyone. What is true for everyone, though, is that considering options and planning now ensures that you'll leave your loved ones with a legacy instead of a burden.
If you plan now, you can ensure that your family doesn't have to make a guess what you would have wanted as they're grieving. As you're considering whether cremation or traditional burial is right for you, request our free pre-planning kit. Make sure that you have the right information to make the right decision for you and your loved ones.