Cremation has been around for centuries. Ancient Hawaiians cremated their family members, then scattered the ashes at sea, a practice that continues today. The Vikings sent their dead off on a favorite boat which was burned as it headed out to sea. Casket burials are the norm in modern America, but some people are considering cremation for a number of reasons. Below is an explanation of some of those reasons, along with listings of typical and unusual cremation burial options.
Why Some People Are Opting for Cremation
The Money Factor
By the time you buy a burial plot, select a casket, arrange a funeral service and put up a headstone, you are spending thousands of dollars. According to Parting, a firm that provides funeral information to the public, in 2015 the average cost of a funeral in North America averaged from $7,000 to $10,000 dollars. A direct cremation, according to the Cremation Research Council, averaged $1,100. Costs increase if you want to inter the urn at a cemetery or add other extras. Scattering ashes, as allowed by local regulations, is usually free unless you have to charter a boat for a sea burial.
The Green Factor
People that "go green" in life often want to do so when they die. Casket burials take up lots of space, while an urn can fit in a niche of a cremation wall. Go even greener by scattering the ashes, which takes up even less space and puts nutrients back into the earth. The remains are not usually embalmed, which is better for the environment.
The Movability Factor
At one time entire families lived within mere miles of each other. Visiting the graves of loved ones was easy. People in the United States are much more mobile today. Families are scattered across the country, and beyond. Visiting gravesides is becoming more difficult, especially for those far away.
Common Cremation Options Available
Several types of cremation service options are available.
Funeral Service Followed by Cremation
Similar to a traditional burial service, this involves putting the deceased in a casket, usually embalmed, and putting it in a viewing area so family and friends may pay their respects. A service is held, then the cremation is performed. The remains are placed in an urn and interred.
Cremation Followed by Memorial Service
The cremation is performed first, then a memorial service held. The remains are placed in an urn and given to a family representative, who may opt to have the urn at the memorial service. The memorial service may be held right away or delayed to allow those living farther away to attend.
The remains are cremated and placed in an urn and given to the family. A service may be planned by the family at a later date. This is a good option for people who have plans to scatter ashes at sea or at one of the deceased's favorite places.
Unusual Cremation Burials
Some people opt to leave this world just as creatively as they lived their lives. Two unusual options are found under the sea and among the stars.
Becoming a Living Reef
Cremated remains, known as cremains, are mixed with concrete to form concrete orbs. The orbs are placed on the seabed to create an artificial reef. Over time, corals and other sea creatures overtake the orbs, creating new habitat for reef fish. This environmentally friendly burial helps to restore reef areas that were damaged, often due to pollution or the excessive collection of corals.
Shooting for the Stars
James Doohan, known as Scotty on "Star Trek" finally made it into space. His ashes were carried by a Space X cargo rocket to the International Space Station on May 22, 2012. Doohan was joined by the ashes of 308 people, including those of astronaut Gordon Cooper. This is indeed an option for those who always dreamed of spaceflight. Choices usually include a low-orbit trip that just touches the edge of space before falling back to Earth or a full orbit of the Earth before burning up in the atmosphere. Diehard sci-fi lovers may also opt to be sent to the Moon or into the black of deep space, two of the more expensive trips.
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