Are you deciding between burial or cremation but want to know a little more about them? Most of us have a basic understanding, but let’s go over some of the details so that you feel comfortable with what each type of disposition entails.
Simply put, cremation reduces a body to bone fragments using high temperatures and evaporation. After being subjected to extreme heat and flame, the remains are cooled, processed into a uniform size and ash-like consistency, placed in an urn or temporary container, and given to the family. From there, loved ones can determine how they want to memorialize a loved one.
According to The Cremation Association of North America, most memorialization options fall into the following three categories:
- Burial/Interment: Cremated remains can be buried in an existing burial plot, placed in a columbarium niche, urn garden or mausoleum crypt, or even converted into cremation jewelry, glass, memorial rocks, grave markers or benches.
- Inurnment: The placement of cremated remains in a single urn or split amongst several urns to give to multiple family members. Urns vary greatly in design, material, and function. Selections range from biodegradable to porcelain and stainless steel.
- Scattering: Remains can be scattered over private or public property, a body of water, or even a cemetery. Choose one location or several, but keep in mind laws and ordinances do apply. Permits are often required and scattering without permission can result in fines.
Traditional burial is a type of final disposition that includes interment of the body in casket. Most often, the body is interred in the ground, though there are other options available, like a mausoleum. Prior to burial, the body is often embalmed, though this may not be absolutely necessary. If a viewing, visitation, or funeral service will be part of the remembrance events, then the body is embalmed.
After the funeral service concludes, the body and casket are transported to the cemetery, where a graveside service usually takes place. Sometime after the graveside service, the casket is lowered into the burial plot by the grounds crew, and an outer burial container is also used to cover the casket. This outer container protects the casket as it degrades and keeps the ground above level.
When selecting burial, first choose a preferred cemetery. Most people are buried in a private cemetery, but veterans have the option of burial in a national or state veterans cemetery. After you select a cemetery, talk to their staff about cost and property options. The most common options are:
- Single burial space (for one person or cremated remains)
- Double-depth space (for two individual persons)
- Family lot (for multiple family members);
- Mausoleum (an above-ground placement of caskets; can purchase a private mausoleum or use a community one)
No matter what you choose, be sure to consider the emotional needs of your loved ones.