Cremation or Burial?

The question of cremation or burial is best asked before death, while pre-planning final arrangements. This is a highly personal question, with factors rooted in cost, environmental impact, and religious beliefs. When an individual has not expressed a preference prior to death, the family must evaluate each of these factors and decide the best option based on lifestyle, finances, and what they guess the deceased would have wanted.

The High Cost of Burial Favors Cremation

Burial is expensive, and the price keeps going up as space becomes more limited. The cost of burial can vary due to factors such as the region where you are purchasing, the size of the plot, the location of the cemetery, and availability. Traditional burial also requires a casket, a burial vault, a grave marker, the cost to open and close the grave, the cost for perpetual care of the grave site, and more.

By comparison, cremation is a vastly more affordable method of handling the remains of a loved one. Cremation is a fraction of the cost of a traditional burial, a significant reason why more and more families are choosing it today.

Cremation is More Environmentally Friendly

Cost isn't the only factor that is compelling more families to opt for cremation. An increasing number of people are turning to cremation because it's more environmentally friendly than traditional burial. Some historic burial grounds have remains stacked in graves, with as many as eight people in a single plot. Highly developed urban centers, such as New York and Boston, face a serious shortage of burial space. More and more people in densely populated areas are turning to cremation to avoid contributing to the issue of diminishing space.

Land use is a serious concern with traditional burial. Cremation may create a higher carbon footprint at the time of the procedure, but the land use implications of burial in a single plot outweigh the cremation carbon footprint concerns long-term.

A Religious Perspective on Cremation and Burial

For some, in addition to financial and environmental perspectives, the question of cremation or burial has religious implications. Views on cremation vary by religion. Orthodox Jews are prohibited from practicing cremation, as are some Christian denominations. Islam also prohibits cremation. The Catholic Church, however, has permitted cremation since the 1960s. Many of the more progressive religions do not have a view on cremation and leave it up to the individual and his or her family. Those with religious questions about cremation should speak with their spiritual advisers to determine whether it follows their personal beliefs.

Ultimately, the question of cremation or burial is highly subjective. In the absence of personal objections, however, cremation is a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option than traditional burial.

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