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Cremation: What’s involved and what are the benefits?

Cremation or burial. It has long been an emotional debate based on price, religious consideration, flexibility, simplicity, cemetery availability, and even environmental concerns.

There are of course pros and cons to both and this article aims to present you with the facts behind the cremation process and the benefits thereof.

The final decision as to whether the deceased should be buried or cremated should ideally depend on the deceased’s last wishes. But if no wishes were specified, then the decision would need to be made by the family.

First, let’s understand what cremation involves

Some steps entail legal requirements, therefore it’s important for a crematorium to take you through the entire cremation process and what can be left to choice.

1. Identifying the deceased

It’s legally required for the deceased to be identified before a death certificate can be issued. This is typically done by a family member.

2. Authorisation

Official permission must be given to the crematorium to proceed with cremation, and the person responsible for picking up the remains must also be disclosed.

3. Preparing the deceased

This process is managed by the funeral home and usually involves cleaning and dressing. The body doesn’t need to be embalmed unless the family requests a public viewing.

4. Cremation

This takes place in a retort, a specially designed cremation chamber that exposes the body to extreme heat, leaving only the ashes.

5. Collecting the Ashes

Unless otherwise instructed, the remains are placed in an urn and returned to the family.

The benefits of cremation

Cremation, like burial, is a personal choice. One is not necessarily better than the other. Let’s take a look at the benefits of cremation to gain a better understanding of the process.

1. Price

Cremation can be cheaper than burial. You are not required to pay for expensive items, like the headstone, casket, burial plot, or mausoleum.

2. Flexibility

Cremation lets you decide what you’d like to do with your loved one’s ashes. You may scatter them, store them in an urn, or even make them into memorial jewellery.

3. Simplicity

Burial is normally part of a traditional funeral, involving many common rituals such as a wake, pallbearing, coordinating the burial with the cemetery, and more. Cremations are normally not that intricate and focus more on the celebration of the deceased’s life rather than around those left behind.

4. Environmental concerns

Cremation is more environmentally friendly. It usually does not require the deceased to be embalmed, thus avoiding the use of harsh chemicals that can create water and soil pollution. Burial plots also take up land and disturb the earth. New cremation techniques such as aquamation release less carbon dioxide into the air.

5. Cemetery availability

Cemetery plots are becoming scarcer. The cemetery you would like to choose may not even have plots available. Cremation allows you to avoid securing a plot.

6. Religion

Religions are taking a less strict and more relaxed stance on the way we can say goodbye to our loved ones. Speak to your fellow worshippers’ leaders to establish their current position on the matter.

7. Flexible timing

Burials are typically held soon after a loved one’s death. Cremation gives you more time to arrange an end-of-life ceremony, especially if people have to travel from all parts of the country, or even the world.

The decision to cremate or bury your loved one is based on personal choice. However, this article aims to give you a better understanding of the processes involved, as well as the benefits of cremation. May this information further guide your future decisions and considerations.

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