Today I was thinking about a question that was asked of me the other day and started coming up with so many answers, all real, that I thought it wise to put them all in writing. It was a simple question...I thought...I had answered it hundreds of times with almost a stock answer but in reality I never gave the whole picture. I was asked "Buried or cremated, what other decision is there?" Simple answer right? Buried is buried and cremated is cremated; the decision is what you prefer, it's a matter of choice. That wasn't the exact answer I gave but ultimately that's the gist of it. After the conversation ended and we parted I never gave it another thought until today; this is what I came up with.
Decisions, decisions...OK, you want to be buried, no problem, I can handle that...but...do you want to be buried in a family cemetery, one that only has had other burials of your own family? Do you want to be buried in a public cemetery, one that has many other families buried beside you? How about a specific religion, do you want to be buried in a section of or a cemetery that only houses people of the same faith? How about buried at sea, today it's not as uncommon as you might think. OK, better yet, might you want to be entombed, you know, a mausoleum? Again, there are family mausoleums, above ground mausoleums, public mausoleums, mausoleums built underground, into the sides of hills, near lakes...All for the cost of a small home complete with a new car in the garage and some fine furnishings...NOW we're talking about buying property too! Yep. Then besides all of this you have music to select, flowers, pallbearers, clothing, caskets, vaults, stationary items, ministers, churches, locations, visitation times and the list seems endless! What ever happened to a plain casket, a ceremony and a place in the church cemetery?
Then we have cremation. Similar decisions have to be made when it comes to this type of final disposition. Do we want to have all of the aspects of a "normal" funeral with the only difference being that instead of going in the ground or in a wall we'll cremate? If you do, guess what? Many of the above decisions will still have to be decided upon. A memorial service? Same scenario with flowers, ministers, locations, music, now...movies, an urn. Wait...how about a dove release or maybe balloons filled with wild flower seeds to be released? But we're still not done. What are your intentions for the cremated remains? They can always be kept in an urn on display in perhaps that favorite niche of yours off of the dining room; please stop. Or maybe the deceased wanted to be placed in a Columbarium, or scattered. Scattered? Well, you have the ocean, you have the mountains, you have the Mississippi River for all I know, just use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with someplace special. We're not done yet though...How about being shot into space? How about being mixed with cement to form a "Reef Ball" and placed in the ocean? How about some jewelry? Would you like some jewels made from your loved one? I can get you a diamond if you'd like, maybe some nice earrings that have some of mom in one and some of dad in the other? Oh, the decision process is simple.
I can't finish this post without the mention of Body Donation, Cryogenics, Plastination, Mummification, Calcination and of course the ever eternal Time Capsule. My head is spinning. We, the funeral industry, along with every other entity that has tried to get on the band wagon have made it possible for dieing to be one of the most far out rituals this earth has ever seen. They claim that all of these things AND MORE help the bereaved get through the loss of a loved one and I'm sure for some it does. Maybe if they keep pounding the public over and over with all of this it may be perceived as a necessity some day. But definitely not in my lifetime; thankfully.
After all is said and done, I'm a funeral director and if you want any or ALL of this I can certainly help you...however...When the question is posed to me again about burial vs. cremation, after all of this has been thought out and written down...the answer is still going to be the same as it was before; burial is burial and cremation is cremation and the decisions you make will all be your choice. I will always do what you want but will I ever fully understand why you want it?......Nope.