By Cher Zavala
Whether you are preparing for your own final arrangements or you are responsible for organizing someone else’s, you have probably already discovered that there is more that goes into a respectful memorial than you expected. After all the details are finalized (the casket, the flowers, the burial plot, and more), an average American burial costs between $7,000 and $10,000. Alternatively, a cremation offers less strain on bank accounts, costing between $2,000 and $4,000.
It makes sense that many families are choosing to honor their loved ones’ lives through cremation services, but how do you distinguish a cremation from a burial during a funeral? Read on to find out.
- Flexibility of Options
Traditional funerals (involving a burial) usually have a strict series of events that the bereaved follow, and most funeral directors are not particularly flexible when it comes to altering the schedule or augmenting the service. Although funerals can take place at a number of venues (such as a funeral home, a place of worship or a cemetery), many funerals are not especially dissimilar from one another.
Of course, there are a number of benefits to such a regimented event. For one, the bereaved need not expend extra time or energy organizing a unique event, which can be agonizing during times of grief. This streamlined process cuts back on costs associated with customization. Funerals are traditional and sacrosanct, and few people regret them.
In contrast, cremation services are almost entirely do-it-yourself. Individuals can reserve their final wishes with trustworthy cremation providers so loved ones have guidelines regarding respectful rituals.
Furthermore, loved ones can craft ceremonies that feel comforting and considerate of their needs in mourning. A cremation service can look exactly like a traditional funeral, or it can look more like a party in one’s home. The opportunities for cremation are nearly endless and provide personalized celebration of the deceased’s life.
- Time Frame for Service
Burials happen fast; even waiting two or three weeks to inter a casket is pushing the boundaries of appropriate funeral behavior. Some cultural and religious traditions require that the deceased is committed in his/her final resting place within a day of his/her passing, and most others expect not more than a week to go by before a proper burial takes place. The funeral ceremony must occur before the deceased is laid to rest, which means loved ones have precious little time to plan and prepare for their final goodbyes.
Cremation services, on the other hand, can occur before or any time after the immolation to better suit loved ones’ busy schedules. Since family and friends tend to spread far and wide, many are forced to forgo funerals due to difficulties associated with work and travel. A flexible timeline for cremation services allows all loved ones to attend and show their respect for the deceased.
- Methods of Resting
A traditional funeral always ends the same way: interment. Whether funeral attendees watch or not, the deceased will be committed to a final resting place underground.
However, cremation services can incorporate one of any number of ways to lay the deceased’s ashes to rest. Unlike burials, cremations allow loved ones to hold onto their deceased while they conceive of the most reverential way to deposit their cremains. Here are a handful of the most popular methods:
- Burial: Cremains can be placed in the ground easier than full caskets, and burial allows loved ones to visit a place to remember the deceased.
- Columbarium: Like a shared mausoleum, a columbarium is a building filled with niches where cremation urns can be safely stored. There are also outside columbaria more commonly called urn gardens.
- Scattering: Spreading the ashes into the world is a way many bereaved loved ones find closure.
- Methods of Memorialization
Cemeteries are becoming stricter regarding the memorialization of those interred. The giant, elaborate gravestone monuments in the oldest and most prestigious cemeteries are no longer allowed to commemorate the modern deceased. Instead, simple, in-ground headstones are the only appropriate memorial markers permitted in most graveyards.
Fortunately, cremation allows for a wide array of methods of memorialization. Urns to hold cremains come in all shapes and sizes, and a loved one’s ashes can be held in a decorative vessel that perfectly matches his or her personality. A memorial bench in favorite place is a popular request, and loved ones can even commission jewelry to carry their beloved deceased fashionably and comfortably wherever they go.
- Ways to Grieve
Graves in cemeteries offer bereaved loved ones a place to visit their deceased during times of mourning. Many people falsely assume that cremation prevents this outlet for grief and remembrance. However, cremated loved ones can be grieved and remembered wherever their cremains lie—or wherever loved ones feel the deceased’s spirit strongest. Cremation does not prevent or obscure grief; instead, it allows survivors to experience their mourning in more personal ways.
Cher Zavala has worked in various industries and written many helpful articles that have been featured on a number of high quality sites. She enjoys sharing her experiences and knowledge with the blogging community.