The way Americans view funeral rites has evolved. In 2010, the United States wasn’t in the top 10 list of countries sorted by cremation rate. The rate was nearly 100 percent in Japan, while only 42 percent of people in America preferred cremation over a traditional burial. But the number of Americans choosing cremation has risen steadily since then. In 2016, it stood at 50.2 percent, meaning it’s now a more popular option than burial. If you’re curious about cremation as an alternative to burials, then here are some questions worth asking yourself.
Who Gets The Ashes?
With a traditional gravesite, what you see is what you get. That is, you don’t get anything except the chance to view the gravesite whenever you feel moved to do so. But when someone chooses cremation, it becomes possible to divide the ashes up amongst surviving loved ones. Deciding who gets the ashes can become an emotional point of contention once you’re gone, so it’s best to leave clear instructions about who gets what. If you want your spouse to get the biggest urn and your kids to get slightly smaller ones, then say so. There may still be fights, but at that point, you’ll have made your wishes clear.
Once you decide where you want your remains to be taken for cremation, you can talk to the employees there about dividing up your ashes. It’s not a weird or uncouth request, as places like Legacy Cremation Services have been asked much more unusual questions. You still get a say in determining what happens to your remains, and that’s true regardless of whether you want your remains to be divided six ways, or put in a single urn and scattered over the ocean.
Will It Be Cheaper?
Common sense would suggest that cremation is cheaper than a traditional burial, and that’s true in many cases, but it’s not accurate 100 percent of the time. A simple funeral with a cheap casket may very well be cheaper than cremation followed by an elaborate ash-scattering service in an exotic location.
But let’s look at averages. As of 2015, the average funeral service cost about $7,000, while the average cremation with memorial service cost $3,250. Cremation tends to be a popular option in areas where there’s not as much free land for gravesites, which is why a retiree in heavily populated South Florida is more likely to choose cremation than a farmer in rural Kansas. When it comes to traditional funeral services, grief-stricken family members may spend more cash on expensive caskets and flower arrangements because they believe their deceased loved one “deserves” the best. That’s an understandable impulse, but cremation is simpler by design from start to finish.
Do I Want A Green Cremation?
Everything is going green nowadays, including death. If you’re worried about leaving a big carbon footprint after you die, then you should look into cremation methods that use water instead of fire. A method known as alkaline hydrolysis requires 90 percent less energy than the standard cremation process. But as of 2014, this type of cremation process was only legal in a handful of states, so check the laws in your area before you decide this type of cremation is right for you.
The topic of death isn’t a pleasant one to discuss at dinner, but it is critical to talk about it at some point, regardless of whether you choose an urn, a casket, or something else entirely. Once you’ve asked and answered some questions on your own, let your family members know about your wishes. With any luck, they won’t need to enact those plans for a while, but it never hurts to start preparing early.
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