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What is Cremation?

Cremation is the process of burning a deceased body and reducing it to ash and sometimes bone fragments. The ash, also called “cremains” or “cremated remains,” can then be buried, interred in a columbarium, scattered, or kept by the family in an urn as a memento. To cremate a body, a cremation oven is heated up to an average temperature of 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit by pillars of flames in order to reduce the body to ash. Cremation can be an alternative body disposition method to the more historical form of body disposition in North America, the common burial.

Due to the sometimes prohibitive cost of a burial over cremation and the slow departure of American society from the traditions of our elders, cremation has as of recent been considered a more popular disposition method over burials. In 2016, just over half (50.2%) of Americans chose cremation, while 43.5% chose burial, according to a report from the National Funeral Directors Association.

Cremation Guidelines by Religion

It’s not uncommon for cremations to be accompanied by a funeral or memorial service, while many Americans may not know that. Keep in mind that it’s more common to see non-religious people being cremated, since not every religion accepts or condones cremations. Here are some religions that do not condone cremations or prefer burials instead:

  • Most sects of Christianity prefer burial.
  • Jewish tradition is to bury the body.
  • Cremation is forbidden in the Muslim faith.

Interested in what the Bible has to say about cremation? Check out the article.

Here are some religions that support, and at times prefer, cremations over other forms of disposition:

  • Traditionally, Hindus are cremated (with the exception of children and saints).
  • Cremation is generally preferred in Buddhism.

It's also important to keep in mind that you can still hold services, even if a body is cremated. Before the cremation, you can hold a private viewing or wake for those who wish to see the body before it is cremated. You can also hold a memorial service or funeral services without the body present, or with the urn the ashes are stored in.

Why People Prefer Cremation

Besides the decision between siding with religious traditions or a more custom approach, there are often other reasons why someone would prefer cremation over burial. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • More personal: Cremation allows you to choose a final resting place that isn't a cemetery, often making it more personal.
  • Cost: Cremation is usually a more affordable option than burial.
  • Environmentally friendly: Cremation is generally considered more environmentally friendly than burial.
  • Allows the spreading of ashes: Many individuals have favorite places that they ask their loved ones to spread their ashes at once they've passed away. Whether it's a favorite forest or park, a lake, the ocean, or even outer space; there are many options available to those who wish for their ashes to be spread somewhere meaningful. Are you starting to plan a funeral? Try our free funeral planning tool on Ever Loved and use your preferences to get a customized funeral plan.

Choosing the method of disposition will determine where the largest amount of money goes towards funeral expenses. While cremation is much cheaper than a traditional burial, it's still a large expense that most families are unprepared for. If you're struggling to pay for funeral expenses, consider creating a memorial fundraiser. Memorial fundraisers have been used by thousands to cover the unexpected costs of funerals. They're easy to use, free to make, and stay up as long as you need them to.

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Last updated January 12, 2021
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