Do You Want to Be Cremated or Buried?

by Amanda Winstead

Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into what we want for ourselves once we pass away because the idea of dying can be tough to face. However, at some point, you will need to make a final decision about what will happen with your remains. In most cases, the decision will be between being buried or cremated. 

There is a lot to consider when making that decision, and we are here to help. Today, we will talk about the costs, family impacts, and other important factors to include in your final choice. 

Where You Will Be Laid To Rest

One of the first aspects that you will need to consider is where you want to be buried or where you want your ashes to go after you pass on. You can make the decision more easily if there is already an existing family plot and you have a space ready for you to be buried. 

If you do decide to be buried, then you will want to consider the costs (which we’ll discuss later) and whether you want to be buried with your family. You should also consider if you want to be buried in a specific location of your own choosing. 

When it comes to cremation, you have several options for what you will do with your ashes. Many people ask that their ashes be spread at a favorite vacation spot or a place from their childhood. Maybe there was a particular hobby that you enjoyed with loved ones, like gardening, reading books in the park, or traveling. If that is the case, then you might want to have your ashes spread in the garden, the park, or your favorite vacation spot. But importantly, you should know that many of these spots prohibit the spreading of ashes. You should check.

Two of the most common places that ashes are spread, believe it or not, are Disneyland and Disney World. It is prohibited there, but it has not stopped it from becoming one of the most popular ashes spreading spots in the US. Disney employees have a special code when ashes are spotted calling for an ultrafine vacuum cleaner to be used. 

Spreading ashes in the ocean is prohibited within three nautical miles of the seashore. There are firms that will bury ashes at sea inside ocean reefs. And there is a company called Celestis that can send your cremated remains into space for a fee. Then, your loved ones can use an app to track your progress as you travel among the stars.

Another option is to have cremated remains placed in an urn and kept on a mantle or shelf in a family home. Eventually though, families will probably look for a more permanent solution as families grow and generations follow. Cremated remains can also be made into jewelry.

Cost Considerations

Another reason to make a decision about burial versus cremation sooner than later is that you or your family will need to pay for the cost of fulfilling your wishes. You will really need to think about the financial situation of yourself and your family because the cost of each service can be radically different.

As far as a traditional burial is concerned, you will need to pay for the preparation of your body for viewing, the casket itself, the hearse rental, the grave, and the headstone. Embalming is optional. Then, you will need to decide if you want to be buried in a vault, which protects the casket from dirt and elements, or if you want to be placed in a mausoleum space. All in all, the average cost of a funeral with burial is typically around $8,000. 

Of course, you can save money on your burial casket by looking for discounts online or trying a store like Costco. Also, if you plan ahead of time, you can secure it with a preneed trust or insurance policy that will pay for the service. You can also make your wishes known, so your family can prepare and won’t need to worry about paying after the fact. 

When it comes to cremation, the final cost will come down to whether you want simply to be cremated or if you also want a funeral and a viewing service or an offsite celebration of life event. The cost of a direct cremation can be only in the hundreds of dollars. You will also have the cost of the cremation urn itself, which is often between $70 to $2,000 based on the build and design. Then, if you pair that with a viewing and funeral, then you will be looking at closer to the $6,000 range. Make the cost a part of your final decision. 

Other Considerations Unique to You

There are some other aspects that you may want to consider when making your decision. For instance, if you follow a certain religion and it is customary to do things a particular way, then you may prefer to stick with that. In case you are not aware, the Catholic Church is generally not against burial or cremation. In the Jewish faith, however, cremation is forbidden in many circles. Also, the Muslim faith is against cremation, but the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism actually require it.

You may also make many of your decisions based on the environmental impact. If you are buried, then consider the fact that most caskets are not biodegradable and that embalming fluid can pollute the earth. However, the cremation process affects the environment in a different way that you may want to consider. It releases carbon dioxide emissions into the air.

Finally, think about what will be going through the minds of your family after you pass. It will be a tough time for them, and they will need to make a lot of decisions as they grieve. If you decide to be cremated, then you take out a lot of the work and your family can focus on comforting one another. However, many families appreciate the idea of seeing you in the casket one last time as a form of closure. So, think about your personal family relationship as part of the equation as well.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when deciding between burial and cremation. By thinking about the cost and the family impact, you can make the decision much easier.

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Twitter.

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