Whenever there is a death in the family, the survivors find themselves in a dilemma as whether they should opt for cremation or burial. If the wishes of the deceased are known, then there is nothing to worry about. But things can become really difficult if the decisions are to be made by the surviving members.
The idea that burial is the only option for internment is an outdated one. Cremations have become vastly more popular in recent years; in some areas of the United States, they are more common than traditional burials. Both options have their advantages and drawbacks.
Cremation Pros and Cons
PRO: It’s less expensive. With no coffin, burial, monument, or plot, a cremation can cost as little as a sixth of what a traditional burial costs. Cremations in Texas can cost as little as $1,000.
PRO: It’s more flexible. Ashes are much more easy to deal with than physical remains. Funerals can sometimes be rushed due to the perishability of the remains, which can be very stressful for loved ones. With cremation, you can take more time to plan a ceremony and consider how much you can spend.
PRO: It’s portable. If you have loved ones or family members who live in different parts of the country, you can plan a ceremony in a place that’s easier for everyone to get to—urns are portable. With a traditional burial, you don’t have as much flexibility in location.
PRO: You can put the deceased to rest anywhere. With a cremation, you aren’t restricted to a cemetery. You can distribute the ashes anywhere that the deceased and loved ones would have felt most appropriate. A drawback to cremation funerals is that you don’t get to have a concrete memorial, but you can re-visit the place where you scattered the ashes, and it may be more meaningful to you than a cemetery would be.
CON: Cremations aren’t available everywhere. Not every community has a funeral home with the proper equipment to perform cremations. Depending on where you live, you may have to do some research and go a little farther afield than you prefer.
CON: Agreement is more difficult. Not every family will have trouble reaching an agreement around cremation. But many families do, especially those with members who have strong religious beliefs or adhere to more traditional expectations.
Burial Pros and Cons
PRO: Burials are more widely acceptable. Burials are the most widely-accepted option—so you are highly unlikely to offend or bother anyone by choosing burial. This option conforms to most Judeo-Christian religious traditions as well, and this can be important especially if the deceased followed one of these religions or many people in the family do.
PRO: You have a place to visit. Family members and loved ones often derive a great amount of comfort from having a specific place to go to remember the deceased. A headstone or other type of memorial can be extremely important to survivors, especially if it is located in a family plot near others who were close to the deceased.
CON: It costs more. Burials can be more pricey than cremation—sometimes a lot more. The burial plot, the time and labor of the gravedigger, the coffin, and other related costs can all add up. In Texas, burials can cost approximately $10,000 on average including cemetery fees.
CON: Cemetery rules can be restrictive. Some cemeteries have very strict rules about the type of monument you can have, visiting hours, flowers and other remembrances, and other points that can be constricting for loved ones who want to mourn. Some forbid the use of cameras on the grounds.
Making the Difficult Decision
Deciding which is right for you depends on your preferences and that of the deceased’s other loved ones. It can be a challenge to get a consensus in such a sensitive area, but whichever side you’re on, it’s important to know both the pros and cons of your preferred choice.