No Casket Required: Cremation and Remembrance
posted on 7/5/12 by David Hlavac
Since ancient times, many different cultures have embraced cremation as an important death custom that allows an entire community to say goodbye to the deceased around an outdoor funeral pyre. Certain Eastern religions – such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism – mandate cremation for followers, while the Abrahamic religions tend to discourage or prohibit it.
Today in the Western world, the practice is more popular than ever – though, unlike in India and other Asian countries, cremations are done in private rather than in public. Proponents believe cremation saves time and money, resulting in fewer complications for the bereaved, while protecting the environment from any harsh chemicals that may leak underground as the result of a casket burial.
But even the most vocal supporters of cremation struggle to find meaningful ways to remember their loved ones once their remains are scattered to the wind. Here are a few unique ways to remember your family and friends who have chosen cremation:
Most non-sectarian cemeteries offer entombment or even burial of cremated remains, some in mausoleums or other elaborate buildings called columbaria. In many cases, it is possible to inter cremated remains in the same family plot as casket-buried relatives. Cremation niches are often much less expensive than casket-burial plots, but they also typically have much less elaborate monuments and markers.
Memorial Bricks or Pavers
Why pick just one place to memorialize your loved one when you can remember them in all their favorite places? Many churches and synagogues, parks, zoos and other cultural venues give patrons the opportunity to dedicate a brick, a paver or bench to a loved one. While the cremated remains aren’t usually part of the process, a memorial brick can offer mourners a place to visit and remember.
Today, several companies fabricate custom memorial jewelry as a way to both remember a loved one and preserve their remains for posterity. Options include “memorial diamonds” synthesized using actual cremated remains, dichroic glass jewelry imbued with cremated remains or hair, and even pendant vials made from precious metals that can hold cremated remains.
Perhaps the most popular cremation ritual is scattering ashes in a meaningful, natural setting. While scattering doesn’t necessarily memorialize a loved one in a specific place, it does allow for some creative remembrance options. There are companies that will even shoot your loved one’s cremated remains into space, scatter them in the ocean or drop them from an airplane. One company even uses cremated remains to construct an artificial ocean reef for SCUBA divers. When scattering ashes in a National Park or any restricted location, make sure and obtain necessary permissions and permits beforehand.
Some mourners prefer to keep a loved one’s cremated remains close at hand, usually in a decorative urn or box displayed as a piece of art. Funeral homes offer decorative urns for sale, but these are often intended for display at funerals or visitations and may not be suitable for home décor, depending on the style and design. To guard against accidents, it’s a good idea to place the cremated remains in a sealed bag before placing them in any kind of receptacle.
When it comes to a final resting place, cremation allows much greater flexibility than casket burial. Most importantly, be sure and let your loved ones know your preferences, so when you are gone they can carry out your wishes.
If you’re choosing cremation, how do you want your loved ones to remember and memorialize you? We’d love to hear your ideas.
Want to Work With Us?
Learn more about how we can work with your business