The percentage of Americans who were cremated reached an all-time high of 50 percent in 2016. Cremation opened the doors for people to hold funeral ceremonies in places that were meaningful to them and gave them more time to consider options. There’s just one problem, and it drives funeral directors crazy: the guest of honor is often conspicuously absent from his or her own funeral. With no body present, people have to imagine to whom they’re paying tribute.
A conversation between a member of the public and funeral director about cremation might go something like this:
Public: When it’s my time to go, I don’t want any fuss. Just burn me up!
Funeral Director: Cremation is a good option, but it’s merely a way of disposing the body. You can have any service or ceremony you want before the cremation.
Public: I thought once you cremated someone, that was it. You put them in an urn or you scattered them.
Funeral Director: Acknowledging the loss of someone among family, friends and associates benefits everyone. Funeral service rituals offer people order and reason at a time when losing someone they love makes no sense to them.
Public: Yes, but who would want to see my dead body?
Funeral Director: Everyone! No, that’s not an insult. Seeing someone after they die helps our minds process that this person’s life has ended, even if a person’s appearance has changed due to aging or illness.
Public: I still like the idea of cremation, but I’m not sure who should get my ashes.
Funeral Director: The easiest solution is to divide them among those who are closest to you. You can also have them buried.
Public: Bury ashes?
Funeral Director: Sure. Most cemeteries have small plots to bury cremated remains to give loved ones a permanent place at which to pay their respects.
Public: I still want cremation, but maybe a little fuss wouldn’t hurt anyone.
What’s your perception of cremation? Do feel like a “little fuss” wouldn’t hurt anyone? Comment below.
Next week’s blog will explore an issue about which funeral directors and the public have perhaps the widest differences in opinions: the cost of funerals.
By Mark Allen
OGR Executive Director & CEO
Have you had a similar conversation?
Email Mark and tell him all about it or comment below.