Open Accessibility Menu
Hide

Celebrating Four Decades of Quality Care ~ 1982 - 2022

End-of-Life Planning: Cremation or Burial

End-of-life planning can be overwhelming when deciding on the specifics. Do you cremate or bury your deceased loved one? What is the difference between the two? And how do you decide which is better? In this post, we will answer some questions about cremation vs. burial.

What’s the Difference Between Burial and Funeral?

A burial is the actual act of burying the deceased while a funeral honors the deceased. The latter can include eulogies and readings or can be a memorial service that takes place several months or years after the person passes. The body may or may not be present during a funeral service.

What’s the Difference Between Cremation and Burial?

With a burial, a body can be interred in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum with the body being fully intact. Cremations involve incinerating the body so all that remains is ash. The family can choose to keep these ashes in a keepsake, such as a vase, or scatter them in a place that means something to the deceased loved one. They can also choose to bury the ashes in the ground or entomb them in a columbarium. But which is better? Cremation or burial? That’s a personal decision that we will review with the next question.

Download Our Grief and Loss Guide

Is it Better to Cremate or Bury?

Religious and cultural beliefs can play a role in deciding between cremation and burial. However, the decision to cremate can also be based in philosophy or activism. The body decomposes naturally during a burial — which some people may prefer — while cremation hurries the process. Some people think it shows more respect for the person, and their body, if you bury them naturally. Meanwhile, the fact that cremation is environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and saves ground space is attractive to others. Cremation can also be more flexible in terms of memorialization. The remains can be moved from place to place and can be either scattered or entombed. It should also be noted that cremation is irreversible so if one wishes to have a funeral, it would need to take place before the cremation. We’ll elaborate more on the intricacies of funerals and cremations in the next question.

Do You Still Have A Funeral if You Are Cremated?

You do not have to decide between a funeral or cremation. You can choose to either have a cremation after the funeral or simply choose to have no funeral service, just cremation. Some people may opt to have a memorial service in place of a funeral. At this service, people can memorialize the deceased in similar ways they would at a funeral or they could scatter the ashes.

What Do You Call A Cremation Service?

As stated above, we referred to a cremation service as a “memorial service” and that can be used as a general umbrella term. But there are other ways to refer to a cremation service. These include:

  • Witness cremation: Family and friends watch the cremation process, usually through a window.

  • Inurnment: The cremated remains are placed into an urn for display or in anticipation of scattering.

  • Scattering ceremony: Family and friends gather at a place of significance to the deceased and scatter the ashes.

Do You Have to be Buried or Cremated?

We’ve answered a lot of questions about burials and cremations but do you have to do either? The answer is no. Cremation and burial alternatives include the following:

  • Tree burial

  • Aquamation

  • Body donation

  • Cryonics

  • Hanging coffins

  • Memorial diamond pressurizing

  • Mummification

  • Resomation

  • Sea burial

  • Space burial

  • Vinyl compressions

Categories