Cremation vs. Burial

Most families find themselves facing the decision of cremation versus having a burial for their loved one. Whether you plan for the future or find yourself in an unexpected situation, these two options are available for almost all circumstances. Cremation is more affordable and gives families a variety of ways to remember the deceased. While burials are the more traditional choice, they tend to be more expensive. 

What is cremation?

Cremation is a process that uses intense heat to turn the remains of a person who has died into ashes. Cremation reduces the deceased's body to ashes through a process that exposes it to open flames, intense heat, and evaporation. Unlike traditional burials, where the body naturally breaks down over the passing of time, cremation takes only a few hours. Afterward, the ashes are returned to the family of the deceased, and they can fulfill the deceased's wishes or desires on what to do with the ashes.

What is burial?

Burial is the action or practice, also known as a ceremony, of interring a dead body into the ground. Burials involve a coffin lowered into the ground before being covered with earth and dirt. Burials usually follow a funeral service involving the deceased’s friends and family. Pallbearers often carry the coffin to its burial plot in a cemetery or any other outdoor area. Family and friends can choose to leave tokens, flowers, or little treasures at the burial site and they are able to visit the site to remember the deceased. With time passing, the body will go through a natural decay process and become part of the soil.

What is the cost of Cremation VS Burial?

The costs of cremation vs burial can differ throughout the world and on a community-to-community basis. On average, you can expect a cremation to cost around $3000. Here at Colligan’s Cremation and Funeral Services, the cost of our cremation is right under $1500. The cost for a burial differs from the cost for a cremation. The average cost of a burial is around $8000 upwards to $20,000 or more. With both cremation and burial fees, it is also important to consider the extra costs involved. The funeral service will also increase any of the costs involved with the cremation and burial. The location of the cremation or burial ground will influence the cost of transportation, along with the type of service you decide on, which can also increase costs too.

Environmental Impact: Cremation VS Burial?

Is cremation better for the environment than having a burial. There are a number or reasons to consider. You will need to think about the length of travel for people. The process of cremation inevitably releases gasses into the atmosphere which are not released by the burial process. Although, it is also important to note that crematoriums must adhere to strict standards making the process as environmentally friendly as possible. The chemicals used for embalming are carcinogenic and toxic. When an embalmed body is buried, these toxic chemicals can leak out into the surrounding areas and groundwater. Although, the embalming process is not a needed for a burial. The deceased's body can be buried without being embalmed.

There are several eco-friendly funeral options available, from wool to cardboard and banana to bamboo leaf caskets. These minimize the impact on the environment by using sustainable resources and minimizing the amount of wood used. People are increasingly looking for eco-friendly options such as woodland burials, which minimize the impact on the environment. If your loved one had a strong belief in preserving the environment, you may want to factor in eco-friendly options as part of your funeral decision making process. You can also find a few eco-friendly ways to dress the deceased, use alternative coffin materials that have less of an environmental impact, and less impactful travel options to help create a greener funeral experience.

The Process: Cremation VS Burial

An understanding of what happens during burial or cremation can influence your decision.

The Cremation Process: The body is placed into a cremation chamber and subjected to extreme heat. The temperature is so intense it vaporizes most of the organic matter and incinerates the bones, which are reduced to fragments. After a cooling period, they are ground to a finer consistency using a cremulator. The cremation itself takes around 60 to 90 minutes, after which the ashes are allowed to cool, before being transferred to an urn and stored, ready for collection.

The Burial Process: The burial service takes place after the main funeral service. Once the coffin has been lowered into the ground it is the common tradition to scatter soil onto the coffin. Of course, depending on what loved ones want to do, this is not necessary. Some people may choose to throw funeral flowers on top of the grave. When the burial ceremony concludes, friends and family may place floral tributes near the grave, and then the gravediggers will fill the grave with dirt. 

Religious Belief- Cremation VS Burial

Your loved one's religious beliefs can influence your decision when choosing cremation or burial. There are some religions that have various views on cremation altogether, sometimes making burial the only approved option.

Catholics- Historically cremation was banned by the Catholic Church, but these days it is widely accepted. Most Catholic Churches want the deceased's body to be present for Funeral Mass, meaning the cremation would have to wait until after this ceremony.

Eastern Orthodox- The Eastern Orthodox Church prohibits cremation believing that it represents a denial of the acceptance of the physical body. Cremation is forbidden according to Byzantine Canon law.

Orthodox Jews- Cremation is not acceptable for Orthodox Jews, who believe people should be buried in the ground.

Mormons- Mormons do not prohibit cremation, but the Church does prefer bodies to be buried rather than cremated.

Sikhs- Cremation is preferred in Sikh funerals. Burials are acceptable if the situation does not allow for cremation.

Muslims- Cremation goes against the beliefs of Islam, which means Muslims are prohibited from choosing cremation as an option.

Hindus- Hindus believe in disposing of a person’s body through cremation. The body must stay in the home until the cremation occurs. 

Christians- All Christian denominations accept cremation these days after the Pope lifted the ban on cremation in 1963. Historically, cremation was seen as a sacrilegious act towards Christians and God and it represented blasphemy.


Respect for the remains- Cremation Vs Burial-

For people who are deciding between cremation and burial, some common themes and questions recur. One of the most common concerns people express is a want or desire to be respectful of the deceased's memory. For some people, that means preserving the integrity of the body, while for others, the thought of allowing the remains to decay underground is simply unacceptable. In a number of cultures and faiths, viewing the body is an important part of the funeral ritual. Several people, mistakenly believe that choosing cremation as an option makes this impossible. It is not uncommon for a deceased’s viewing to take place before cremation occurs.

Benefits of a Cremation-

There are several benefits to having a cremation. Cremation is far more cost-effective than a burial. Cremation allows you to choose a special way to remember your loved one. These days you can put ashes in tattoo ink, keep then in a butterfly lamp, necklace, and so much more depending on what you are interested in. Cremation does not need a plot of land like a burial, so there is no disruption to the earth. If you like the sound of having a place to visit, such as a grave site, then you need not worry, ashes can be interred at cemeteries for memorialization. Depending on the cemetery, they can be interred in a wall niche or rose garden as well. Cremations are a great option for those who do not want a full funeral service and instead want a memorial service or celebration of life. You can still have a funeral service with a cremation as well. It is up to you as to what you want for your loved one, or what their wishes may have been. 

Benefits of a Burial-

One of the benefits of a burial is that it gives you the option of being placed in a family plot or even starting one. A family plot is when several people are buried with their close family members and their graves become a place of remembrance. This permanent place is helpful in the grieving process for a lot of people. Depending on the circumstances of the deceased, burials also allow family members to see the deceased one last time should they choose to have an open casket. The funeral also allows for a viewing of your loved one if that is wanted. 

Major differences between Cremation and Burial-

The flexibility of Options- A traditional funeral involves a burial and consists of a series of events that the bereaved follow. Most funeral directors will work with whatever your needs are when it comes to funeral needs and making sure the deceased loved ones are supported and happy with the celebration of life that is being planned. Funerals can take place at various venues like a funeral home, a place of worship or a cemetery. Should you decide on a funeral home, they will handle all the planning, meaning the family does not have to spend energy and time organizing an event while they are grieving a new loss. They will be able to pick out specifics of what they want for their loved one. The family can make decisions regarding the funeral, such as casket flowers, readings and eulogies, music, pictures to show to help personalize the event. Colligan Crematory & Funeral Services will help your ideas come to light so that your loved one can be remembered the way you want them to.