Should You Choose Cremation for Your Final Arrangements?

7 September 2016
 Categories: Relationships & Family, Articles


If you are concerned about leaving your loved ones with the task of making your funeral arrangements and paying for your final expenses, you are not alone. Many people worry that their death will cause a financial and emotional burden on those that are left behind. That's why some are opting to make the arrangements themselves before their passing in order to alleviate confusion and stress when the final moment arrives. If you have decided to give this final gift to your family and friends, there are some things you will need to consider. The major decision is whether your remains will be buried via traditional methods or if you will be cremated. Consider these facts about cremation before you make a decision.

Why do so many people choose cremation?

Many people cite cost as the major determining factor when they choose cremation. According to The National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a traditional burial in 2014 was $7,181 without a vault and $8,508 if a vault was included. This does not account for the cost of a burial plot in a cemetery. It further cites the median cost for a cremation with a viewing and funeral services was $6,078. However, according to a 2011 report in Money Talks, choosing a cremation without a viewing or funeral service costs about $1,000.

Do you need to have a viewing and funeral?

Whether you choose to have a viewing and funeral is a personal choice, but bear in mind that if you decide you want a viewing before the cremation, you will incur the additional costs of preparing the body for viewing, such as embalming costs and the cost of the casket. Many funeral homes rent caskets for the viewing, as a body that will be cremated does not need a casket. The body is cremated in a simple wooden box. Some reasons to hold a viewing or funeral service include:

  • Providing closure for family and friends
  • Allowing family and friends to pay their respects and say goodbye to the deceased
  • Meeting the needs of some religious beliefs and customs

Are there other choices besides a viewing and funeral service with a cremation?

Yes. You can choose to forgo the viewing and hold a funeral service with the urn of the deceased's ashes present. Displaying photos or a media show of photos of the deceased allows family and friends to connect with the deceased and pay their last respects. This option will require an additional fee for the service but will eliminate the fees for preparing the body for a viewing.

Other options include a graveside service, if the ashes are to be buried; a private celebration of the deceased life held at another location; a service held as the ashes are released in the desired location; or other personal services held by the family.

Do the ashes need to be buried?

No. After cremation, the family will be presented with the cremains, and they are free to bury them if they wish, but this is not required. In fact, many cite the fact that they can take the ashes with them wherever they go as one of the reasons for choosing cremation. If your family moves to a new location, the ashes can be taken with them. This eliminates the stress and discomfort of having a loved one buried at a distance from the family.

Regulations regarding the disbursement of the ashes vary from state to state, but as a rule they cannot be disbursed on public property without a permit or permission from the municipality. Burial in a public cemetery requires a plot.

While visions of casting your ashes to the wind and letting it carry you over your favorite landscape may seem romantic, spreading ashes really doesn't work that way. Human cremains are not dust, like you see in the movies. The remains are similar to aquarium gravel and are typically stark white. They will not fly away in the breeze or float on the water. For this reason, they may be sprinkled on the ground and covered lightly with soil, but the final decision is up to you and your loved ones.

The cost of a cremation and any associated services varies. Call your local funeral home to discuss the options as you make plans for your final arrangements. Click here to find out more.