In the past decade, cremation has become more and more accepted in the US as the number of cases approach one million annually.

There are many factors fueling the growth of cremation, among them:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • Simplicity or convenience
  • Environmental concerns
  • Greater acceptance among religions
  • Mobility of families (oftentimes death occurs in locations away from family roots)

Most think the options for laying loved ones to rest are burial or cremation. However, if you choose cremation a decision needs to be made for permanent arrangements of the remains.

Traditional options for interment (final resting place) of either the whole body or cremated remains are:

  • Cremains (ashes) placed in urn or suitable container and retained by family
  • Burial or scattering at sea, or other meaningful location
  • Earth burial (usually in cemeteries)
  • Entombment (casketed remains in a concrete enclosure known as a crypt)
  • Whole body or organ donation

If a loved one’s final resting place is a cemetery, ashes can be buried in the earth or entombed in a columbarium. Columbarium’s are structures which house many small compartments (niches) for urns. A permanent site provides loved ones a place to go for visitation and reflection.

Once a decision on final resting place is made, consideration on when and where to hold funeral or memorial services is necessary. Some choose to have a viewing or service before the cremation while others have a service afterwards, with or without the urn present. If ashes are to be buried, a memorial service can be done at the cemetery.

With direct burial, some will have a simple graveside ceremony at the cemetery and a memorial service later. Oftentimes, the memorial service is held at a location other than where the deceased lived their final years.

Family and friends need time to grieve and to say good bye. So plan a service and venue that reflects the style and personality of the departed. If they were religious and wanted their pastor or priest to conduct the service, then a church is the ideal setting. If they loved plants and gardening, perhaps a local arboretum or botanical garden would be the perfect setting for their sendoff. More and more, loved ones are planning services at their home.