Cremation, A Popular Funeral Alternative

Cremation urn at funeral ceremony with floral arrangement

Cremation, A Popular Funeral Alternative

By Gregory Robertson, CFSP

Why Cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing human remains to bone fragments. The resulting fragments are pulverized into very fine particles, often called “ashes” or “cremated remains.”

Many people choose cremation as final disposition and that number is growing every year. More than 50% of all deaths in the United States now result in cremation.

There are many reasons why so many people are choosing cremation today. The prevailing reason is the increasing acceptance of the cremation process in our culture along with the cost of cremation being very much lower than traditional burial.

Most religions today accept cremation. However, new, innovative, and creative memorialization trends are more the focus today than the traditional graveside service and burial.

Our modern society has made a break with the family structure and the traditional family nucleus. This has often resulted in the separation of family members across the nation and, along with lower pricing, has made cremation the preferred choice of disposition for many people.

Eco-consciousness tendencies in consumers and increasingly higher levels of education also tend towards higher rates of cremation.

Cremation Options

The following are some of the cremation options offered by most funeral homes, but you are not limited to these options. You can choose between cremation packages, or you may itemize services off the facility’s general price list.

Traditional Chapel Service Followed by Cremation

This choice includes a traditional Funeral Service with your loved one lying in State in a casket selected by the family. A Clergy member or a Celebrant will officiate, with music and eulogies included.

Cremation with a Chapel Memorial Service

With this choice, the cremation takes place prior to the Memorial Service and the urn containing the “ashes” is present. A Clergy member or a Celebrant will officiate, with music and eulogies included. Embalming is not required unless a public viewing is chosen by the family.

Direct Cremation

A Direct Cremation does not include a viewing or a Memorial Service. This is the least expensive choice.

Most families choose the Chapel Memorial Service option.

A Lasting Legacy

Many families choosing cremation today consider leaving a lasting legacy prior to cremation with the gift of organ donation. Thousands of lives are saved each year as heart and kidney transplants are provided to those in need. Whole body donation is also invaluable for medical research and training. Directly impacting patient care today and for generations to come, it is both a selfless gift and a wonderful way to honor your loved one through organ transplant tissue donation. Either cremation or traditional burial may follow the donation process.

What About the Cremated Remains?

As with the cremation itself, there are several options for selection the final resting place of a loved one. Here are just a few for your consideration;

  • Inurnment in a Columbarium.
    Many cemeteries and even some churches have a Columbarium where a niche is available to place your loved one. A Companion Niche is usually available for a married couple to be placed together, side-by-side.
  • Retired military service members and veterans are entitled to inurnment in a National Cemetery. The cremation urn may be placed in the Columbarium or be buried in the cemetery grounds. This valuable benefit is for both the service member and their spouse. Military honors may be rendered, and the flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate will be presented to the family at the conclusion of the committal services.
  • Scattering of the “ashes” has become very popular in recent years. Very often a family will choose to scatter them in the ocean, a favorite fishing spot, or some other significant place in the loved one’s life.

As I have in past articles, I would remind and encourage you to consider making your arrangements in advance. Your local funeral director will help you with making affordable choices. You will be shown the many options available and be able to make your selections while locking in todays prices.

Greg Robertson may be reached at or by calling (843) 214 4191.