Let’s Talk: Cremation or Burial?

Know your options when it comes to this important decision.

Cremation or burialPhoto: Arbor Memorial

There are many factors to consider when choosing between cremation and burial. Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind, but for many people, the decision isn’t as straightforward as it seems. For one thing, you don’t exactly choose between cremation or burial—you can opt to do both.

Here, we answer some of the questions you may have about cremation and burial.

What is burial and what is cremation?

Burial refers to the act of placing the deceased into a casket, which is lowered into a grave below ground, or entombed in a crypt above ground. Cremation is performed by placing the deceased into a casket which is then entered into the cremation chamber, the technical process through heat and evaporation reduces the human remains to bone fragments. A casket or suitable container is required for cremation, just as it is for burial.

How do I choose what’s best for me?

There are several things to keep in mind. Your personal views about the physical processes involved may affect your decision. Some cultures respect specific traditions or religious requirements following a death, so that may factor into your decision as well.

Then there are the financial considerations. Cremation is perceived as being a more affordable option than burial, but that’s not always the case. “Burial or cremation is a choice of final disposition for our body, and there are many other decisions involved in the process,” explains Shannon Burberry, funeral director at Forest Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery in London, Ontario. “The financial piece varies with those choices.”

Burberry has seen an increase in the number of people choosing cremation. “In my experience, I believe it is a highly personal preference,” she says. “The decision could be cultural, religious, spiritual, environmental or simply what they envision as a final resting place for their body.”

What if my preferences differ from my spouse’s?

This is an important discussion to have with your partner. Keep in mind that there are options if you want to be together forever but your preferences differ. “Our funeral homes and cemeteries have qualified professionals to assist with answering any questions, and they can also provide literature to assist with the planning process,” says Burberry.

What are my options for a permanent memorial if I choose burial or cremation?

Burial and cremation both offer creative solutions when it comes to a permanent memorial. With cremation, you can choose from a wide variety of classic or contemporary urns. Outdoor options can include granite benches, memorial trees, cremation gardens, sundials, birdbaths or natural rocks. And you may be surprised to know you have the option of in-ground burial for cremated remains, as well. “Most of our client families choose a permanent resting place within a cemetery,” says Burberry. “Others wish to take the urn home, some with the intention of scattering the cremated remains.” Burberry has also received requests for multiple urns and for cremation keepsake jewelry.

With burial, there are many ways in which to be remembered: You can choose from earth burial with a granite monument or bronze marker or an above ground crypt in a mausoleum. “As a funeral professional I would like people to understand that particular decision is only one of many that are to be considered,” says Burberry. “Honouring the person’s life as an individual in a way that brings comfort to their friends and family is key.”

Still not sure which to choose? Arbor Memorial’s local funeral and cemetery specialists can provide you with more detailed information about your options. Go to arbormemorial.ca for more.

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