ASHES TO ASHES 2017
when debating Cremation VS. Burial
- some things get lost -
Christian funerals should include elements of celebration, but not ignore the hard realities of death and sorrow, say ministers.
An essay by Ken Camp...
Christians who debate the merits of burial versus cremation may miss a larger issue — helping people deal with the reality of death, some ministers insist.
Traditionally, Roman Catholics prohibited cremation except under special circumstances — a position Eastern Orthodox Christians retain — while Protestants favored burial but did not explicitly ban cremation.
“Burial practices reflected the strong belief in the resurrection of the body,” Baptist church historian Bill Leonard says.
But those practices are quickly changing. A recent survey by LifeWay Research revealed 4 out of 10 Americans plan to be cremated.
Leonard attributes the shift in practice, in part, to changes in demographics and geography.
“From the colonial period to the late 20th century, space was not an issue. There were wide open spaces that allowed for graveyards on the frontier,” he observed.
The churchyard cemetery — common to Catholic and Anglican churches — became a mainstay of Baptist, Methodist and other Protestant rural churches.
SENSE OF SACRED SPACE:
“There was a great deal of comfort in it at a time when generations lived in the same community and worshipped in the same church. You could sit in a pew on Sunday morning and look out the window, knowing it is where your family has been laid to rest, and when your time comes, you will join them. There’s a pastoral sense of sacred space,” said Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
“With mobility, that had to be renegotiated. Connections to village spaces got lost.
“As space became an issue and as environmental issues came to the forefront — and simply as a matter of practicality, especially — a lot of people gravitated to cremation.”
In some cultures, Christians have a strong tradition of cremation as the preferred method for the final disposition of remains, but some retained the idea of the churchyard cemetery by creating a columbarium at church, where the ashes could be deposited.
INFLUENCE OF ECONOMICS:
Economics often factors into the choice of cremation over burial.
“Funerals have become prohibitively expensive. The funeral industry may have become, in a sense, its own worst enemy,” Leonard noted.
Among some families, ecology tilts the balance in favor of cremation.
“For some, it is about stewardship of land and not taking up space on the earth,” said Robert Creech, professor of Christian ministries and director of pastoral ministries at Baylor University’s Truet Theological Seminary. “They may see it as more ecologically appropriate.
“I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about cremation versus burial. I do think in terms of the grieving process, there is value in having the body present for the memorial service.”
The presence of a columbarium on the church grounds, like a churchyard cemetery, offers a tangible reminder of death’s reality — an element missing from some funerals in the 21st century, some ministers noted. They point to the value of a tangible reminder — whether a casket or an urn — at the funeral service.
DEATH + GRIEF ARE NOT CONVENIENT:
“Having a memorial service long after the cremation of the body interrupts the process. So does another trend, having a memorial service after a private burial,” Creech said.
“Often, the word that I hear in connection with that decision is ‘convenience.’ Death is not convenient. Grief is not convenient.”
Mark Bumpus, pastor of First Baptist Church in Graham, Texas, agreed allowing days or weeks to pass between cremation or burial and a memorial service may be unhealthy. However, he sees value in a private graveside service prior to the more public memorial service, because it allows those who have experienced the deepest loss to deal with it in a more intimate setting.
“It allows the family to grieve within the family or within the circle of a few close friends,” said Bumpus, who is writing a book about funerals. “It drains off some of the deep emotions at the gravesite, allowing them to grieve in a more private setting rather than at the memorial service.”
It also gives family members who might find it difficult to speak at a memorial service more freedom to speak and reflect within the most intimate circle, he added.
CELEBRATE (but don't ignore sorrow):
Christian funerals should include elements of celebration, based on belief in Christ’s victory over the grave, but they should not ignore the hard realities of death and sorrow, said James Heflin, professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary.
“We can’t deny death or pretend grief doesn’t exist. There should be a balance between sorrow and celebration. We must deal honestly with how we will miss someone,” he said.
“There is something about the body — or even the urn, if the body has been cremated — being present. It is about escorting the loved one as far as possible — to go as far as one can go and do as much as one can do.”
Celebration of life should be balanced by acknowledgement of sorrow, he said, recalling words of advice an older pastor offered early in his ministry: “Somebody ought to be sad when somebody dies.”
© 2015 Associated Baptist Press, Inc
THE "BUSINESS END of CREMATION" -
WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:
Loss of a loved one is undoubtedly a challenging time, mainly for the closest family and friends. Not only are you encountering, organization and dealing with your own grief, you may also be responsible to help others, such as small children who may have lost a grandparent or others in the community at large. Many people will offer their help and kindness, but in all actuality, it is a very overwhelming time. Adding insult to injury, there is the difficult and cumbersome task of planning and executing final services and thus funding them. Often your crematory or funeral home will walk you through this process to make it as painless as possible.
Here are a few things you’ll need to do (and pay for) so read them carefully - you will want to be prepared for it all. :
The 1st choice is deciding between a cremation vs. traditional burial. You may want to consider the deceased’s wishes, as well as the cost to you. The cost of cremation considerably lower than burial, but as this is a very personal decision, it must be made by the family consensus.
You’ll require the death certificate and 5 copies, plus the medical release form (from the coroner).
Transportation of the body
Identifying the place of burial or scattering of ashes
You may opt to rent a casket or cremation container for the ceremony only
Newspaper obituary with (or without) photo
A reservation for where you choose the service to be held, whether at a funeral home, graveside.
(A popular choice for cremation is a family park - or a home gathering of close family and friends).
This was re-posted on Jan 5, 2015 - End of Life Planning Blog - Funerary Services. Slight grammatical changes made for clarity
WHY A CREMATION URN?
With the escalating costs of burying our loved ones, an alternative (and very popular) option is cremation.
When cremation is chosen, ashes are stored in a “master urn” - with cute “mini-keepsake urns” containing grams of ash - distributed among close family & friends. What a charming tradition to pass on to the next generation.
Fact is, a cremation urn is essentially a covered-vase, filled with the ashes (cremains) of a loved one. It can be manufactured out of brass, wood, marble, steel, bronze etc - it can even be manufactured of varied ceramic materials, which are more delicate - but not always recommended.
Over thousands of years, civilizations such as the ancient Greeks, Romans & Europeans have utilized cremation urns to honor their deceased. Wealthy Romans sited urns in extraordinary tombs called columbaria (columbariums) which would cost in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars in today's prices.
A quality cremation urn can be purchased in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. You can even personalize the name of your loved one, by purchasing an “Urn Medallion” to affix onto your cremation urn – it’s actually a plaque which hangs over the urn - like a delicate necklace. It is inexpensive, looks classy, and does not have the “cracking problems which commonly arise when a cremation urn is etch with a laser engraving machine. These cracks can happen 2-3 years after the laser etching process, as the laser is so intensely powerful.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is a difficult and trying process. Nothing can replace the loss of a close family member or friend. However, you can always bring those cherished memories to life - the times you’ve had together – and those grand moments you spent during their lifetime.
A cremation urn cannot bring back your loved one, but it can give you the joy of knowing he/she is close by – every day. Commit to the memory of your loved one by purchasing a beautiful cremation urn. Customize it with a personalized “Urn Medallion”, indicating name, date of birth and date of passing.
Nothing is painless about death. However, the ultimate show of love is by honoring the deceased, and keeping them close to your heart every day of your life. Cling to your loved one – via a stylish cremation urn – and you’ll “reboot your shared memories” each and every day.
Submitted by Miryam Michaels / updated: 02-Jan 2015
Parts of my report have been borrowed from varied blogs, editorials and cremation urn news & product updates.
Urn Companies Mark Significant Year-Over-Year Growth
DENVER, CO.   © 2015  (news article condensed for space)
The high demand for cremation urns is no surprise as CNBC recently named cremation as the hottest trend in the funeral industry. Startup companies are changing the face of the industry by offering unique products and services.
"As a result of ongoing economic concerns, a more mobile society and religions softening their views, more people are choosing cremation, as families are searching for creative and personalized options to memorialize their loved ones.
According to the Cremation Association of North America, 42 percent of the deceased are requesting cremation, which is double the amount of 15 years ago. Today in many states, 70 percent or more are opting for cremation.
POPULAR RESOURCES TO HELP ANSWER
YOUR CREMATION QUESTIONS:
CANA   (Cremation Association of North America)
Story About Illegal Scattering
Arizona Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
Army Corps of Engineers
Scattering in Yosemite
Superintendent Compendium / Lake Mead
Zion National Park, Utah
Grand Teton National Park, Wy
Mt. View Mortuary & Cemetery
CA. Cemetery &Funeral Bureau – A Cremated Remains Disposers Booklet:
Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases
Shipping Ashes Via Post
Above resources are merely a few of dozens available - in our research we found them to be "most informative". We hope this information is helpful to you in your search for answers to specific questions regarding cremation.
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