Why are More People Being Cremated?
Cremation, nowadays, is far more common a disposition process than burial in the West, especially among Britons. In many cases, this is due to it being cheaper and more practical. The BBC reported in 2016 that statistics released by the Cremation Society of Great Britain showed that 75% of people are cremated at present, which has given rise to cremation insurance as a way to short the cost and passing on the bill to your family.
Cremation Throughout History
Although cremation appears to have been practiced since prehistoric times, although it largely died out with the introduction of Christianity.
During the French Revolution, cremation was practiced as a form of revolt against the Church’s involvement in death rituals.
This resulted in staunch opposition to cremation on the part of the Roman Catholics.
Modern cremation began in the Victorian ages due to hygiene concerns related to burial and decomposition, and have been increasingly practiced ever since.
Religious Views on Cremation
As we have seen, Roman Catholics were historically opposed to cremation, yet this viewpoint has mostly subsided in Catholicism today. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Canon Law of the Catholic Church was relaxed, and cremation was officially allowed without penalty. Nevertheless, it is believed by some Catholics that cremation interferes with resurrection, and therefore bodies must be buried in order to rise again.
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church forbids cremation. The practice of burial is upheld by the Eastern Orthodox worldwide, in keeping with the notion of the resurrection of body and soul together.
Protestantism has historically been more tolerant of cremation and adopted the practice long before the Roman Catholics finally did.
Cremation is ‘not encouraged’ among Mormonism, but Mormons do have the freedom to choose between methods of disposition.
Cremation is prohibited in Islam. This is because it is believed by Muslims that the dead must be treated as respectfully as the living, therefore burning the deceased is the same as burning the living. Muslims only allow for cremation in an instance where a traditional burial is likely to result in the spread of disease.
Hinduism is one of the only religions which has consistently accepted cremation throughout history. This is because Hindus believe that the soul and the body are separate, and only the soul is needed for resurrection.
Cremation allows for the soul to be freed from the body. Hindus do not, however, allow for babies and children to be cremated. This is because they are believed to be purely innocent, so their bodies have no negative karma against them. Cremation in adults rids the soul of its negative karma that is generated by the body.
Since children are not considered to be responsible for their actions, they cannot generate negative karma and therefore their souls do not need to be released from their bodies upon death. The same applies to saints. Babies and children are buried instead of cremated.
While Jewish tradition mandates that all bodies must be buried, cremation is practiced by many Jews today. Like with Catholicism, the modern preference for cremation has resulted in growing tolerances for the practice. Orthodox Jews tend to reject cremation, nevertheless.
Why is Cremation Often Preferred Today?
Cremation is now considered to be the new tradition of the West. Cost is a major component of this cultural move away from burial. Cremation enables one to avoid the costly purchasing of caskets, coffins and funding the embalmment process. Further, with burial plots becoming sparser and thus more expensive, burial quite quickly becomes thousands of pounds more expensive than cremation.
Another reason for the rise in cremation rates is due to the fact that, as a populace, we are more mobile. Keeping someone’s cremated remains in an urn means that we can move the deceased around with us, whereas you cannot easily uproot a body from its burial plot.
Further, the rise of atheism and agnosticism has lead to fewer people wanting to be disposed of in a way that relates to religion, such as being buried in a churchyard. For many, cremation feels like a more ‘neutral’ or secular mode of disposition.
How Does Cremation Work?
Cremation involves breaking down a body using extreme heat; usually, the temperature used ranges between 1400 and 1800 degrees using flames.
The body, when being burned, is placed in a cremation chamber, which is preheated before the process ensues.
Next, after the body is dried and reduced to bone fragments, the remains are collected and cooled. Any non-human elements such as fillings and surgical screws are removed from the remains using magnets. The bone fragments are then ground-down into a finer consistency using a cremulator.
The remains are then transferred into a container for the family. The process takes 1-3 hours, depending on the size of the body, the amount of body fat the person has, and the temperature used in the cremation process.
If you are thinking about which method of disposition is right for you or a loved one, a funeral plan will help you to come to a decision and implement any necessary arrangements.