Thursday, October 20, 2011


I am impressed with the difference between a cremation and a burial.  My mother was cremated, our daughter was cremated and my mother-in-law is being cremated.  It is considerably less expensive than burial and it seems to me that the pain of a loss of someone to death is not lessened by a large bill.  One down side is that there is not a grave nor a grave stone so there is not a location where one can feel the loved one is or is especially present or remembered.  However, a burial urn can be placed in a site in a graveyard or mausoleum if desired.

We still have a good portion of my mother's 2005 ashes (sometimes referred to as "cremains") and of my daughter's.  So, the urns are a sort of location and reminder.  All coffins eventually deteriorate and the expense of slowing that deterioration down does not seem worthwhile to me.

Depending on one's ideas, seeing the body lying in an open casket and seeing that casket lowered into the earth may be helpful in making the change in the deceased's status very clear and meaningful.  Our experience has been that seeing the urn and understanding its finality does a good job of fixing the new absence in our minds.  We have found that a service of some kind, where people who loved the deceased person get together and remember that life and its meaning, has been valuable.  We sometimes hear that much of the ceremony we perform in connection with a death is for the benefit of the living.  A memorial service accomplishes that, too.
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