Although cremation is generally a simple, affordable way to memorialize your loved ones, the decision to cremate and the various choices one must make subsequent to that decision can seem overwhelming, especially since they often must be made in the heat of the most stressful possible moment. Cremation societies were founded to advocate for, provide information about, and to perform cremation services.
The first of the modern cremation societies was founded in England in 1874 for “the purpose of obtaining and disseminating information on the subject and for adopting the best method of performing the process, as soon as this could be determined, provided that the act was not contrary to Law.” The mission of the Cremation Society of England was to transform what had been seen by many as a controversial or even forbidden end-of-life choice into an option that Britons were comfortable selecting.
The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) was founded for similar reasons in 1914: “to promote the ‘modern way’ and the ‘safe and hygienic way,’” of handling human remains. It is still active today and is the largest association of its kind, promoting, supporting, and supplying materials, education and ethical guidelines for North American cremation service providers.
Clearinghouses for cremation information
Today, many states have cremation societies which function both as clearinghouses for information on cremation and as cremation service providers. In some cases these societies can also provide rental caskets and other memorial services for the family of the deceased prior to the cremation. There is also a National Cremation Society, which is purportedly the largest direct provider of cremation services in the country (as distinct from CANA, which supplies and supports cremation providers).
There are a number of societies whose mission and services transcend state lines or limits, such as the Internet Cremation Society, which functions as an online portal to various cremation and cremation-related services such as memorial urns and scattering services, and which provides a searchable database of cremation providers in the United States and Canada. The Neptune Society is another national cremation society with offices in 45 states.
Although the term “society” in the names of these organizations lends an air of civil service or volunteerism, it’s important for consumers to remember that most cremation societies are in fact for-profit businesses providing a valuable service.
The complex decisions, often contradictory information regarding costs and environmental impact, etc., and the wide variety and quality of sources regarding cremation can be overwhelming to a person already under a great deal of stress. Cremation societies can be a valuable resource – consolidating information and services on cremation in your particular state or municipality. To find a cremation society in your area, type “cremation society ‘your state’” into your favorite search engine, or use the online search tool at the Internet Cremation Society.