Dispelling Common Cremation Myths

Photo by Stefan Baudy

Photo by Stefan Baudy

More and more people are choosing cremation, and for many reasons, including saving money, enjoying more options, and more acceptance of cremation by many religions. Still, the cremation process is mysterious to many people. To help you understand your options better, let’s dispel some common myths:

Myth 1: Cremation involves fire.

The modern cremation process is quick, clean, and does not involve fire. The body is exposed to extreme heat in a specially-designed furnace, which reduces it to gases and bone fragments. The fragments are then placed in an electric processor, which converts them to the ashes that are returned to the family.

Myth 2: Cremation is different for pets and people.

The process of cremating a pet’s remains is actually almost identical to the process used for human remains. You may be able to arrange cremation services through your veterinarian, or you can work directly with a crematorium that specializes in pets’ remains.

Myth 3: Cremation is eco-friendly.

Unfortunately, no. While cremated remains do take up less space than a full-body burial, and can be disposed of in ways that commune with nature, such as sprinkling in nature and burial in biodegradable urns, the actual process of cremation is not eco-friendly. The modern cremation process requires large amounts of fossil fuels, and cremation has always produced carbon emissions and dangerous fumes. Crematoria are required to install emission-reducing air filtrations systems, but the carbon output is still significant. An eco-friendly alternative is gaining acceptance: bio-cremation, in which the remains are dissolved by an emission-free chemical and liquid process.

Myth 4: Cremation is not sanctioned by my religion.

This, of course, depends entirely on what religion you practice, but cremation is gaining acceptance in many faiths that once required whole-body burial. For example, the Roman Catholic Church recently clarified its stance, stating that cremation is an option, although burial is preferred. If you’re in doubt, ask your local clergy about your religion’s and denomination’s current stance on cremation.

Myth 5: Cremation is a strange and exotic way to lay someone to rest.

Cremation is becoming increasingly popular, and is now quite common in the United States and other industrialized countries. Once the remains have been cremated, the options for what to do with the ashes are almost endless, from the traditional—such as burial, scattering, or keeping in an urn in your home or a columbarium—to the highly creative.

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