No matter what our beliefs, the fact is when humans die the body remains. In most cases, relatives and/or friends see to it the body is handled in the way the deceased had specified. There are a wide range of choices available today. Which option would you choose?
Embalming – A chemical process that delays decomposition of a deceased body and helps preserve the body for a period of time. In most cases, embalming is a choice, although in some states, the law requires embalming (check with your local and state laws). Often times, embalming is recommended in order to provide families the necessary time for burial and funeral preparation, including travel time for out of town family and friends. Embalming is also recommended, and in some cases required, for the body to travel long distance, such as to another state or another country, to its final resting place.
Traditional burial – A form of disposition where a body, either embalmed or not, is placed in a burial container such as a casket or coffin and then buried in the ground or placed in a mausoleum.
Green burial – Involves the deceased being placed (with no embalming) in a biodegradable casket or a shroud (cloth body wrapping), and then buried in a green cemetery or cemeteries with green sections, where the body naturally decays and returns to nature over time.
Cremation – Traditional, flame-based cremation requires heating the body to over 1600 degrees Fahrenheit and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the heating process. A recent, more eco-friendly alternative is resomation, or bio-cremation, which uses water and only requires heating to 350 F. Cremation allows for ashes to be kept in an urn by a relative(s) or friend(s) or dispersed as mentioned below.
Options for cremated remains – After cremation, ashes are placed in an urn. Then, loved ones might opt to keep those cremated remains in their personal possession in the urn, bury the urn in the ground or have the urn placed in a niche in a columbarium or mausoleum. Portions of ashes can also be parceled out to friends and family members in a keepsake urn or jewelry, scattered in a special place, turned into diamonds or coral reefs, become fireworks, swirled into a glass keepsake and/or get flown into outer space. There are many options, not just one. For more information on cremation, visit www.cremationassociation.org.