Considering Cremation or Immediate Disposition

The purpose of this page is to suggest to those considering immediate disposition, some thoughts that will be helpful for planning during the time of bereavement.
Cremation is one of the alternatives available in our society to dispose of the remains of a loved one following death. This type of disposition is growing in acceptance among many segments of the population in our country.
A noted authority in grief and bereavement psychology, Eric Lindemann, has said, "Death is a psychological amputation." Regardless of the chosen procedure in dealing with the remains of a loved one, the survivors experience the process of grief. Feelings of shock, denial, anger, and depression surface in life as the healing process takes place. There is no shortcut. Just as you cleanse a wound to make it ready for healing, so also what you do after death concerning the funeral and commitment of the body of the deceased one will determine your ability to cope and adjust to this reality. Some suggest the removal and immediate disposition of the remains following death easily solves the difficult problem of separation. We know that death is painful for the family, friends, and acquaintances of your loved one. Of all the difficult experiences of life we are called upon to face, the crisis of death is the most momentous. What at first seems "easiest" may not be best.

CONSIDER THE INVESTMENT OF LIFE

It is important to provide those concerned with the opportunity for positive reflection upon the life of the one who has died. That person's life has touched many others, leaving impressions that will long be remembered. A meaningful service centered around his or her life can and should be a beneficial event which provides a unique occasion for family and friends in the community to share expressions of appreciation and remembrance.

CONSIDER THE INTEREST AND NEEDS OF THOSE WHO REMAIN

Many times families feel that if the remains are disposed of immediately, the trauma will be lessened for those who survive. When there is no service, those who have known and loved the deceased are left with a void, with a sense of emptiness. If there is no service, friends may have a difficult time accepting the reality of this event. There needs to be a definite experience that will validate the reality of death and provide an occasion for friends to share memories of the one who has died. The meaningful service of remembrance provides such an experience.

CONSIDER WHAT SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE

Immediate Disposition With No Service
Though this at first may seem best, it may leave many, both family and friends, with a sense of emptiness and may make grief resolution more difficult.
Rental Casket
For families who wish a service with cremation, many firms are now making available a "rental casket." This is an alternative service which allows the benefit of the more traditional funeral with economy kept in mind. Perhaps you would wish to talk this option over with your Funeral Service Practitioner.
Cremation Followed By Memorial Service
The memorial service, as with the traditional service, is one way of placing focus on the dignity of life and the contributions your loved one has made through his or her life. The focus of this service allows those attending a time to reflect upon positive memories of the deceased.
Traditional Funeral Service Followed By Cremation
A family may choose a traditional funeral service with cremation following. This has always been an acceptable procedure which follows along more traditional lines.

CONSIDER VIEWING THE BODY

Should the body be viewed before some form of disposition? This question must ultimately be decided by the family. At times this may be a painful experience, yet there is definite, therapeutic value. Viewing the deceased after proper preparation sets the reality of death and allows the event to be psychologically settled in the minds of family and friends. Some families may desire a time of visitation prior to the service. Your Funeral Service Practitioner will be happy to share with you various options regarding visitation.
Talk with your Funeral Service Practitioner about these and other options. His or her advice and counsel will be very helpful and informative.

CONSIDER WHO CONDUCTS THE SERVICE
If you do not have a minister, priest or rabbi, your Funeral Service Practitioner will be able to suggest to you persons in the community who would be available to meet with your family and arrange for a service of memory. This service does not need to be religious in nature; however, this is a time when families often feel the need for such an emphasis. The service of memory can be most meaningful if attention is devoted to your loved one's interests and involvements, and his or her contributions to the lives of others.
A personal note to those arranging their own service.
When making arrangements in advance of need for oneself, you should keep your wishes compatible with those who will survive you. This will eliminate psychological problems which may surface if you desire a form of disposition not acceptable to your loved ones. Above all, be considerate and aware of the feelings of those who will be left behind to deal in this area of grief. Do not be forceful or insistent in any area that may be upsetting to those you leave behind. Remember, the service of remembrance is for the living.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

Cremation is an accepted method of disposition of the remains of your loved one. Immediate disposition without a meaningful service of remembrance should be seriously reconsidered by those contemplating this method of disposition. A life has been lived, and that life is worthy of our positive reflection in an environment where others who have known and loved the deceased may share mutual memories. The service should not be drab and dreary but rather positive and uplifting. We gather not because someone has died, but because someone has lived. All those who mourn need an opportunity to set the reality of death in their minds so that a healthy grief resolution might begin.

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