Some people might consider it morbid to be talking or thinking about how you wish your body to be handled after you pass on. This is, however, part of planning your future. At the very least, you should be able to tell your loved ones what type of funeral or burial you want to have.
If you are considering cremation over the traditional way of burying the dead, here are some interesting bits of information that might want to mull over:
1. The word cremation comes from the word “cremo,” the Latin word for “to burn.” Simply put, the process involves the burning of the body of a person who has died.
In this 3 to 5-hour process, the body is exposed to high temperatures between 1400 and 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered to be an acceptable alternative to the interment of a dead body in a coffin or casket.
2. The practice is as old as time. Archaeologists believe that burning the dead was first practiced about 3000 B.C. during the Stone Age in Europe or Near East. Greece and Rome in 600 to 800 B.C. adhered to this custom as means of disposing decomposing bodies. Other cultures though used other means.
The Chinese, for example, chose to bury their dead while the Egyptians, believing in afterlife, embalmed their deceased loved ones to preserve them.
The Israelites buried the bodies of dead people in sepulchers or tombs and vaults. The dead body decomposes naturally at its exposure to the air of the tomb. After some time, when worms have eaten the body away except for the bones, the bones are transferred to a box. In ancient Israel, the burning of bodies was reserved for idols, criminals or enemies.
Like the Israelites, Christians shunned cremation primarily because of its association with pagan civilizations of Greece and Rome. Early Christians interred their dead in graves or in underground vaults known as catacombs.
3. While the practice used to be banned by the Catholic Church, it is now widely accepted. When Christianity became the official religion in Rome, interment became the only accepted means of disposing the dead in the European continent. The practice of burning dead bodies ceased and burying was considered as the only acceptable way of handling dead bodies. Such practice was even outlawed in some places.
Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768–814) and Holy Roman Emperor (800–14), made the practice a capital offense unless it was done for the purpose of preventing specific diseases from spreading.
The Catholic Church’s staunch belief in the afterlife and resurrection of the body was its main motivation to condemn the custom in 1886. Its basis on was Genesis 3:19 that states that each person is created in the likeness and image of God. References to the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb were also used to support this belief. This prohibition was included in the Canon Law, with a provision for the denial of ecclesiastical burial for cremated bodies.
Today, Catholics are allowed to be cremated for as long as they adhere to certain standards. The cremated remains or the ashes should also still be treated with the same respect and “buried” in a proper resting place.
4. It was an Italian who developed the modern cremation chamber. In 1886, an Italian called Professor Brunetti created the modern crematory chamber. This development, among others, made the practice of cremating a body a popular practice in Europe and North America to present time. The purpose of cremating mortal remains was mainly for hygiene and land conservation.
5. Opting crematory services saves money. In a survey done in 2006, the top reason why people choose cremation over burial is monetary. The cost of basic crematory services is considerably lower than traditional burial services. Of course, there are other services that the family of the departed person could choose to add to the basic package. Some families still opt to have the traditional viewing and honoring of the dead even if after the body has been cremated.
Whatever your choice is for the disposition of your mortal remains must be communicated to your family. Find out if they agree and are comfortable with this modern method to avoid any misunderstanding or their non-compliance to your wishes.