An overview of final arrangement options
Here is a summary of final arrangement options and the advantages to each:
Considered the most traditional choice. Some advantages of burial:
- Commonality among beliefs: If there are varying religions in the inner circle, a burial is usually an acceptable option for a wide range of religions or beliefs.
- Family tradition: Many families choose to purchase family cemetery plots. This tradition can give comfort knowing loved ones are at peace near each other. Such plots can also be purchased in advance.
- A permanent place to visit: A cemetery offers a permanent place to grieve and visit the loved one whenever they choose. The headstone can pay tribute the life of the deceased.
- Inclusion of special items in the coffin or casket: A traditional ground burial offers a chance to select clothes and include tributes such as photographs, jewelry, notes and heirlooms.
- The body can be exhumed: A burial allows for the rare occurrence that a body needs to be exhumed.
Cremation is now the most popular option for final disposition, surpassing burials in 2015, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Some advantages of cremation:
- Planning is relatively simple: There are not as many arrangements or logistics to discuss and make.
- Cremations are a growing trend: According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), about 55% of people who died in 2019 were cremated. They project that number to increase to nearly 80% by 2040.
- Cost is lower than traditional burial: The 2019 median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial was $7,640; the median cost for cremation was $5,150, according to the NFDA.
A green burial highlights environmental sustainability and simplicity. The body is not cremated or prepared for burial with embalming chemicals. The body is placed in blanket, shroud or biodegradable container and is placed in soil or the ground. The advantages of a green burial:
- Can be economical: Green burials can save costs such as eliminating a casket, flowers, plot and a memorial site.
- Supports a commitment to environmental sustainability.
- Respects a deceased's religious, cultural or personal wishes for simplicity.
Sometimes called "water cremation," this process involves placing the body in a pressure vessel filled a chemical solution. Rather than being traditionally cremated, the body is reduced to chemical components. (Because of differing regulations, it's not available in some states.) The advantages of alkaline hydrolysis:
- Environmental sustainability: The process does not consume fuel or create emissions.
- Nontoxic remains: The remains of the process yield a liquid which can be placed at sites including a garden or home.
Donating the body to science
Whole-body donation assists in medical research. Medical students and scientists use donated bodies to study diseases, and in turn develop new treatments. The advantages of donating the body to science:
- Helps researches cure disease: According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, bodies that have been donated to science have led to research breakthroughs treating Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
- Continue to give back: An altruistic life can end continuing to serve the community.