Sep 21, 2019

Understanding Cremation

There was a death in my family recently. I’d rather not get into too many details, but this person was quite close to me, and it’s been kind of difficult.


One thing that I’m really struggling with is that this person chose to be cremated. I know, of course, that it was their choice and they had a right to make it. But as I think about it, I get upset about the idea that I won’t have a grave to visit. Services are coming up, and I’m very upset that the service will be the last time I have a specific time and a place to mourn this person. What makes things even harder to understand is that this person was religious. Don’t religious people get buried?


I feel selfish and stupid for this, but I’m struggling with it a lot. I haven’t said anything to my family, and all of this has just recently happened. What should I do?


First of all, we are so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a loved one is never easy, and it can trigger all sorts of emotions. Some of those will feel reasonable, and others less so. You should allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions that are brought on by this loss, and you should try not to judge yourself so harshly. It’s not selfish to dwell on the ways in which you might continue to mourn and honor your loved one in the future; indeed, it’s just the opposite! It’s okay to be upset about this and other related issues at this time. Let yourself feel this way, and if you feel overwhelmed, consider speaking to a therapist or another professional about your struggles.


The issue you’re dealing with is a tough one. So, no doubt, was the decision your loved one made about their end-of-life plans. Cremation is a beautiful choice, and there are a lot of ways to continue to honor the life of someone who chooses that route.


It’s also important to note, say funeral directors we spoke to who offer cremation services in Texas or Nevada, that cremation is just one decision of many when it comes to end-of-life preparations. For instance, being cremated and having a grave are not mutually exclusive. While it’s true that some traditional Christian beliefs hold burial in a casket to be preferred to cremation, it’s also true that some religions prefer cremation, and some–such as Catholicism–combine cremation with traditional funeral services and a burial. You say you haven’t spoken to your family about your concerns, but perhaps you should. You mention cremation, but not further decisions–is it possible that your fears are unfounded?


If your loved one did indeed chose to forgo a grave–perhaps in favor of having their ashes scattered–it’s okay to be upset about that. But there are still ways to honor loved ones without physical grave sites. If your loved one’s ashes are to be scattered in a place you can reach, you could go there to mourn. Or you could read some of the many helpful personal accounts and helpful tips by and for those grieving without a grave and/or funeral. suggested for mourners in your situation. Ultimately, we believe you will find that you can honor your loved one wherever you are, even without a physical site to visit. In the meantime, it’s okay to be upset! You have a difficult time to get through, and our thoughts are with you. We’re sure that you can come through it while honoring your loved one’s beautiful life.


“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller

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