As its popularity of cremation continues to rise in the United States, so do the number of options for memorialization.
As of 2016, a little more than half of families were opting for cremation with that number expected to rise to roughly 56 percent by 2020, according to the Cremation Association of North America. For comparison, that rate was about 5 percent in 1972, almost a century after the process was legalized in the U.S.
There have been many questions and some stigmas associated with the process over the years. However, cremation has certainly shed many of those and become not only acceptable, but preferred.
Like the choices of in-ground burial or above-ground interment in a mausoleum, cremation comes with its own set of options that often overlap with those two. The urn on the mantle or scattering of ashes might come to mind when thinking of cremains. But, modern options include glass niches or burial.
Then there’s the emerging concept of direct cremation, which is becoming more common because of costs. Direct cremation gives families the option to forgo preservation of the deceased, viewing, calling hours or memorial services, should they so choose.
Once considered an eco-friendly way to handle human remains, the energy required to reach the 1,600 to 2,000 degrees necessary has eroded that view a bit.
It is, however, an efficient method that saves space in the limited confines of cemeteries. In the case of direct cremation, the absence of chemicals used to preserve the deceased remains a positive consideration for the environmentally conscious.
Direct cremation can save money, which is a primary reason many consider it. The concept plays into religious or ethnic traditions as well.
Some religions or cultures lean toward or even require cremation as a dignified method. It’s also an ideal method for transporting remains overseas for scattering, burial or other memorialization. Direct cremation is often the option that makes the most sense in these cases.
As the name implies, the body essentially goes directly to the crematory. Survivors do as they wish with the cremains, sometimes nothing.
Places like the Cremation Center at Woodlawn Cemetery in Syracuse, New York, provide many possibilities for families who choose direct cremation.
“We have two principles,” Woodlawn Cemetery Superintendent Steven Sloane says. “One is everyone should have a place to be remembered. Our second principle is planning in advance of need.
With so many options for remembrance, pre-planning at any age has become increasingly important as it saves hasty decision-making for survivors and allows families to handle costs in advance, he says.
“With our Cremation Center, not only can we serve families, we can give them more options,” Sloane says.
The Cremation Center not only offers on-site cremation services, but a place for memorialization as well. Survivors can choose to host calling hours or memorial services right on site. Woodlawn also included space for cremains in the form of columbariums featuring niches, so families can even opt to be interred there.
That’s in addition to the burial and remembrance spaces available throughout the property. Whether cremation, including direct cremation, is an option for you can be decided well in advance.
Simply send your name and address to Woodlawn for a free Pre-Planning Guide to learn more.