Most people don’t want to think about death or what happens after they’re gone. The topic can often be very emotional, especially if you have experienced a recent loss. However, for those who would like to be cremated, a little preplanning will help you make vital arrangements well in advance. Most importantly, though, it prevents your loved ones from having to make the decisions or deal with the financial consequences associated with unplanned funeral arrangements.
Unfortunately, many myths surround cremation preplanning, from superstitions to misconceptions about the process. Here are several common statements you may encounter when researching cremation.
Talking About Death Is Bad Luck
Many cultures view death as a taboo or unpleasant subject. You simply aren’t supposed to talk about the end of life which makes starting the conversation difficult. For example, in Japanese culture, the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds like their word for death. They look at it in the same way the western world views the number 13 — with fear, anxiety, and suspicion. Ingrained cultural beliefs that paint any mention of death in a fearful light can make it difficult to confront the subject head-on. In fact, the Conversation Project found that 56 percent of people fail to discuss what they want when they die. They may be avoiding the issue due to an assumption that making prior arrangements means they have given up hope on someone recovering from an illness or disease. When this happens, families are often left doing the best they can to figure out the deceased’s wishes while handling their own grief.
Preplanning Funerals Cause You to Die Sooner
The Law of Attraction revolves around the philosophy that “like attracts like,” and can apply to everything from finances to love. However, this train of thought and others like may lead to the myth that preplanning your funeral or cremation arrangements will cause you to die sooner since you’re attracting death with your thoughts. Traditional Chinese culture avoids discussing the topic due to a similar line of reasoning, as they believe discussing death creates a self-fulfilling philosophy. Cremation preplanning helps alleviate stress on yourself and your loved ones. When you proactively address your final wishes, you give your future self more time to spend with loved ones rather than rushing around trying to make arrangements. Organizations such as the Neptune Society can provide help with figuring out how cremation fits into your preferred end-of-life plan.
Bodies Turn Into Ashes in the Cremation Chamber
Many people know about the embalming process associated with a burial, but they don’t know much about what happens with cremation. Cremation is a multi-part process that starts by preparing the body for the cremation chamber. Medical devices, such as pacemakers, get removed from the body. The remains go in a wood casket and enter the chamber, which may reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The body burns for several hours until it’s reduced to bone fragments. These bone fragments aren’t quite ashes yet, so they get moved into a cremulator to grind down completely. The ashes go into the urn or container picked out during the cremation preplanning arrangements, and then go to your loved ones.
Your Ashes Mix With Other Remains
Don’t be concerned about your ashes getting mixed in with other people. The cremation chamber isn’t big enough to burn multiple bodies at the same time, so you face zero risk of your family getting remains from various people. Your remains will be safe with your family and friends or taken to a ground burial site.
The Cremation Process Replaces a Traditional Funeral
You may encounter a common misconception that you can’t have a traditional funeral if you’re cremated. Although some logistical details do change slightly, the overall arrangements remain the same. For instance, you use a cremation casket for the viewing if you arrange the service before your cremation. While some families prefer to keep the ashes at home or scatter them in important locations, you also have the option of making a cemetery your final resting place. Think of cremation as a single aspect of your end-of-life arrangements rather than viewing it as the entirety of the service.
All Religions Are Against Cremation
Religious beliefs vary across the world. Some embrace cremation, others adopted it later in their history and a few banned it altogether. Buddhism, Asatru, and Unitarian Universalism promote cremation as a welcome way of handling your remains. Orthodox Jews and Islam have strong negative views about the practice. Some religions, such as Catholicism, initially banned cremation. However, their points of view changed over time as cemeteries filled up and additional space was limited. The Catholic Church lifted the cremation ban in 1963 to adapt to modern times with enthusiastic adoption by church members.
The question of what happens after you die is a difficult topic to tackle. Cultural and religious influences further complicate the discussions about death, but cremation preplanning brings you many benefits. Now that you know the truth behind these myths and misconceptions, you can make the end-of-life decision that accords most with your wishes.