For the one we missThis page, as well as the page on burial, may be especially difficult for you to read.  Yet deciding between burial and cremation is one of the first choices you must make.

Disposition is the term used by the funeral industry to describe the final handling of the deceased’s remains. Although your initial decision for disposition of the body is burial or cremation, there are several variations for each.

No casket is legally required for cremation, simply a container that would be strong enough to encase and hold the body for dignity and weight distribution in placement in to the cremation chamber. This could be a wooden box, pressed board, heavy cardboard, or even a wood casket. Most crematories require the container or casket to be combustible.

Cremation Choices:

  • The remains can be kept by the family
  • You may take the remains and distribute (“scatter”) them over land or water
  • The remains can be placed in a niche within a columbarium
  • The remains can be buried in the ground in a regular plot or in a smaller cremation plot
  • The remains can be entombed in a crypt within a mausoleum


Why people choose cremation:

  • Cremation is traditional in your family, religious group, or geographical area
  • You prefer the body to be returned quickly and cleanly to the elements
  • Many people believe that a cremated body becomes one with nature more quickly
  • You have environmental concerns
  • Perhaps you are worried about the use of valuable land for cemetery space, or believe it is wrong to fill the ground with materials that won’t erode … metal coffins and concrete vaults
  • You want to keep the costs down


Selecting cremation does not mean, however, that you will have an inexpensive funeral.

You might still choose an expensive casket and/or a viewing, and/or decide to have the cremated remains buried in the ground or placed in a columbarium. These choices can bring your costs up to those of a traditional funeral.


Decisions You Must Make If You Choose Cremation

  • Who to call (a funeral home or a firm that specializes in direct cremation)
  • Whether to use an urn or container
  • What to do with the remains
  • If you are distributing the remains:
  • Some jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the scattering of remains; others require a permit. Ask your funeral director

Also ask if there are any firms in your area that specialize in unique ways of distributing the remains, such as a plane to spread them over a mountain, or a ship to scatter them at sea.

Think of places that were especially loved by the deceased, close to home or far away. You can walk in the woods, by a favorite lake, or on the old family farm.

Be sure to ask permission if you want to use private property.

What about using the remains to create new life, by planting a tree? Some survivors choose to mix the remains with the soil in flowerbeds and rose gardens at home. Every time the roses bloom, you will be reminded of your loved one.

If you decide to do this, however, consider what will happen if, some day, you move away.