The decision to be or not be cremated may come from a lifetime of deep-seated beliefs (i.e., cultural, superstitious, or religious). Many people base their decision on these factors.
However, there may be overriding issues that will dominate the deceased’s last wishes such as finances and convenience of surviving family members. For example, if families live apart, they may agree to wait until a later date to memorialize their loved one. In this instance cremation is a much more practical option than having the remains stored in a funeral home until a later date. In other words, if the deceased did not make their desires clear and pay for them prior to their death, then they could be leaving their final destiny in the hands of their survivors.
Interestingly, cremation has been around since about 3000 B.C. in various parts of Europe and the United Kingdom although it was considered a pagan practice by Christians of those times as well as by the Jewish people. One reason for its popularity was that it was used as a means of stopping infectious diseases from spreading. Earth burials became popular by 400 A.D. only because of Christian ruler Constantine’s influence and authority; it would remain popular for 1,500 years.
Yet, by the Nineteenth century, cremation had once again become popular due to a Professor Brunetti’s invention of a dependable cremation chamber. One side note regarding cremation is that it has become popular with pet lovers who wish to memorialize their beloved pet by having its remains placed in an urn and displayed on a mantle in their home. Yet, sadly, if there is a rush to have a body cremated, valuable forensic evidence could be destroyed that could prove significant and critical in the case of a mysterious or suspicious death. Valuable organs are destroyed that could have meant the difference between life and death for a critically-ill person waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Cremation has remained popular well into the Twenty-first century. In fact, nearly fifty percent of all deceased are cremated. Another interesting reason for cremation is societies’ emerging ecological sensitivity. For example, many people do not want their remains to take up spaces of land that could have a more significant and important purpose.
The Bible has much to say about cremation, or the burning of individuals (i.e., alive or dead). For example, there are several Old Testament references to the burning of people (i.e., false idols, criminals, or enemies) and objects. Many times it was women and their supposed transgressions (i.e., adultery, prostitution, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time) that led to their unfortunate and unfair punishment and death. Those who were in disagreement regarding religious beliefs might also be burned to death. There are, however, fewer references to burning in the New Testament.
Throughout the Bible (i.e., Old and New Testaments) the burials of so-called important or integral Biblical figures were carefully planned and detailed. There are also references to fallen heroes who did not receive a proper burial; this was considered a great tragedy and dishonor. Therefore, there was no honor to being burned during Biblical times.
The decision to be or not be cremated is an individual one that must not be taken lightly. After all, whatever decision you make is what you and your loved ones will have to live with for eternity. The important aspect is to consider the options, make a well-informed decision, and then put your plans in motion before it is too late.