Four Myths About Cremation

Although cremation is becoming more and more popular with modern Americans, it's also true that many people tend to have misconceptions about it. This doesn't mean they're stupid; it may simply mean they've been fortunate enough to escape coming in close contact with death before. However, if you're in a position to do research on whether the cremation process is right for your situation, whether you're making provisions for your own passing or arranging what to do with a recently deceased family member, you should educate yourself about these misconceptions. Here are four widespread myths about cremation.

1. It results in ashes

Human remains don't turn to ashes during the cremation process. This myth probably originated from a mental connection between modern-day cremation and historical cremation on funeral pyres such as those used by ancient Norse tribes and others throughout history, in which human remains were burned outdoors bonfire-style. This does not represent the modern day cremation process accurately at all. In fact, during the cremation process, the bones generally don't burn, so they're afterward mechanically reduced to powder. This powder is what makes up most of the "ashes" that the family receives after the cremation. These "ashes," because they are not technically ashes, are known instead as "cremains" within the industry.

2. It involves burning the remains with fire

As mentioned already, the modern cremation process is not similar to what happens on a funeral pyre. Instead of lighting the remains of the deceased on fire, crematorium professionals simply place it into an extremely hot oven until it disintegrates.Typically, most of the flesh will disintegrate, while the bones will be less prone to disintegration (which is why they are pulverized later).

3. It's the eco-friendly option

Cremation may be more eco-friendly than a "traditional" burial complete with embalming and a concrete vault. However, today's crematoriums still run on fossil fuels, which are non-sustainable, and are also responsible for a lot of Co2 emissions. When they begin to use green energy to fuel cremations, crematoriums will be able to compete as one of the best arrangements for environmentally responsible people. Until then, however, alkaline hydrolysis is a more earth-friendly option because it doesn't create as many emissions or use as much energy. Even "green burials," which may be hard to source in your area and aren't very well-regulated to date, may be a better option.

4. It always comes with an urn

Unlike traditional burial, which provides limited options within the parameters of a casket, burial plot, and headstone, cremation opens a world of possibilities. Scattering the cremains is one option; installing them in an urn above a fireplace is another; interring them in a traditional burial plot is yet a third. Or the family can come up with some other idea, such as interring the cremains in a memorial reef or placing some of them inside a commemorative item such as a vinyl record or a portrait of the deceased.

As you can see, these misconceptions could hardly be more wrong. Cremation isn't well-understood by the public, but it's still growing in popularity as the years pass.