Most families find themselves facing the decision of burial vs cremation. Whether you’re making plans for the future or find yourself in an unexpected situation, these two options are readily available for almost all circumstances.
Cremation is often more affordable and gives families more ways to remember the deceased. While burials are the more traditional choice, they’re typically more expensive.
We’re laying out the differences between both to help you choose between burial and cremation.
What is a burial?
Burial is the body's final disposition by laying the deceased’s in the ground. Burials usually involve a coffin lowered into the ground before being covered with earth. Burials usually happen following a funeral service that involves the deceased’s family and friends.
Pallbearers often carry the coffin to its burial plot in a cemetery or other outdoor area. Friends and family will leave tokens at the burial site and visit it to remember the deceased. Over time, the body will go through a natural decay process and become part of the soil.
What is cremation?
Cremation is an alternative method as the body's final disposition through burning. Cremation reduces the deceased’s body to ashes through a process that exposes it to open flames, intense heat and evaporation.
Unlike traditional burials, where the body naturally breaks down over the years, cremation takes only a few hours. Afterwards, the ashes are returned to the family to fulfil the deceased's wishes on what to do with the ashes.
Benefits of a burial
One of the benefits of burial is that it gives you the option of having a family plot. As a result, many people are buried with their close family members, and their graves become a place of remembrance. For many people, this permanent place is helpful in the grieving process.
Depending on the circumstances of the death, burials also allow family members to see the deceased one last time if they choose an open casket. Finally, if you choose a burial, you can have an environmentally friendly coffin such as cardboard or wicker.
Benefits of a cremation
There are many benefits to cremation. For most, this option is far more cost-effective than burial. Cremations also allow you to choose a special way to remember your loved one. These days you can put ashes in tattoo ink, blast them into space and more.
Another benefit of cremations is they are better for the environment. Although cremations emit more carbon emissions than traditional burials initially, their long-term impact is actually less because there's no need to create a fancy coffin or to maintain a funeral plot. In fact, cremation doesn’t require a plot of land like a burial, so there’s no disruption to the earth.
If you like the sound of having a place to visit, like a grave site, you needn't worry. Ashes can be interred at cemeteries for memorialisation. Depending on the cemetery, they can be interred in a wall niche or rose garden on site.
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of cremation is the flexibility and simplicity for those who are non-religious. Cremations are a great option for those who don’t want a full funeral service and instead want a memorial service or celebration of life.
Burial vs cremation: what’s better?
When deciding between burial vs cremation, it’s about choosing what feels right for you and your loved ones. Of course, both burial and cremation have their benefits, but ultimately, it’s about honouring the deceased in a way that reflects their values and wishes.