My wife and I visited a cemetery this week. It is winter here. You might think this is weird, like the horse in the Robert Frost poem “My little horse might think it queer, to stop without a farmhouse near.”
We are not sick. We are not that old. We are doing some thinking and planning. We talk about our wishes as we are preparing to die. Then we let it go and have fun living the rest of the day.
We have agreed that we both want to be cremated. The cost of cremation is one of the advantages. The cost of a funeral using cremation is about half of what a traditional funeral can be. That might be why so many more people are using it now. It is about 35-40% across the nation and is expected to rise to about 60% in the next 15 years.
We have not decided on the type of cremation. There is a brand new method that is becoming rapidly available to the public called bio cremation or alkaline hydrolysis. Instead of fire and combustion, it uses water, heat, pressure, and a basic solution to reduce the body to bones and ultimately to ashes that are returned to the family in the same fashion as a traditional cremation. It is supposed to be more environmentally friendly and could eventually be less expensive. It uses less energy and emits less pollution into the air.
As we walked through the cemetery, it dawned on us that another big advantage to being cremated is portability. We are not settled and neither is our family. We do not know where we are going to end up living in our final years. We do not know where our children are going to be living. Isn’t that a lot different than the way that it used to be when families lived in the same community for years and ended up with a family plot in the cemetery.
If we die and we are cremated, the family can have an urn of ashes to remember us. We can even divide the ashes so that all of the children, in different parts of the country can all have an urn. They can then keep it or eventually establish their own memorial to us. It could be that they bury the ashes in the garden or plant a tree in the local park and that would be the place that they visit. That might work.