The death of a family member, close friend or some known person is one of the most difficult pain and trauma that most of us fear to face in our life. As death is a harsh reality of our society, it is important to be prepared for it. It will be great help to have some knowledge about the cremation and funeral laws of the state where you reside. Each US states have its own cremation laws regarding the funeral and cemetery arrangements.
Often people have strong feelings about the way they want their dead body to be treated or laid down to rest. Some people prefer cremation and some prefer burial. The reasons behind these preferences are varied, but often very private. Well, how you want to be laid to rest is a personal decision, but looking at the benefit of the society as a whole cremation is a better choice.
What is cremation?
The word ‘cremation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘crematus’, which in a simple way means ‘to burn up’. Cremation takes place at a crematorium. Here the body of the deceased is put in a casket or some other container made of wood or cardboard. In some U.S states, container is not even required. Now the dead body is put in the cremation chamber where it is exposed to extreme heat. The temperature is set to around 1,600 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours depending upon the size of the body. During this time, the body is reduced to bone fragments and ashes which are known as ‘cremated remains’. Further the ‘cremated remains’ are processed mechanically until it is reduced in size and looks like coarse sand in light gray color. Lastly the final product is put in a temporary container that can be easily transported by the family members or friends of the deceased. Many people prefer to keep the ashes stored in a cremation urn or keepsake urn at home. Some even bury the cremation urn at some cremation garden, at their own garden or some holy place. Another alternative that people choose is to scatter the remaining of the deceased on land, sea, or air.
History of cremation
The whole process of cremation is not something new for the society. Archaeologists believe that cremation process dates back to the Stone Age about 3000 B.C. In ancient Greek and Rome, cremation was very popular and was introduced in the Western countries during 1000 B.C. In modern society, the first cremation chamber was presented by Professor Burnetti in 1873 at the Vienna Exposition. The first cremation chamber in North America was built in 1876 in Washington, Pennsylvania by Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne. By 1900, there were 20 crematories in the United States and since then cremation process is getting popular slowly but at a steady rate.
Some Important US Cremation Facts
In 2010, the cremation rate was 40.62% in the whole of the US as compared to 38.15% in 2009. The top 10 U.S. states by percentage of deaths cremated in 2010 are Nevada (73.46%), Washington (70.96%), Oregon (69.40%), Hawaii (68.96%), Montana (65.66%), Maine (63.40%), Colorado (63.27%), Arizona (62.10%), New Hampshire (61.54%) and Alaska (61.13%). The bottom 10 U.S. states by percentage of deaths cremated in 2010 are Mississippi (13.84%),Alabama (17.18%), Kentucky (19.24%), Louisiana (21.18%), West Virginia (23.17), Indiana (25.68%), Tennessee (27.50%), Arkansas (27.72%), Utah (28.41%), and South Dakota (28.71%). According to the Cremation Association of North America, estimation is being made that the cremation rate in the US by 2015 will be 46.57%.
In the General Price List Survey done by the National Funeral Directors Association, it was found that the national cost for a cremation was around $300 to $3,000 in 2001. However, there can be variation in the total cost depending upon the additional services that the family of the deceased wants. It is important to note that the average cost of a funeral was $6,130 in 2001.
In the U.S, many people now prefer cremation as compared to burial due to various reasons such as to save money, to save time, to save land, for the betterment of environment, simplicity and convenience. Also in cremation there is no need of a casket. In fact, according to a survey done by the Cremation Association of North America in 2002 it was found that in about 90 percent of cremations there was no casket.
To conclude, cremation which was once unpopular is now an easy and also an inexpensive way to dispose a dead body. But before going for cremation you must be aware of the laws and regulations regarding cremation in your state.