If your loved one has just passed away, you probably feel alone, scared, and overwhelmed. Suddenly, while you would prefer to stay at home and do nothing, your days are instead filled with phone calls, visits, meetings and decisions. You probably aren’t sure what you need to do, and you feel a tremendous amount of pressure because you only have a few days to figure it out.
You are not alone. If you are fortunate, you will find your loved one made most of the arrangements ahead of time. They knew what they wanted and left explicit instructions, thus removing much of the pressure you now feel weighing on your shoulders. Unfortunately, as you may have discovered, most people put off thinking about death, and the decisions fall to those left behind. The choices can seem vast and terrifying.
In today’s economy, when choosing what to do with a loved one’s remains, the primary consideration for many is cost. A traditional burial can be extremely expensive, especially if your loved one was one of the 74% of Americans who didn’t prepay, either in full or partially, or purchase insurance; a simple service can easily cost more than $7,000.
Cremation, on the other hand, costs significantly less. In some areas, it can be done for under $500, and in most parts of the country, one can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on ad-dons.
However, even if the expense if of no concern, there are plenty of other reasons to consider this excellent lower-cost alternative. Here are a few other things to think about:
Your memorial options are almost limitless. Far from the traditional urn displayed on the mantle, today there are hundreds of artistic, beautiful and tasteful choices. For example, you could choose to make diamonds, art glass, or decorative tiles. You could purchase a pendant with a compartment, design a unique Christmas ornament, or even make ink and get a tattoo. Then, of course, there are always the traditional choices, including scattering remains on land or at sea, purchasing a plot in a cemetery, or purchasing space in a mausoleum.
Perhaps the best thing is that you don’t need to make any choices immediately; instead, save the decision for a time when you are more relaxed and confident.
You will cause less harm to the environment. Embalming uses toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and phenol, which can evaporate or go down the drain and cause damage to the environment. These chemicals also travel through soil, ultimately contaminating our sources of drinking water with known carcinogens. Every year, too, traditional methods use tens of millions of feet of wood, including rare tropical hardwoods.
Consider going with more environmentally friendly options, which don’t use toxic chemicals, don’t contaminate soil and groundwater, and don’t destroy forests.
You can delay the memorial service. Unfortunately, death is rarely convenient. Traditionally, friends and family members had to drop everything to fly last-minute across the country, or even the world, to pay their respects to a loved one. Sometimes, it is impossible to wait for everyone, and the services must proceed. While there are ways to delay the process, they are typically expensive and inconvenient.
Why not choose an option which allows you to schedule the wake and funeral, or whatever type of memorial you decide to have, at a time when everyone can be there? Give relatives and friends a chance to look for cheaper flights and affordable accommodations, and give yourself some time to breathe.