Traditional Burial Vs Cremation - Advantages & Disadvantages

By: Shama Rhoden
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Whether to have a traditional burial or a cremation is a very personal and at times complicated decision to make. The choice you are faced with may involve balancing the desires of family members, and those of the deceased, with your personal beliefs or financial constraints. Understanding some of the reasons people select either traditional burial or cremation can help you make the right choice.

Advantages of Traditional Burial

  • One of the main reasons people choose a traditional burial is to honor religious beliefs. This choice may align with the beliefs of the deceased. It also may bring family and friends, or a religious community who share these beliefs closer together.
  • Family tradition is an important reason to choose burial. A family may be better able to come together and deal with the grief through the ritual involved in the process of burial.
  • The process involved in traditional burial, whether an open or closed casket funeral service is held, can provide closure that may not occur otherwise. The burial may allow for a visitation and to see the deceased placed in the ground. This process can feel natural and comforting to some.
  • A family plot or an individual site provides a permanent memorial place for family and friends to return to in order to honor the memory of the deceased.

Disadvantages of Traditional Burial

  • A traditional burial is often the more expensive choice. Depending on how the burial is customized, it may include expenses such as, embalming, dressing and preparing the deceased for viewing, a casket, a hearse, visitation, funeral ceremonies, and more.
  • Some people find that a traditional burial is a more time consuming process than cremation. Viewings and a funeral service can require multiple trips which may be difficult for people from out of town to arrange.

Advantages of Cremation

  • With fewer associated costs, a cremation is usually the more economical choice.
  • Many people choose cremation for ecological reasons. Burials take up space and may place toxic substances into the earth.
  • Depending on the geographical location of the deceased in relation to their family and friends, a cremation can make it easy to move the remains and hold a memorial in a location other than where the death occurred.
  • The portability as well as the ability to divide the remains from cremation can allow for flexibility when it comes to planning a memorial. Some people choose to spread the remains in multiple sites or to keep some of the remains, and display them in an urn.

Disadvantages of Cremation

  • Cremation can be less socially acceptable and may not align with religious beliefs, family ideals or traditions. It is important to be sensitive to the desires of the living and the deceased in this regard.
  • Cremation may contribute to a lack of closure. With cremation a formal funeral is not always held, and there may not be a permanent memorial spot, such as a headstone. These factors may make it difficult to mourn the loss or to feel connected to the deceased.

With the advantages and disadvantages in mind, you may still wish to speak with trusted friends, family, a funeral director, clergy person or a bereavement counselor to assist you in making choices that will put you and your family at ease.

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