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Why do people cremate?

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Old 03-08-2007, 02:15 PM   #1
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Default Why do people cremate?

*** I thought I should put a little disclaimer that this post may be offensive to some...but I have some real questions and things to get off my chest. ***

Just wondering...this may be a touchy subject for some, and if it is, please don't read this. I'm having a rough time in the last week or so because I found out the my daughter's estranged father passed away at 46 years old. Although he was a great aggrevation to me in the last 13 years or so (since my daughter was born and during my pregnancy) and I haven't seen hide nor hair of him in over 7 years, I'm having such a hard time with the fact they cremated his remains. I don't know why it bugs me so much...probably that I was intimate with him and we were once VERY close, not only as boyfriend/girlfriend, but as close friends, as well. I mean, we didn't hit it off as a couple, for reasons I don't feel like getting into here, but we went through lamase classes and childbirth together and I can't tell you how long he practically stalked me when I was 19 years old until I finally conceded and went out with him and had a blast with him. It was all SO long ago, but I'm having such awful images in my mind of him in a furnace and being burned to ashes...envisioning the father of my child lying on a slab, looking much the same way he used to look while sleeping and keeping me up all night with his incessant SNORING (!!), but that same profile (I loved his nose...very Italian) being engulfed in flames and turned to dust. Its just bringing up such emotions, I can't even tell you. And I haven't even seen him in seven years!

So, my point is...why do people cremate their loved ones' remains? I'm not trying to be gruesome or macabre...I just really want to know...is there a spiritual relevance? Is it to save money and/or space? Is it that maybe someone was so destroyed by cancer or other illness or destroyed to a point they wanted to destroy the body?

I suppose I'm ultra sensitive, as well, as my daughter looks EXACTLY like her father and it brings it closer to home...but I don't see the effects of this cremation on my psyche goign away any time soon and maybe some insight would help from those with opposing views. My daughter's father is the first person I've really known that has been cremated...everyone else I've known was buried in tact in a coffin and that didn't have any effect on me at all except to know they had passed on...I jsut feel like they mutilated him and its kind of bugging me...maybe mutilated is a bit strong, but its just BUGGING me.

My mother in law was cremated, as well, but she died before I could meet her and my husband says he has feelings that are the same.

Any help please?
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:27 PM   #2
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I plan to be cremated. I will be dead, I don't really care anything about my body, cremation is a much much much cheaper option. I would respect any of family's wishes in regards to this final matter. If they want to be cremated and have their ashes scattered in some remote place, cool. If they want a big funeral and a crypt in a mauseleum, cool.

To me, cremation seems like a tidy solution. It's quick, it's cheap, it definitely doesn't HURT - I would be dead!

My philosophy - The shell is here, but the nut is gone.

Just curious - what do you feel about organ donation? I am an ardent supporter of organ donation and have made my intentions very clear in my will and to my family/friends. Would you consider that mutilation as well?
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:28 PM   #3
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Techwife, I hope I don't offend, I know this may be tough for you.

Death is difficult to cope with. I had a very tough time with dealing with death when I was in High school. I had a lot of relatives, especially close ones, die all in a matter of a short period of time. I was so tired of funerals that I stopped going to them. I haven't been to a funeral in a long time but that is more of circumstance than anything else. So death is hard but it is something we all have to cope with at some point or another.

Now having said that and being removed from your situation, I have had some relatives die recently and they too were cremated. It is unusual for my family to do cremations but there are many cultures that do cremate.

Your loved ones/former loved ones are no longer in the shell that was their body. Depending on your beliefs, you can say they are somewhere else or they cease to exist. One way or another, their bodies become dust, either through the natural process or through cremation. In cremation, their bodies are no longer there quicker than in other forms. So really, there body no longer serves the purpose it did during their life so why not cremate? I know it may bring home the fact that they are gone quicker than burying them. But do you really want to think of them as sticking around in their body while buried 6 feet underground? Whatever your beliefs, follow them and think of him somewhere else, somewhere better.

Give yourself some time to mourn, get angry, frustrated, etc if you need to then remember him for the happy memories that you had together and the fact that both of you created a life together.

Edit: Forgot to add that I don't care if I'm buried or cremated. I'd probably be cremated and then ashes spread somewhere. I don't feel like taking up burial space when I'm dead because I won't be there.
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:33 PM   #4
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I am sorry to hear of your ex's death and your rough time.
I grew up in a Catholic family where there was big time resistance to cremation, that I don't understand. With the growing population there is simply not enough room on the earth to have everyone buried in cemeteries. So for me it is a matter of land use that causes me to want to be cremated. Also as others have said, I believe that when the soul leaves the body, the body no longer has any use so I don't see a reason to attempt to preserve it. Just my opinion.
Hope you will find peace with what has taken place....
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:37 PM   #5
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First, I am so incredibly sorry that you are going through this. No matter the current status of your relationship, it's never easy saying goodbye to someone you share such history with.

When my best friend's mother passed on at 45, she was cremated as well and her young daughters (13, 19. and 21) had a very difficult time with it at first. They lost her so suddenly and at such a young age, that it was like insult to injury that they wouldn't be able to grieve "with" her at her grave.

But that was her wish and she had made that very clear to her husband and the girls did find peace with it, especially since she lays in inturnment (or however you say it).

My parents both want to be cremated and it is the common practice in my family, so I don't know if I will have an issue with it or not when that time comes. My mother is a "free spirit" of sorts and I think her thoughts are that she wants to be scattered in the wind and she finds it silly to take up space when she's not really "here". I think in cases of cremation, it does come down to the person's wishes. I have always assumed that burial is the practice if the person didn't specify their wishes. I do think that it is harder for family members to accept sometimes, but the people I know who have experienced that have always found peace.

Again, I'm sorry that you and your daughter are going through this. I hope you find your peace soo as well
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:39 PM   #6
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I want to be cremated when the time comes as well. My mother has also decided she wants to be cremated. Her mother (my grandmother) passed away about 2 years ago, and my mother said it was the hardest thing she's ever had to do in her life to sit in the funeral home during the viewings and service and have to see her dead mother's body laying right in front of her. She said that when the time comes, she wants to be cremated so that my sister and I don't have to go through that same thing (not that losing a parent is easy by any means in either way, but I completely understand her point).

I guess the way I see it is that there is no real reason to keep the body intact. The person inside is gone, so what's really the point of keeping the body together just so it can rot in the ground? I know that may sound harsh, but it's true--is there really much difference between turning the body into ashes right away versus letting it decay and crumble naturally over time?

And, yes, it is much less expensive as well. No sense sticking my loved ones with tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary (IMO, of course) expenses.

I guess I'm quite the opposite--I would think the only reasons to keep a body intact might be spiritual, and based on my own personal beliefs, I see no benefit.
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:45 PM   #7
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No matter what is done to a loved ones body after they die, it's never pleasant. Personally, even though I had very similar thoughts as yours when my father was cremated, it was much worse for me for years to wonder about my grandfather, who was locked in a little box somewhere below the ground. And it's probably that thought that makes me want to be cremated also, and in fact I want my ashes scattered, not kept in an urn. I know that once I'm gone, I won't care, but I can't stand to think of it now, so I've had to make that desicion, to make it easier to LIVE with the thought - does that make sense?

My father was cremated for similar reasons, which was his own wish.

I guess my point is, it's never easy, but some people are more bothered with the thought of burial than cremation. Anyway I think the most important thing is to respect the wishes of the person who died, if they had any.
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:45 PM   #8
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I am sorry for your loss. Lots of hugs to you

I was going to say basically the same thing as Nelie. First DH had wanted to be cremated when he passed (didn't think it would be so soon) and that is what we agreed on. I honored his wishes but when I started thinking about it I thought what a horrible thing to do. I could see his body burning in that stinking oven. Do you know that if you wish you can actually watch them do it? Ummm, no thank you. But I remembered our talks about death and burial. He did not want his whole body to be put in the ground...he said he just kept picturing bugs and such crawling all over his dead body, even though they wouldn't be able to get in the coffin, I think. Anyway...my whole thought is that once a person dies they are no longer with us. Their physical body is but their soul/spirit has already moved on and that is what helped me not think of the process of cremation. After losing a baby a few years ago we did the same with our little baby boy and it didn't bother me this time. I too plan on being cremated.
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Old 03-08-2007, 03:05 PM   #9
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First of all, hugs to you and your daughter at this difficult time.

When my grandmother died, she was cremated, which I didn't quite understand at the time (I was 16 and this was the first person close to me who had died). Turns out her husband had also been cremated and their ashes would be together at the mortuary. So that made it a bit more understandable.

Years later, I found out that my mother also wishes to be cremated and both DH and I feel the same way. Why take up space? We won't be there. No one is going to come and visit us. Spread my ashes somewhere--anywhere really. I just don't wish to be "planted."

On the other hand, it is the wishes of my father that really throw me for a loop. He wants his body donated to science. He will be a cadaver for medical students. That totally grosses me out, but he was a doctor and he understands the need for such things (I guess). So we won't have a funeral for him--just a memorial service.

Glory asked about organ donation. After having worked in the medical field for many, many years, I think that organ donation is the most wonderful and altruistic gift you can give. If any of my loved ones (and yes, even my children) were injured in such a way that there was no hope, I would not hesitate for a moment to donate their organs (despite how hard it would be).
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Old 03-08-2007, 03:06 PM   #10
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Actually, this is the first time I've ever given it much thought but the thought of being cremated in one fell swoop is much more pleasant, in my opinion, than decaying for weeks or months or years (ICK!). Try not to think about what happened after he died. It sounds like you had some good times before the bad....try and dwell on those. That's the essense of his earthly life, anyway.
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Old 03-08-2007, 03:41 PM   #11
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Tech, I'm adding my condolences on your and your daughter's loss. You have lost someone you shared so much with and without so much as a goodbye. I was raised Catholic Christian and for the longest time was told that cremation was not allowed because the body is a temple and would be returned to you in perfect condition upon entrance to heaven. Views changed and cremation was allowed in certain circumstances, but you had to have the body intact to perform any religious ceremony. The church has since changed it's views in 97 and has allowed the cremated remains to enter the church for the rites of burial. I don't know the exact reasons why, but I am glad they now allow it. I have told my husband that I wish to be cremated and then scattered--not at sea, because I don't really like the sea, but maybe somewhere or several places that I have traveled and loved. He jokes that my remains will be scattered at Target in Las Vegas and at WalMart here at home.

Other religions, esp. Buddhism or Hinduism cremate because they believe the smoke rising from the body allows the soul to leave and enter heaven.

I choose not to think about the visuals of the physical body being cremated, nor do I choose to dwell on the same if it were buried. Upon death, the real "soul" of a person is gone on to a better place and the physical body is just a shell. My 2 cents.

Alinell, I think it's really interesting that people would donate their bodies to science. Our medical school here is no longer taking names because they have enough names of donors. The only thing that I would regret is that in my town, you can't have the body for any ceremonial or religious purposes. The univeristy gets it right off the bat.
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Old 03-08-2007, 04:10 PM   #12
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First of all

My husband and I both plan to be cremated, it just fits more with our beliefs. (And as corny as this sounds...I am extremely claustrophobic, burial just doesnt suit me)

My father was cremated when he passed a bit over a year ago. One of the truly beautiful parts of that for him (he knew he was dying) is he got his ashes spread at the place that was most meaningful to him. He was a professor of theater for over 40 years at a small college in PA. Teaching and directing were his life and he was never more him then when he was there. (I learned far more about my dad by observing his productions and his students than I ever did from him directly)

The bulk of his ashes were scattered in the pond behind the theatre where he used to go to think and plan. The remainder were spread in a circle around the building that houses the theatre . If any part of the spirit remains with the body, then his spirit is in the place he loved most and the only place in his life that he felt comfortable with who he was.

What meaning is there in a graveyard.
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Old 03-08-2007, 04:30 PM   #13
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I'm a strong believer in cremation too. The visitation process and the funeral service don't have to be any different, the only thing that changes is the interrment and, for most people, it is the service that is the time when goodbyes are said.

There are two main reasons that cremation appeals to me -- one is very general; it seems such a waste of land to take up large amounts of it to bury people's bodies after they are gone -- the other is personal; I hate the thoought of bugs getting on me. What I don't like is the idea of someone keeping me in a vase on their mantel. Either bury the ashes or scatter them, please.
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Old 03-08-2007, 04:37 PM   #14
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My Dad always said he wanted to be cremated and that he did not want to be embalmed. When he died 3 years ago I had a very hard time with this because I was 3000 miles away when he died, I never got to see the body. I think that would have helped me alot if my grief. But, I had too much respect for his wishes to have him embalmed just so that I could see him. He wanted to be cremated because he didn't want a fancy, expensive, elaborate funeral. Also, he felt that since he was dead, what did it matter? He was cremated and after his funeral my brother brought Dad to Florida and spread his ashes on the beach he used to patrol as an Airforce MP years and years ago.

My partner and I both plan to be cremated and have our ashes scattered into the ocean together once we both have passed. I've come to realize it's not what happens to your body once you've passed........it's what you do with it and your life while you are here.

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Old 03-08-2007, 04:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by royalsfan1 View Post
Actually, this is the first time I've ever given it much thought but the thought of being cremated in one fell swoop is much more pleasant, in my opinion, than decaying for weeks or months or years (ICK!).
This was my first thought. If the image is troubling, there can be an equally disturbing image of burial. I really have no leanings towards either. I'm not particular with what happens to my body when I'm gone, since I won't be living in it any longer. But I guess it's like moving. If the new tennants in my old house burn it down, I might miss it's passing. Maybe I could have driven by it once in awhile...the memories. With a grave, I think it's more for the people left behind, they can visit. So maybe that's why our obsession with burial so much. Hard to say.
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