Some of you may already know that the cremation process isn’t for you. A lot of you may be approaching the decision of cremation vs burial for the first time like I was. No matter where you stand, or what your opinion, I invite you to read a little bit of information about cremation, and how I found healing through my choice to cremate my son.
The funeral planning process is difficult enough, and when faced with planning a funeral for an infant, the last thing you sit down and think about are logistics. In a nation where almost 70% of funerals ended in a burial* (2005*), it is actually quite a rarity to find any decent information about cremation aside from details of the process and pricing. What about the emotional side of cremation?
I am a mother who chose cremation when I suddenly lost my son in the middle of the night in March of 2011. As an “earth friendly mom”, I knew that if someone in my family ever died, I wanted to choose cremation as a way to continue to save the earth while putting to rest the family member who died.
My son lived a life where he was breastfed, cloth diapered, and enjoyed his only solid foods homemade (all organic) by Mom. I couldn’t imagine any other way to compliment his short life than by choosing cremation. What I didn’t realize at the time, were the numerous benefits that cremation would have (versus a burial) from an emotional standpoint.
Gone are the days of ceramic urns sitting over a fireplace screaming “DEAD PERSON!” Not only do urns come in an assortment of statues, vases, boxes, sculptures, crystals and traditional urns; but the new cremation “keepsakes” have as many different options as there are people. You can have your loved one with you all the time in a variety of ways. There are pendants, keychains, rings, blown glass keepsakes, DIAMONDS or other gems, memorials, bookends, and so on… The possibilities are endless.
The “urns” of today are nothing like the depressing urns of the past; I’ve seen ceramic babies riding Harley’s, glass sculptures of birds, a blown glass candle holder and much more; never knowing that it was holding the remains of a loved one!
Another interesting cremation option is that you can use the ashes of your loved ones in a tattoo. I’m NOT kidding, you can mix your loved ones ashes into tattoo ink and have a special tattoo to memorialize your loved one eternally. I realize this option isn’t for everyone, but with approximately 15% of the US population having at least one tattoo, I think it’s important to include this little known fact.
Cremation also allows you to bring your baby home with you. There is no “goodbye” at a graveside service. There is no concern over moving away from your local cemetery if a better job, or other option presents itself; leaving you with worry over “leaving your child behind”. Cremation pendants are tasteful and inconspicuous; and, in most cases, are literally filled and given to you prior to the memorial service for your baby.
If finances play a role in your decision, you might be interested to know that the cost difference between a burial vs cremation is significant as well. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average US burial with a metal* casket and vault costs an average of approximately $7,755. This price does not include costs associated with the cemetery, monument/marker, obituaries, etc. The average cost of a service with cremation costs an average of approximately $3,640 (excluding obituary). That’s nearly a $4,000 difference.
The question nearly everyone asks me is, “How do you get the image of your baby burning out of your mind?” I nearly hesitated to post this part, but any parent who is considering the option has already had this thought enter their mind at least once, I’m almost certain of that. For me, I personally feel that my son’s body was just a vessel that held his soul. In my opinion, his soul was no longer there, and all that was left was a body of skin and bones. I shook the thought of “my baby burning” out of my head the same way I would have with the thought of “my baby being under 6 feet of dirt”…. The body that is in question is just a body, in my mind.
My family and I have been able to use the fact that our baby was cremated as a form of healing:
A few days after our son’s funeral, my husband and I used his ashes in tattoo ink. Having a tattoo so complex was a thought I had never entertained before, but the process was so healing for me that I truly can not even describe it.
A month after our son died we took a vacation to Cabo San Lucas. We took a small container of his ashes and incorporated them into some family activities. (This was of GREAT help to our 6 year old daughter). We spread his ashes as we parasailed over the sea lions in the ocean. We spread his ashes as we swam with the dolphins. And before we left, our entire family (grandparents included) went to the edge of tide and spread his ashes so they could be free to roam where they may.
As we celebrated the 4th of July holiday this year, a favorite of my husbands, we decided to incorporate some ashes then, too. My husband filled a few fireworks with our sons ashes, and put two of the biggest brightest fireworks up in the sky for our firework finale. How many kids literally get to go up in a firework and rain down upon us?
We plan to use our son’s ashes in little ways like this as long as it seems beneficial to our family. I’m fairly certain that on every far away trip, on every cross-continent voyage, as we step onto new ground, we will leave a little of our son in all of the new spots we wish he were here to share with us. After all, he would want us to be happy.
These aren’t the reasons we originally chose cremation. But these are the reasons that make us so grateful that we did. And maybe after reading this, you realize cremation is an option you are interested in looking into.
If cremation isn’t an option that you have an interest in, that’s okay, too! I just wanted to share my personal story of our healing through the choice of cremation, and put some information on the table that you may not have read before.