Burial or cremation

Family tradition usually dictates whether a person will be cremated or buried. If your parents were cremated, the likelihood is that you will be too and the same goes for burial.
Let's be honest, it’s not something that most of us make a conscious decision about, often leaving it up to our family to decide after we’ve gone.
But if you have bought or are considering a funeral plan, then you may also be thinking about the options for how you want the celebration of your life to look after you’ve gone. There are also financial implications regarding your choice, which will also affect your funeral plan and the way the money you are investing in it gets spent.
Cremation is a relatively new ritual compare to burial. We have Welsh native Dr William Price to thank for the practice. He was tried for cremating his infant son, which the police believed was illegal, but Price argued that cremation was not illegal, and the judge agreed. Cremation was then made legal in 1884, rising in popularity in post-war Britain.
Latest statistics from the Cremation Society of Great Britain* found that 77% of those who died in 2017 were cremated.
Burial on the other hand has been around for centuries, with evidence showing that Neanderthals were the first to bury their dead. Burial rates in the UK have dropped, however, as the popularity of cremation continues to rise.
A poll in 2016 found that only 17% of those surveyed wanted burial. Natural or green burials are also now getting more popular where there are no headstones, no embalming and a tree or shrubbery is used to mark the burial plot.
Why choose a burial?
For many, burials are the more traditional option and, in some religions, cremation is also forbidden, making burial the only option.
Some people also like the fact that with burial you have some finality to the funeral – the loved one is laid to rest, and you can say goodbye properly as the coffin is lowered into the ground.
There is also the ability to visit the grave and the headstone and have somewhere to visit to grieve and contemplate. It gives you a physical place to visit the loved one, talk to them and think about them.
Why choose cremation?
Cremation is cheaper. The average cremation fee in the UK in 2017 was £783.18*. Burials are more expensive as you have to pay for the burial plot, as well as the funeral directors’ costs, meaning you are effectively paying for more.
Cremation also offers more choice, with cheaper options for the funeral itself available, such as a direct funeral where the body is simply cremated without a ceremony. Family members can keep the ashes and do what they want to commemorate their loved one by spreading them at a special place, turn them into jewellery, planting a tree on top of them – the options go on.
The environmental impact of cremation and burial is otherwise difficult to calculate. With burial it depends on the way a person is buried, what kind of coffin they are buried in, whether they are embalmed and the space a burial plot takes up. Cremation takes up no space with a plot, yet a cremator uses about 285 KW hours of gas and 15kWh of electricity on average per cremation - roughly the same amount of energy that a single person uses for a month.
Think about it when buying a plan
Considering options like these can be difficult when you are still healthy and loving life, but it is important to thinK long and hard about how you’d like your remains to be treated after your death.
It will help your loved ones when it comes to making the decision and will also help you manage the amount of money you need for your ideal funeral plan. If you are planning on being buried, then you need to factor in the cost of a burial plot etc.
Whatever you choose, Protect Your Family gives you all of the options available to you, giving you and your loved ones peace of mind that when you are gone, your final send off will be decided and paid for.
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