Death may be an integral part of life but aside from sex, it may be one

of the most difficult subjects to discuss with family. Aside from considerations pertaining to costs, religious restrictions or ceremonies, military or lodge affiliation, and the predetermined wishes of the deceased, one subject that must be considered and weighed is traditional funeral arrangements versus cremation.

Currently, for a plethora of reasons cremation is becoming the dominate final arrangement. A recent study determined that 42 percent of Americans had chosen cremation versus the traditional funeral. That number has doubled in less than two decades. Here is in the western United States, cremation rates are among the highest in the nation topping 70 percent on average. In Nevada and Washington the rate is even higher, and in Arizona the service is  increasing annually. The southeast has the lowest rates for cremation. 

The reasons for the rise in cremation are as varied and diverse as the families making these decision. A dramatic shift in regard to religious views and beliefs are one reasons. As an example, until 1963 the Catholic church forbid cremation. Another contributing factor is the changing face of the American nuclear family. As families are often separated by thousands of miles, and as the structure of the family has changed, cremation is increasingly viewed as a cost-effective measure. Often the cost of cremation is as much as two thirds less than a traditional funeral. The cost of a plot is also a consideration, especially in urban areas where the costs can be exorbitant.

Related to the growing trend in cremation versus traditional funerals are non traditional options for the ashes of the deceased. As an example, several companies now offer to shoot cremation ashes, in a sealed flight container, into space where they will orbit the earth for decades. A similar service is being provided by some firework companies. Specially modified fireworks with the ashes are used to create a unique and memorable memorial service. If the deceased was environmentally minded, there are companies that will mix the ashes with concrete which then can be used to create an artificial coral reef, or repair damaged reefs. And if you wish to honor the deceased and provide future generations with a direct connection, there are now companies that will crush the ashes under pressure, apply heat, and create a gemstone that on a molecular level is identical to natural diamonds. After several months when the process is complete, the gem can be crafted into jewelry that will be an heirloom for years to come.

Arizona Affordable Funeral Home and Crematory may not be able to assist with some of the more exotic options now available to families. Their compassionate and knowledgeable staff can, however, assist with making difficult decisions, make final arrangements based on last wishes, and accommodate special religious needs.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America



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