We had a *lively* discussion about burial and cremation in our cross-generational Sunday School class. At one point my husband asked if there were more comments and eight hands went up at the same time.
I need time to develop my thoughts into a full entry. Many folks choose cremation today because it is the most economical way to deal with a dead body. A sixteen year old girl raised her hand and replied, “Yes, and a ceremony at the courthouse with the Justice of the Peace is the most economical way to get married.”
In the same way the massive wedding industry has convinced many brides their wedding is probably not valid unles they spend $20K, the funeral industry has capitalized on grief and guilt in obscene ways.
Meanwhile I’m gulping in Cold Sassy Tree and came across this quote:
I had my youngest daughter write a paper on this for school last year, and she did a great job. Her conclusion was that as far as cremation goes, she was agin’ it. I’m looking forward to what you have to say on it, Carol!
I’m looking forward to your thoughts. My dh and I have come down on the side of buryin’, but we’ve not looked that deeply at it and don’t have a well-thought-out buryin’ philosophy, yet.
I’m on the buryin’ side 🙂
Not sure what I think. I’d be interested to hear Curt’s thoughts, too. All I think about when I do think about it is the time my stepmom announced to me that she and Dad had bought “matching seafoam green coffins”! Funny how things like that stick in your mind…
I’m on the buryin’ side too. We just buried my baby cousin this week…40 years old and literally dropped dead. Sure puts life in perspective. My Grandpa and my Dad have an interesting perspective….and I quote “throw my ashes over the bank!” And that is exactly what we did with Grandpa’s ashes. So there ya have it. I have little to no perspective on the theology part of this but buryin’ just seems more “christian” to me…I’m thinkin’ I may need to poke around about this now.
Well, I tend to get rather tongue-tied with discussions like that (see my most recent blog entry for a similar- but more disturbing – discussion on the treatment of the body after death). I am thankful that Eastern Orthodox has a well developed praxis concerning burial which states that we may not cremate. In the best of circumstances we shouldn’t even be embalmed, but I think this is becoming more prevelent.
I have the sequel to Cold Sassy Tree. It starts out as a book and ends as notes, since she was dying when she wrote it. Want me to look for it? Of course it isn’t as good as the first.I am okay with cremation, but want to be buried. I want a place people can put real flowers on each memorial day. I will refuse to have silk flowers on my grave. But I think God will take you either way.
buryin’ is all fine and good, but buryin’ WHAT? ashes? body? part of my eschatology sort of thinks [yeah, it’s not well reasoned out yet :)] that when the new heaven and earth come, i kind of am going to need these parts to make my NEW body, but on the other hand, if it’s all going to be NEW, then i’m not going to be hauling around this same ol’ carcass… so, I don’t know what I think. But I do lean to buryin’ instead of spreadin’ all around. How will fertilizer come back together in a new creation??! I’m just keepin’ it real here.;)
I did quite a bit of reading on “caring for your own dead” a few years ago. My conclusion is that I wish to be buried, but NOT embalmed. Embalming was a creation of the funeral industry. Without embalming you can’t have public viewing, which also suits me just fine. Bury me quickly and then have a memorial service (or mass, depending on my ultimate decision there!) a few days later. I even looked into home burial but I don’t think we have enough acreage to do that in Illinois.Looking forward to your full thoughts on this subject!
As far as the new body upon resurrection, I know that God can gather molecules that are scattered to the winds and recreate them into a new body. Otherwise what about all the martyrs who were burned at the stake?I don’t know about choosing cremation, though. I know my dad firmly wants to be cremated, and his only reason is that when we left his father’s coffin in the ground at the cemetery, it bothered him to no end the thought of him lying there under ground. Not rational or theological – purely an emotional response. I don’t have a theological opinion, but it’s an interesting topic, that’s for sure.Carrie
I come down on the burying side for a couple of reasons:a) It was God’s choice to bury Mosesb) It seems to fulfill the image Paul uses in I Corinthians 15 about sowing seed into the ground and seeing it spring forth to new life. Having said that, I would honor the choice of others to be cremated if they so wished, but I feel pretty strongly about burial for myself and my own loved ones.
no theology here, just loose thoughts: the topic of death – emotional, and even more so for the people left behind; loyalty to custom plays a role – more for those left behind then for the soul who is unaware; does it really matter in the bigger scheme of things? (is it a topic similar to that of adult / infant baptism?)
Hello Carol, I look forward to reading more comments on this thread. Like many of the others, I’ve thought only vaguely about this subject, concluding that cremation somehow seems “unChristian”. Since burial and funeral costs have become astronomically expensive I think some Christians see cremation as better stewardship of their money. I liked it that Ruth Graham chose to be buried in a cheap coffin built by prisoners. No show. Just good common sense. My precious in-laws have paid for their own funerals on a pre-payment plan so as not to put their children in debt. This must surely be the first generation to do such a thing.I’m glad you are enjoying Cold Sassy Tree. I heard about it in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Woman’s Heart (a book which I read oh so slyly before giving it to my sister as a gift).
This is something my husband and I have talked lots about. We neither of us want to be embalmed — quite apart from cost, the symbolism is all wrong, trying to make your body incorruptible. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” For that reason we’d both prefer to be buried in a wooden coffin w/o a concrete sarcophogus (or whatever they call that). And best of all would be to be buried in a church yard, but a family grave yard would be second best.Generally we oppose cremation because, again, the symbolism is all wrong. But if our only option were to be embalmed and be buried a municipal cemetary we’d much rather be cremated. A church we once belonged to had a columbarium in its courtyard, which seems a decent option in that were the case and there were no church yard available for burial. But being buried on family property might take precedence over being placed in a columbarium, if we were faced with those choices, because we think it’s better to be put actually in the ground.I love the words from the Prayer Book: “UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the earth and the sea shall give up their dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.”
Well, you know my thoughts. I love that my family has their coffins built by themselves or by others, that we have ground to bury them in, that we talk about it all while we’re alive so that when one of us dies, we have something to do when ‘you don’t know what to do’. I loved picking out the satin for the linings of the coffins for those that have died at home: dusty rose pink for Grandma M, babyblue for Grandpa M, and Mom had me pick out hers before she died so she could approve! It was a lavender. It is like giving a gift, even though they are so obviously gone, and no one else but a few people and God will ever see it. But not all deaths are so expected, and expected or not, we must face the ramifications of dying, both regarding our souls and those we leave behind. There are many that have no choice at all in how their ‘remains’ will remain. But, if one can plan, they should. It is a comfort to those left.
@buriedtreasure – @sweetbriarpatch – @hiddenart – @LimboLady –@toomanyhats – @DebD – @Wildflowersp – @wonderloveandpraise – @secros60 – @nnjmom – @hopeinbrazil – @BadgerMum – @Btolly – I appreciate all of your comments. It has kept the thoughts swirling around! I’m leaving town and won’t get around to a larger post this week or next, but I will try to articulate what Curt and I have been discussing….as soon as I am able!