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What to Do When Someone Dies: Choosing Disposition

Published: March 15, 2024

When planning your own funeral or a funeral for a loved one, one of the most difficult questions can be what disposition to choose. Should you or your loved one be cremated? Or is burial a better option? Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your choice.

Choosing Burial

Burial creates a place for your loved ones to gather to pay their respects. When you’re cremated, your remains may be in an urn that goes to one loved one. Or your ashes may be scattered, with no specific location for friends and family to return to when they’re missing you. A gravesite provides a tangible connection to the world where loved ones can go to remember you. For many people, going to that one place where they feel you are there gives them great comfort. It’s also quite common for families to want to be buried together. There’s a quiet solace in feeling that you will forever be laid to rest with the ones you love. Many significant others will purchase plots together so they can be side by side for eternity.

Anyone can choose burial, but for followers of certain religions, and depending on how strictly they follow that religion, cremation isn’t a consideration. Most practicing Muslims follow the strict rule that cremation is desecration and prohibited. Similarly, Orthodox Jews do not allow cremation and believe that the body should be buried intact.

Even if their religion doesn’t suggest so, some people believe that cremation doesn’t respect the human body. Those who would prefer to be buried often simply don’t like the idea of the cremation process. Since cremation was, for so long, not a preferred way of disposition, some people feel that it’s more traditional to have a funeral and a burial right after. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to follow tradition.

Choosing Cremation

Over the past 65 years, there’s been a 1658.33 percent increase in the number of people choosing cremation. Over 69.5 percent of Americans are expected to choose cremation in 2030. So, why was there such a drastic rise in the cremation rate?

One of the biggest reasons comes down to land scarcity and other environmental concerns. In 2021 alone, over 3.4 million people died in the United States. Although that number is elevated in comparison to previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trends suggest that the U.S. will continue to see over 3 million people die each year. As the U.S. has an aging population, grave scarcity is becoming a concern, and there’s often pushback when it comes to increasing cemetery space.

Another reason for the growing cremation rate is a greater level of acceptance in the process. Historically, strict interpretations of many different religious texts have meant that followers of that religion do not believe in cremation. In Catholicism, cremation was forbidden until 1963 when the Vatican lifted the prohibition. In Jewish law, the human body belongs to God, and therefore cremation is a destruction of property. Still, many Jewish followers opt for cremation in the modern age. As some religions have loosened restrictions or followers have adjusted their interpretation of religious texts, the rate of cremation in the U.S. has skyrocketed.

Cremation also opens the door for many different forms of memorialization. Some people find comfort in the idea of their loved one’s ashes being spread in places that meant a lot to them in life. Many funeral homes and companies will help you spread those cremated remains according to your loved one’s wishes, such as a boating company taking you out to sea to scatter the ashes in the water.

Disposition is a very personal choice, and although there are pros and cons to both burial and cremation, there’s no wrong answer. The answer just has to be right for you and your loved ones. If you know you’re going to be planning a loved one’s funeral and disposition, make time to talk with them before they pass so you’ll make a choice guided by their final wishes. When trying to make this decision for yourself or your loved one, your funeral director will be your greatest resource to answer any questions.

Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home has been serving the families of Fayetteville, North Carolina and surrounding communities since 1930. The funeral home serves families of all faiths with the highest quality funeral, memorial, burial, and cremation services. They are especially proud to serve veterans and members of the military community with respect and dignity. Find more information about the Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home and their services by visiting
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