What are some alternatives to burial and cremation services?

If you are considering a funeral arrangement for a loved one, understanding all the choices available can help you to make an informed decision.

What are some alternatives to burial and cremation services?

Funeral costs

Traditional burials can be expensive. Although they remain popular, with the cost of caskets, pallbearers, embalming and other expenses, most Canadians spend up to $10,000 on a traditional burial. According to many funeral directors, opting for a traditional cremation and service — instead of a burial — means that you can expect to spend a good deal less. However, one of the chief reasons that people opt for burial and cremation alternatives is that the overall cost is usually lower still. Depending on the choice made, some alternative funerals can be very affordable. Direct cremation, for example, is an ever-popular choice, where the deceased is transferred from the place of death directly to the crematorium — with no service — for an immediate cremation. Families then tend to hold their own memorial later on, sometimes at home.

Green burials

More recently, many people have begun to consider the environmental impact of their funeral arrangements. Green burials, where embalming fluids and heavy caskets are not used, are becoming a more common choice. Environmentally responsible funerals do include burials, but they take place at a shallower depth with biodegradable materials used to cover the body — sometimes in a shroud or a wicker casket. Green burials have a simplicity that appeals to many people and they often cost less than a more traditional arrangement.

Burial at sea

A less common alternative is burial at sea. Regulated by the National Office of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, disposing of a body in the sea means having to comply with certain regulations. These include the type of casket that can be used, a means of identifying the deceased and the location of the burial, which must be at least three nautical miles from land. Although it is not for everyone, burial at sea is something that some individuals like to explore as an option.

Celebrations of life

Some funeral alternatives can be more like a party. This celebratory event can be useful for grieving families who want to honour their loved one in a way that the deceased would have liked. These events tend to be highly personalized, for instance, involving a favourite activity of the deceased, or perhaps their choice of music. Many professional funeral directors are now used to helping coordinate these sorts of celebrations.

To conclude, funeral arrangements are a matter of personal choice. Traditional services continue to have their place but for many Canadians, something alternative offers the final chance to express themselves.

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