Cremation is a process by which cadavers are reduced to a minimal chemical compound such as ash. It’s a time-honored funeral option that humans have used for a long time.
In more recent years, cremation has gained popularity for a multitude of reasons. Cremation is less expensive than other options, it doesn’t impact the environment as much as a traditional burial, and people who prearrange their funeral often find this to be a beautifully minimalist solution.
With all of this being said, how did it get so popular in America? Here is a brief history:
The beginning of cremation
In 1873, an Italian professor named Lodovico Brunetti published his work on the first ever cremation chamber. It started as a movement to promote cremation in both Europe and the US. And it was started by doctors who were worried that burying entire bodies would spread disease and cause other problems for the public health.
This caused the first crematorium in North America to be built in Washington, PA in 1876. After this, the Cremation Association of America was formed to promote the modern cremation process which we know and use today.
Members of this group consisted of doctors, as well as citizens who were worried that body burials would create risks concerns for the living. It gained popularity amongst the educated and the wealthy.
The rise of traditional burials
Once it was shown that traditional burials weren’t necessarily bad for the environment, cremation lost momentum. After this, cremation became more of a choice for preparing the body to memorialize after death. It opened up new ways to remember a loved one. This is the way many people view cremation today. People can keep the ashes of their passed loved ones in urns as a memorial.
What is done with these ashes varies depends on the individual and the family. It is illegal in most US states to scatter the ashes, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people. Those mourning often disregard the law and scatter their loved one’s ashes in familiar or natural locations that the loved one had requested.
A less risky approach is burying the ashes. The last option is keeping them in a memorial or urn somewhere safe. Cremation gives those in mourning more options and is popular for that reason alone. People like the freedom to mourn how they wish.
Cremation became popular in America
Cremation is popular today partly because we’ve become more nomadic over time. People are more likely to pass away far from home. Cremation gives a sort of mobility that is needed to be buried on a family plot of land elsewhere.
Areas of the US with low cremation rates are areas with more “rooted” characteristics, according to a report from CANA, the Cremation Association of North America. Areas with higher religious populations and more manufacturing companies had a lower rate of cremation. In contrast, areas with high concentrations of small businesses, less religious affiliation, and more immigrants had higher cremation rates.
Cremation is becoming more and more popular as society progresses. It still remains a cost-effective and minimalistic option that many see the good in. Basic cremation can cost as little as $2,200, according to CANA.
If you still have questions, it’s best to contact a cremation provider to have your questions answered and your concerns addressed. Being educated about you and your loved one’s options is essential to feeling peace of mind with age.