Over the last decades, there has been a shift towards cremation over burial. Across our communities and society, there is an increasing trend towards cremation, and this may well be associated with the understanding for and concerns we have about our environment. Direct cremation is very much the environmentally friendly option. Many people seek to leave our planet a better place. Some cemetery sites nowadays use trees rather than gravestones as markers. When a cremation occurs, ashes can be provided to family or loved ones, and these ashes can then be used in a meaningful and symbolic way to honour those who have passed away. When a body is cremated, the ashes can be held in a special container or jar. They can be used in the soil to plant a special tree home or at a garden. Scattering ashes in a special place that is full of memory is a beautiful and meaningful way of farewelling a loved one. Coffins can be made from recycled paper or non-toxic materials. The materials used at cemeteries; like marble and stone, can be expensive. Many cemeteries have limited space and use up land which could be claimed for other purposes. The idea of creating expense and a permanent environmental problem after their death is not ideal for many people. Direct cremation helps us all reflect on the impermanence of our existence. Selecting the environmentally friendly options can help send a message about the life you led and the type of future you want to leave for the next generation.

The Process

Different cultures and denominations have different ways of conducting cremations. There is evidence that Indigenous Australians were cremating their deceased as long as forty thousand years ago. The practice is very common amongst Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists and is becoming increasingly common in Australia today, among Christians and people who do not have a particular religious association. Although it is a common practice, many of us can’t really imagine what actually happens during the direct cremation process. The first step is to ensure proper identification steps have been carried out. There are professional standards and processes in place to ensure that each body is correctly identified and is handled with special and individual care. Only one casket can be handled at a time. The body is placed into the container which has been selected. Containers are made from combustible materials in several styles. Cremation chambers are called retorts. Once the container is placed in the retort, it is exposed to extreme heat and open flame. The whole process takes a couple of hours. In some cases, loved ones are allowed to attend the crematorium for some of this time. Once the retort has cooled down, a magnet is used to remove metallic elements, and then the remaining ashes, which are typically bone fragments, are ground, gathered and provided to the family or loved ones. Although ashes are not considered to cause environmental issues, there are some local rules around where ashes can be disposed of in public areas. Direct Cremations has excellent knowledge and skills when it comes to unattended cremations.

Burial versus Unattended Cremation

In the late 19th century in Australia, there was little acceptance for direct cremation. But since about the year 2000, the percentage of Australians choosing to be cremated has been in excess of fifty percent. This figure continues to rise each year. In some countries, such as Japan, there is an almost one hundred percent direct cremation rate. Depending on religion, culture and individual beliefs, most people have a preference for either burial or cremation. As family members age or become unwell, it is a good idea to talk to them about their preferences for what happens to them after they have passed away. Although the conversation may be a little uncomfortable, it is better to know the wishes of those people who are close to you. Some people will still prefer a burial. When a body is interred in a cemetery, it creates a place that family can visit to pay respect and reflect on the life of their loved ones. But there are still ways that reflective practices can occur when a body has been cremated. Ashes may be held in an urn. They may be returned to the ground at a person’s home, or used in a garden. Some people like the idea of having their ashes scattered at sea. Your loved one might have asked you to scatter their ashes at the local footy oval or local lookout point. Direct Cremations Melbourne also has a memorial garden around their crematorium. When a person is cremated, there is still an opportunity to share a special commemorative ritual as the ashes are scattered. There are no real rules about ceremonies for the scattering of ashes. You might play a special song, watch video clips of your loved one or release a balloon. Direct cremations tend to be simpler and cheaper but are just as meaningful as a burial.