Cremation or burial – which is the right choice for you?

While it can be emotionally difficult to plan for your passing, making decisions now and discussing them with your family will make things much easier for them when you’re gone, especially financially.

One of the most important and personal decisions you’ll have to make is whether to opt for cremation or a burial. Traditionally, being buried was the preferred option, but since 2015 the rate of cremation has been higher than burials.

In fact, the National Funeral Directors Association estimates that cremations now account for more than 70% of funerals in Australian metropolitan areas. People are choosing this option for financial, practical and environmental concerns, as well as there being fewer religious prohibitions.

The average cost of cremation and burial

The funeral process can be costly. In Australia, the average cost of a traditional burial is about $19,000, while the average cost to be cremated is $7,420. While there are cheaper options available, the funeral process is often expensive either way.

To determine what the cost of your funeral could be, check out our funeral cost calculator.

Cremation vs burial – the process

You may already be familiar with a traditional burial. This involves the deceased being prepared, dressed, and then placed in a sealed casket before being buried. However, the cremation process is not as widely known.

An overview of cremation

Often with cremations there is a funeral service, as there is with burials. As a next step, staff will then verify the identity of the deceased and complete the necessary paperwork before the cremation process begins.

Following cremation, the remains are removed from the coffin and put into the vessel of the family’s choosing. The entire process takes about four hours. Depending on a person’s wishes, ashes can either be scattered or a portion can also be permanently held somewhere for future generations to visit.

Religious consideration

The decision to be buried or cremated can also be impacted by an individual’s religious or cultural beliefs. Cremation may not be permitted by some religions, and this will guide the final decision. You may need to speak to your religious cleric or leader before deciding what to do.

Environmental factors

If you are environmentally conscious and want to reduce your carbon footprint, a study of funeral services has revealed cremations are more environmentally friendly than burials. This is because maintaining a gravesite long-term generates more carbon dioxide.

Interestingly, there are now ‘green’ funeral options, which are funerals that aim to make as little impact upon the environment as possible. During a ‘green’ funeral, bodies are interred in a designated ‘green’ burial site – often without embalming – and in a 100% natural and biodegradable shroud or coffin. A person can also opt for no headstone or a green headstone which is often an engraved stone, tree or flowers.

Practicalities

There are other practical considerations such as families who live long distances apart or in other countries. If a person is cremated, transporting their remains is often simpler and more cost-effective, so this is also something you may need to consider before making a decision.

Alternatively, if someone chooses to be buried after a funeral then friends and family will have a permanent place to visit and remember them. However, if a person is cremated they can ask to have their remains scattered at a place of significance to them.

Emotional considerations

When deciding how you want to be commemorated, your decision is likely to be based on a variety of factors including your personal beliefs, the legacy you want to leave, and consideration for your family. No one can make this choice for you, but once you have decided on your commemoration wishes, it’s wise to inform your loved ones of your wishes and also write them down.

Ensuring your wishes are respected will be at the fore of your family’s mind after your passing, so also include any specific directions in your will.

Help for Australians

At Australian Seniors, we understand it may be confronting to plan for your passing. That’s why we offer funeral insurance to help reduce financial stress on your family. For more information, call us on 1300 078 596 or request a call-back to learn about how our funeral insurance premiums reduce as you age.