Cremation or Traditional Burial?

A final remembrance is a very personal choice. Whether you choose a traditional burial or cremation, caring Dignity Memorial® professionals will help you create a personalized, meaningful funeral or memorial service to bring comfort to friends and family. When making this choice for yourself or a loved one, there are several factors to consider. Religious customs, family traditions, personal budget, final wishes and pre-planned arrangements are all things to keep in mind.

Our compassionate associates can help with the details and decisions. We’ll guide you through every step of the process when thinking about burial vs. cremation, helping you make the best decisions for yourself, your loved one and your family.

Factors to consider when choosing burial vs. cremation

Whether or not you choose cremation, it's important to remember that holding a funeral or memorial service is an important opportunity to celebrate a special life and provide a sense of comfort and closure to friends and family members. As with a traditional burial, cremation funeral services can include a visitation with a viewing and a service at the funeral home, church or other location, and a graveside service. Dignity Memorial professionals can help you create a ceremony that honors your family’s traditions and preferences. But how do you know what choice is right for you?

Religious considerations

Religious beliefs and traditions are important to many people. When deciding on traditional burial or cremation, consider these guiding principles:

  • Catholicism. The Catholic Church instructs that the deceased be laid to rest in a cemetery. If cremation is selected, remains are to be buried or placed into a mausoleum or columbarium, rather than scattered or kept at home. In some areas, the Catholic Church provides cemetery gardens or mausoleums that have been consecrated and are considered sacred ground.
  • Protestantism. Just as Protestants have many funeral service options, they also have many choices for final disposition. The deceased may be interred in the ground or entombed in a mausoleum. Cremated remains may be scattered, buried in a cemetery or placed in a church columbarium.
  • Greek Orthodoxy. The Greek Orthodox Church considers cremation a desecration of the body. The deceased must be buried in the ground; embalming is a common practice. Organ donations and autopsies are allowed.
  • Judaism. The Jewish faith prioritizes returning the full body to earth promptly. Although cremation is contrary to Jewish tradition, contemporary Jewish families are becoming more open to the practice. Traditional Jewish funeral tradition calls for a simple wood casket, sometimes with holes in the bottom. If a vault is used, it may have holes in the bottom or no bottom at all (depending on cemetery regulations and community customs).
  • Islamism. Islamic law is very specific about the way a member of the Muslim faith is to be prepared for burial, beginning with a ritual washing. Muslims do not practice cremation, and Islamic law is very specific in its directions for burial. Muslims are to be buried in a Muslim cemetery or in a special Muslim section of a community cemetery.
  • Buddhism. Buddhists often choose cremation, although some families select full-body burial.
  • Hinduism. Hindus believe that cremation liberates the soul of the deceased, who may linger if the physical body remains. The sooner the body is cremated (often within 24 hours of death), the sooner the person can begin his or her next journey.

Cemetery property and other costs

The cost of a funeral or a memorial service is a consideration for most people. The cost of a cremation or burial is influenced by the choices made by families, including the type of service and choice of cemetery property and merchandise.

Type of funeral service. Choosing a burial or cremation doesn’t limit the type of service that comes before or after. Whether a simple committal service or an more elaborate life celebration including a catered reception, an event can be customized to honor a special life and fit any budget.

Lasting remembrance. Choosing cemetery property provides an important and lasting place for friends, family and future generations to reflect and remember. Most people are familiar with the choices surrounding traditional burial, but those families choosing cremation also have a myriad of cemetery options for remembrance. These include ground burial, urn niches in a mausoleum or columbarium, and options within special cremation garden areas. Beautiful permanent remembrance options for cremation also include benches, pedestals, family estates and even custom-built memorials.

Let our Dignity Memorial providers assist you in navigating the funeral and cemetery planning process. Whether your family chooses traditional burial or cremation, we'll help you find a solution to meet your needs.

A large oak tree shades a community garden with assorted upright granite headstones at Forest Park Lawndale.

Plan a burial or cremation ahead of time

Did your loved one record what he or she wanted for a funeral or memorial? Be sure to follow your loved one’s wishes if he or she took the time to let you know the best way to honor his or her life. When you plan in advance, your family won’t have to wonder if you’d have preferred a traditional burial or a cremation, or a simple service or more elaborate celebration of life. A Dignity Memorial associate can walk you through the details of traditional burial or cremation and help you decide what best suits you. That way, when the time comes, family and friends can focus on what is really important—remembering you.


Plan a memorable cremation funeral

Planning a personalized cremation funeral or memorial is an event unlike any other. We created a guide to help you understand all of your cremation options and how to plan a truly memorable event. Understanding Cremation—A Complete Guide is free, and it will help you start planning today. Then, when you are ready, a Dignity Memorial provider will be there to walk you through every step of the cremation process.