“Is Burial or Cremation best?”

Is Burial or Cremation best?

H:….  Is it best to be buried or cremated?

Chinaman:….  For a moment consider the tremendous spectrum of custom down through the ages and across the differing societies in this matter. There are so many ways that people dispose of their dead! But I suppose the single principle behind that spectrum of custom is the principle of respect. We choose the manner of disposal that is the most respectful to our way of thinking. After the body has decomposed it may be a different matter as to how we think of the deceased, but while they are recognisable in some form as the person who has been alive then they are usually treated with respect.

The disposal of a body is also a focus for grief of that person, and that is a positive thing. The thoughts and prayers help the person who has gone on. But if those who grieve cannot let go of that loved one, if they choose burial rather than cremation, let’s say, because there is more of a focus at a burial service and afterwards, more physical remnants there, then through their yearning they can actually hinder the person who has gone on. The constant reaching out inhibits the person; they cannot go on but are held back.

It is even worse when some people create a room that is a shrine to the deceased, or where there has been an accident, say, and flowers are put at the roadside – sometimes for several years to come. Then it is not a matter of burial or of cremation for either is irrelevant as there is that not letting go at all.

It is an attitude within grief, mourning and love to let them go – after due time. So whatever means of disposal of the body that is provided in whatever society the people live, as long as it does right by the person who has gone on, there is no preference as to which means is used as it will not affect the deceased – only the mourners attitude does that. The spirit has left the body, so it does not matter to the one who has gone on as to what happens to the physical remains. They can disintegrate in a sudden explosion or decay over time or be mummified and stay there for thousands of years. It does not matter. Unfortunately there is the situation where a body is not recovered or found where those who mourn have the extra burden and heartache of not knowing what happened to their loved one. It is not the actual body that can cause the problem but the people who are left. They have no focus for their grief, and need a symbolic focus of some kind to help.

S:…. I thought flowers were a positive thing to lie at the scene of an accident. Do they not help heal the place?

Chinaman:…. Flowers do indeed have a beneficial influence effect upon us all. They are given to those who are in need of cheering up, they are given to those who are sick, and they are given to help the energy of a place. But when the flowers are used repeatedly to remember an accident or incident then they are being misused. They might still have that positive influence in the immediate area but there is the overall effect of the shrine room and each time they are seen their meaning is changed. They become the focus to hold the loved one back rather than be a means of remembering with thanksgiving and letting the deceased go on.

S:…. What of the Cenotaph or War Memorials?

Chinaman:…. This is not the same. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Poppy Day is more a matter of honour and remembering what these people gave and did for others rather than a holding back of a loved one. Usually there is not the same degree of personal attachment and so holding back. It is a positive thing.

So burial or cremation – or any other means – is immaterial if respect is held. The attitude of the mourners is far more important.