Ranting, Rambling and Reminiscing - Burial? or Cremation?

This past weekend I went to a family gathering celebrating a graduation. The subject came up how a few cousins were meeting to spread the ashes of a loved one who died and was then cremated. Lately I've been contemplating how differently wakes, funerals and such have changed in our society.

In my child and young adulthood I remember first getting a telephone call from a friend or family member that so and so had "passed away". You sent flowers. A three day wake was expected where anybody and everybody may have showed up. On the fourth day in the morning was the funeral, solemn and long, with lots of Bible verses and old tyme hymns. Close friends and family of course were there, after which they followed in the long stream of stickered and flagged cars to the graveyard. A graveside service took place with immediate family in a long row of chairs facing the open grave with the coffin above the open grave ready to be cranked in. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" as a handful of dirt was thrown in after the lowering of the coffin. Close family/friends of the bereaved then gathered at their home, arriving with a baked ham or casserole in hand.

I am now 64 years old and find myself going to far more funerals than weddings and baby showers these days. I cannot speak for other parts of the country or for those who traditions/ religions are different from mine but wow...things have changed.  In the last two years I have been to five funerals, one sadly enough was for a child.  I have noticed there is seldom more than a one day wake. Funerals are often "private", which may mean there is only a family get together no traditional "funeral". Perhaps at the end of the one day wake there is a generally brief "memorial service". I have not for a few years been to a graveside service at all. In fact only one of my deceased friends was buried. The others were cremated. One's ashes were buried at a family gravesite, the others, I don't know, maybe scattered to nature in some spot that had been favored by the deceased. The
reports that cremations have doubled since 1999 and about half of those who die in this country are now cremated. The statistics differ significantly in different parts of the country which is no surprise.

I really am not making any judgement here because I am not sure myself what I would choose, although if I am gone obviously the choice is not mine. Actually I like the fact that things are not quite so serious and solemn. I like seeing photos and reminiscing as opposed to wearing black and "wailing and gnashing of teeth". My own faith has no problem with cremation either, though I understand some Christians do. I believe my soul is safe in the arms of God and surely at the resurrection HE doesn't need a carved rock to find my mortal body.

As a genealogist and family historian, I hope this does not sound ghoulish but, I like the concept of being able to visit or at least have a photo of a family member's last resting place on this earth. A place to go to contemplate the life of this family member, long gone. A family member unknown to me as I was unknown to them, but now I discover them, and wonder about their part in making me who I am today.

Well, enough musings on a Monday. I hope I have not bummed anyone. Here are a few photos I have and treasure. A poem too, that I have always liked.  I think I will grab my hubby and head to Sonic for a chocolate shake. They are half price after 8 pm you know.

**click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing**