I have dithered for a long time about writing this post as I know that, for some people, it relates to a very sensitive topic and one which they may not even wish to think about. On the other hand, I also know from personal experience that many people, in Ireland especially, have little or no knowledge about cremation and would like to know more.
Cremation seems to be the absolute norm in our extended family but it would seem that we are in the minority. Jennifer Muldowney (2013) in her excellent book Say Farewell Your Way: A Funeral Planning Guide for Ireland (Oak Tree Press: Cork) says that over 11% of deaths in Ireland now involve cremation with the figure for Dublin at approximately 30%.
My awareness of cremation began many years ago when my mother made it clear that she wanted to be cremated. This was something that she talked about very openly and I have to say it was very calming to know her wishes and to be able to fulfill them for her. The whole process, while obviously very sad, was beautiful in a sense which I had not quite expected.
In overall terms, I think it makes a huge difference to grieving families and friends if they know the wishes of their loved ones about issues such as burial vs cremation and it saves a huge amount of second-guessing at a time when minds and hearts are not necessarily in good shape for that.