Burial or Cremation? ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 249

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.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

10 thoughts on “Burial or Cremation? ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 249”

  1. My parents opted for cremation. There is something beautiful about it and I personally found it less distressing than burial as was the case for my baby brother. I have advised my children that cremation is the way I will go too – provided they scatter me someplace beautiful and sunny afterwards!

    1. Hi SV, thanks for writing. Like you, I found it less distresssing than burial. However, I think place where ashes are scattered, or indeed buried, is very fundamental. I’m surprised that the overall rate in Ireland, as a whole, is only 11%. I wonder if this is to do with tradition or the fact that cremation is viewed by some as the ‘poor relation’ to burial.

  2. I have decided that I will be cremated in a cardboard coffin – such a waste of good wood! I keep intending to write down how I want to be sent off – I will do it soon! I want my ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean off Inishbofin Island where the wind blows strong and the sea is green and deep!

    1. Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more. And Jennifer Muldowney’s book is excellent in terms of providing guidelines about very modern things, as well, like ‘online legacies’ that our ancestors didn’t have to think about.

  3. I must agree about stating a preference in a will – it’s one less thing for the family to worry and potentially disagree over.
    I was once involved with a file of a Jewish woman who died almost penniless – her will demanded that she was to be buried in Israel. It didn’t happen.

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