Understanding Cremations

Although many Australians choose to respect the wishes of their loved one(s) when planning a funeral, a variety of other factors come into the equation. For some reasons, such as costs or planning purposes, many end up favouring a cremation as opposed to a traditional burial. With that said, certain religious groups directly oppose the concepts of cremation and either discourage or forbid their followers from this option.


What does a cremation involve?

Cremations have become the leading way for Australians to farewell a loved one, with more than half of all services done in such a manner. As there is no need for a burial plot, and coffins or caskets are not required after the funeral service, cremation is a more affordable option compared with burial, even if a funeral director intends to charge the same fee for their part managing each service.

If you intend to proceed with a cremation, you should notify your funeral director at first instance so that necessary preparation can commence. Because they will engage a crematorium, which itself will have limited availability to perform cremations, the earlier you can provide notice the better.

Crematoriums are also available to hold the funeral service, or variations thereof. This may include a committal service. When the committal takes place at the end of the service, the coffin will typically be hidden from the view of mourners, allowing those in attendance to leave personal items or gifts of sympathy in private. Some religious traditions or cultures may be more receptive to viewing the cremation, so your needs should be discussed with the crematorium via the funeral director.


After the cremation

One of the more sentimental aspects of cremation is the treatment of the ashes, with various options available to bereaved family members. Most people are familiar with scattering of the ashes, however, some of the legal complications are often misunderstood.

For example, a landowner’s permission is required when scattering ashes on private land – and such permission is not perpetual, given land ownership can be transferred. While you don’t need permission for public land, you should be cognisant as to how that space is used by others. The same consideration applies for mourners who opt to spread ashes over a body of water, such as a lake or river, where other people may be utilising said water.

Crematoriums also offer mourners the option to scatter or bury ashes at their site in a specific garden area, also known as a Garden of Remembrance. Like public places however, you cannot limit who else may have access to such land, which is important if you intend to regularly visit the site for solemn reflection. If you’d like to store ashes at the burial site of another family member, this can often be arranged, albeit with permission and additional costs if being buried.

Finally, mourners also have the option to keep their loved one’s ashes in a decorative urn, which they may store with them at home. Some other emerging options involve the ashes being crafted into jewellery or glass, serving as a personal keepsake for bereaved family members.

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