Why do we cling to urns of ashes that contain the final remains of ones we love?
Throughout America, all that is left of millions of living beings that have passed on, through the doors of death, are their cremated remains, stored in urns on bookshelves, in cabinets and closets and storage areas.
Why are they still here? Why the delay?
Many times it simply wasn’t clear to the heirs or survivors that they would be given permanent possession of the remains after cremation. Death is often a confusing time. Perhaps money was an issue, and direct cremation, where the body is immediately cremated, is usually the lowest cost alternative. But then the remains – remain.
Over half of all deaths now are cremated in the USA. “Scattering ashes” is the popular term given for throwing cremated remains on the ground or in the water, perhaps in some out-of-the-way public place, often somewhat surreptitiously. About a third of human cremated remains (and nearly all animal remains) now are disposed of in this way. This modern custom is decended from an older practice of spreading the ashes of particularly heinous criminals after they were hanged, denying them a grave and memorial as a final insult. Now, primarily because it is free and usually is not very illegal to do so, that is what becomes of about a third of our cremated remains. Exact locations are usually not recorded, often there is no ceremony, and there are no memorials or signs to indicate to others that they may be treading on human remains.
Another third of America’s cremated remains are buried in public and private cemeteries, often accompanied by traditional funerals. These buried remains are usually firmly sealed in ceramic or metal containers, urns, which are themselves usually surrounded by sealed and buried reinforced concrete vaults. Not much chance there of returning to nature…
The other third of the one and a half million cremations that occur in the US each year are - waiting. They are waiting for someone to remember them. They are waiting for someone to respectfully return their final remains to the earth. They are waiting for someone to take the five pounds or so of crushed, charred bones that represent a living, breathing, dynamic life that is now departed, and return them to nature. They are waiting for someone to allow them – each with their unique combination of dry calcium phosphates and carbonates, mixed with a few minerals - to be broken down in the soil. The willing workers of the earth, the microbes and mycelium in fertile soil, and the natural weathering and leaching process that occurs with water and oxygen and when freezing and thawing take place, naturally convert these remaining bits of matter into nutrients for plants. The plants in turn become nutrients for animals, or make organic additions to the rich natural soil, which supports microscopic life in a complex web of interactions that we call nature.
This return to nature is our destiny. Throughout human history we have returned our dead to the cycle of life by respectfully burying them in not-too-deep graves, often marking their burial and the passing of their life with a memorial symbol of some kind.
Now, for the first time, there is a simple service to allow us to easily and simply return our hoarded cremated remains to the earth, from which we all come. Infinity Cemetery LLC provides Green Burial Services for anyone, anywhere - here or abroad - as an ethical alternative to scattering ashes. Our natural, dignified and quality final resting place for cremated remains is easily purchased online and includes the opportunity for real-time online visitation of the actual Green Burial Space and instant access to the optional accompanying Virtual Memorial Page, all easily accomplished from any computer, tablet or phone. Go to infintycemetery.com and allow us to help your loved one finally rest in peace.