In recent years, we have seen a surge in preference for cremation. More families than ever in Massachusetts and around the country are choosing this method of disposition for themselves and their loved ones. It’s easy to understand why. Cremation services offer families a simplified yet dignified way to say goodbye. Because cremation services represent a shift away from traditional burial services, it’s easy to assume that cremation must be a new trend, and a way that funeral services have changed in recent years.
The truth is cremation has always been a part of our community. In the late 1800s, Bostonians faced many challenges surrounding health, hygiene, and changing social practices that had some people reconsidering the long-held practice of burial. As a historical document, this is a fascinating look at how some of our funeral practices have changed, while others remain the same, even 130 years later.
Cremation Services Have Always Been a Sacred Ritual
Humans around the world have practiced cremation in one way or another for thousands of years. Scientists agree that humans have been cremating their dead as early as 3000 BCE. Ancient Romans and Egyptians not only practiced cremation, they cherished ashes in the same way we do today. Some Romans scattered their loved one’s cremated remains, while others kept their ashes in their homes.
However, there were certain barriers to the acceptance of cremation in late 19th century New England. Long-held funeral traditions and religious objections to the practice of cremation had many questioning whether cremation was a suitable method of handling a loved one’s remains. Understandably, a ‘new’ and unfamiliar way of taking care of such a sacrosanct event was met with caution and skepticism, a fear that arose from reverence and love for the departed.
Some Things Haven’t Changed.
In the late 19th century, the people of New England shared many of the same obstacles and concerns that we do today. Back then, burial could be too expensive for some families. As a result, some families were unable to hold funeral services for their loved ones, who were then given pauper’s burials.
In the past, the lower price of cremation versus traditional burial could afford these families the dignity of proper funeral services. Today, families find a similar benefit to cremation, as it is still a lower-cost option than burial. However, a funeral can be as simple or as extravagant as a family wants. The total price of a funeral or memorial service today ultimately depends on what kind and size of services a family has and the details each entail, as well as the particular merchandise and flower arrangements they choose to purchase.
As a family-owned funeral home that has opened its doors to the communities of South Shore and Cape Cod since 1862, we’ve witnessed as more and more families consider cremation. Then, just as now, our primary concern was to provide the best care for families during some of their worst days and inform families about all the possible ways to honor and lay their loved ones to rest. Today, we are proud to help our communities of Massachusetts choose the best option for their own loved ones. If you have any questions about our cremation and funeral services, please reach out at any time.