What is the History of Cremation?
The final disposition of the deceased depends on personal preferences as well as cultural and religious beliefs. Cremations as a method of the disposal of a body dates back to 42,000 years ago according to archaeological studies. However, in many parts of Europe the process was forbidden by law, punishable by death or even used by some religious authorities as a punishment for heretics. Advocating for cremation began in the Europe in the mid 1600's and the first official recorded European to be cremated was not until 1769, although it was an illegal cremation. In 1874, the Cremation Society of Great Britain was founded for the purpose of disseminating information on the process and adopting the best methods to perform cremations. As a result of a legal case in 1884, which stated that although the law did not state that cremation was legal, it also did not state that it was illegal, the first official cremation in Great Britain was performed in 1885. This preceded the Cremation Act of 1902 which allowed cremation in Great Britain in authorized places only. The process was infrequently used in the United States as well until the early 1900s. Today, the cremation rate is nearly 40 percent in the United States and more and more people are opting for cremation as part of their funeral services. We will address some of the reasons people choose cremation over traditional burial in future blogs.
Parable on Immortality
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There she goes."
Gone where? Gone from my sight...that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says "There she goes," there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes."
Henry Van Dyke.