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Burial or Cremation: Which to Choose?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Although cremation has been increasing in popularity in Québec for the last three decades, it has declined slightly in the past few years. Today, about three quarters of Québec residents choose cremation while one quarter choose burial. It’s a choice that’s not always easy to make, especially when you have to make the decision for a loved one.

Choosing burial

We don’t all feel the same about what we want to happen to our bodies or those of our loved ones after death. Choosing between burial and cremation depends on very personal assessments that may be linked to religion or an aversion to fire or, on the other hand, the impossibility of imagining a casket placed in a vault.

  • The position of the Church

Even though the Church recognizes cremation, Christians generally favour burial, which is a way of demonstrating their faith in the body created by God and restoring it to earth.

  • The grieving process

Other people choose burial because it allows the grieving process to occur, which they consider impossible with cremation. Burial also has the advantage of sidestepping the problem of what to do with the ashes, on which loved ones may not agree.

Choosing cremation

Choosing cremation is generally easier for others than for yourself. This is certainly due to the fact that we don’t want to burden our families with our own bodies, but that it’s difficult, on the other hand, to destroy those of our loved ones.

  • The destination of the ashes

It’s important to fully consider what to do with the ashes, and it’s with this in mind that crematoriums offer the ability to temporarily store them to give families the time to carefully make their decision. In Québec, it’s possible to store the ashes at home, but it can be problematic to mourn and deprive friends or strangers of loved ones from having a place to gather. Another solution involves scattering the ashes, but this choice may also constitute an obstacle to the grieving process and recollection. Burying the urn in a corner of the family property may also pose a problem in case of sale. You can also choose to store the ashes in a niche in a columbarium or in the cemetery so you can have a place of contemplation accessible to everyone.

The importance of religious rites

Whichever option is chosen, it’s essential to observe funeral rituals, which are essential to the grieving process.


Unfortunately, this isn’t always respected: while we used to take two or three days to prepare a funeral, today, they take place on one day, a Saturday, to prevent people from having to take a day off. Yet trying to speed the funeral along, as some people in mourning do, believing that it will shorten their grief, is unhelpful.


It’s precisely funeral rites, such as ceremonies in honour of the departed, that allow loved ones to come together and take the time to commemorate the memory of the deceased and give shape to the emotiveness linked to mourning.


Even if they don’t find meaning in the death of the deceased, the act of seeking it out will help them get on with their lives.

Nobody wants to think about their death or their funeral. However, to prevent your family from tearing themselves apart over what to do with your body, it’s preferable to leave a written record behind, draw up a funeral contract, or simply make your wishes explicitly known. This will save your loved ones, who are already drowning in grief, from having to make a difficult decision and ensure that your wishes are respected.