Cremation more popular, death remains complicated


Cremation is more popular than ever before. In 1980, rates in the United States were below 10%, and the National Funeral Director’s Association projects rates will reach 70% in 2030. People chose cremation over burial in a quarter of all deaths in 2000, but has since risen to almost 49 percent in 2015. 

That means more people are faced with the legal challenges that arise when scattering remains. As popular as scattering ashes at sea is, the Environmental Protection Agency prohibits boats and planes from doing so within three nautical miles of shore. National Parks require a permit and permission from the chief park ranger, and the Federal Aviation Administration has restrictions to be sure the remains aren’t scattered over people. Sports arenas and Disneyland are also popular locations for unauthorized scattering, but require permission to be legally sound.

The Vatican issued new guidelines this year, recommending that cremated remains be buried in cemeteries rather than scattered in the air, on land, at sea, or stored in the home. More and more cemeteries are creating space for urns to be buried or placed in a wall. 

There are also more people thinking creatively about the idea. In Takoma Park, Maryland, residents are attempting America’s first ever municipal “scatter garden” where locals can have their ashes scattered over a patch of municipal commons. The carbon of ashes can even be made into an eco-friendly diamond, an ash/ ink mixture used for a tattoo, vinyl records, fireworks, coral reefs, and because it is America...ammunition.

Death used to be so much simpler. 

Watch the video to see what happened when a veteran’s remains were dropped off on a doorstep.



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