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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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To bury, or not to bury ...

Some folks create documentaries about their lives to be shown at their funeral; others may have secured a mariachi band for the lunch that follows their memorial service. But among the most changing practices related to death is what’s done with the body.

When this photo was taken in 1978,
When this photo was taken in 1978, only 8 percent of U.S. dead were cremated, said the Cremation Association of North America. Now the rate is 31 percent.
For instance, burial in the church cemetery is increasingly rare. Transient Americans often have no hometown that holds meaning as a final resting place. And those concerned about the environment and unwieldy funeral expenses are opting for cremation or a “green” burial.

“Indeed, in 2006, the year that the oldest members of American’s baby-boom generation turn 60, the after-death options being chosen by those who have lost a loved one or are planning for their own deaths have vastly changed,” according to a Chicago Tribune article (Jan. 9, 2006).


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