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Readers Respond: Should Open Air Cremation be an Option in America?

Responses: 15

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Cremation facilities in the USA involve a closed incinerator. A coffin with the deceased is guided into the incinerator on a steel track. A window may be available for viewing. Loved ones later receive packaged ashes.

In countries like India, open air cremation is common. The deceased is placed atop a funeral bier, usually adjacent to moving water, in full view of loved ones. Ashes may be disposed of immediately following cremation.

In the UK open air cremation facilities have been denied.

Is open air cremation a service you would like to see offered in the US? Should open air cremation be an option in America?

Share Your Thoughts

Legal open air cremations in Crestone CO

Crestone-End-Of-Life-Project in Colorado has performed 32 open air cremations in the last 7 years. It does not take a few days to burn a body but 4 hours. All that is left is ash and a few bone fragments. Our pyre was approved by the EPA and does not pose a health risk. However, there is some air pollution involved, the same way a wood stove produces air pollution. It is a fine option for a smaller community like Crestone, but I would not recommend it for a high density area. This beautiful and profound ceremony crosses the beliefs of religion, as we have served all the worlds major religion - including Sikh - through open air cremation.
—Guest Anna Louise Stewart

Open Air Cremation in Arizona

I became so inspired by this idea I built my own pyre. Sikh's, Hindu's and anyone else who wants a more natural disposition deserves a choice. I wish to work within the laws and provide a beautiful and safe ceremony. Bodies aren't toxic and thankfully we have the technology to preserve bodies until weather conditions are ideal for a fire. A modern pyre structure should consume the body in less than eight hours. It's not a matter of "if" but "when."
—Guest HigherPyre

Yes to Open Air Cremation in the USA

There should be NO laws restricting what someone does with the dead if it does not create a public health hazard. Hindus and I believe Sikhs as well believe this is the best way to give someone a send off, and I see no reason to deny them this. It is part of their religious beliefs and I believe protected by the constitution. As I said, as long as it is not creating a public health problem, go for it.
—Guest Lynn Magnuson

Verses of Gurbani May Provide Comfort

It's difficult when you are so far away, hopefully your family will understand if you cannot travel such a great distance. I imagine losing a parent makes your relationship that much more valuable. One of the most difficult things about losing a loved one is not being able to communicate with them anymore. When bereaved everything can seem overwhelming for a while and a great many questions surface about life and death. Verses of Gurbani can help to provide comfort. Perhaps you can include some of these in your communications.
—S_Khalsa

Proper condolences to the family

My son-in-laws Father passes away in Malaysia and we could not make the ceremony. What is appropriate that I can do to express my deep regrets and sorrow to the family? Please answer quickly so I will not appear I am indifferent. Thank you, Jill
—Guest Jill Trachtenberg

open air cremation is a yes

I think that if people believe in doing, what they want to do with the people that they love and care about then that's their decision. Why should they be told that they can't cremate their loved one the way that the deceased wanted.
—Guest shamia123guest

Louanne

Open air cremation takes a few days to burn the body. It isn't hot enough and the body needs to be repositioned to enhance burning evenly. It requires someone to stay with it until it is burned. I inquired about this already 15 years ago.
—Guest Louanne

Yes, allow it!

I'm not of Hindu faith, but for most of my life I've felt that an open-air cremation is the way I wish to leave this world. I don't want to be buried in a coffin and I certainly dislike the idea of my body going into a enclosed oven to be burnt (I can only hope I won't feel claustrophobic after death). An open-air funeral meets my view of allowing my remains and any spirit I may have to return to nature. In regard to the pollution question, the challenge in the UK to the restriction on open funeral pyres raised the point that during the last foot-and-mouth disease outbreak tens of thousands of cattle were burnt outside and the government stated this caused no biological or pollutant problems. Why wouldn't the existing funeral service companies be willing to operate another funeral method if guidleines and standards were approved.
—Guest Martin B

yes, of course

I feel they should be allowed. I had no idea they were denied in the UK? If it is part of a religious belief then yes and I agree with other answers that the pollution factors should be addressed but I can't imagine that is too difficult to achieve.
—ElaineLemm

Surprised

It actually surprises me that there isn't some sort of exception to the prohibition on open-air cremations for religious ceremonies. If done in accordance with reasonable regulations (fire safety, health, etc.) I can't imagine why this shouldn't be allowed.
—Charlie_Zegers

Presentation of Facts

Open-air cremation may not have any adverse effects to people, animals, and plants in the vicinity, but I don't know. Personally, knowing how fire works, I would be concerned that bacteria and viruses could be borne up and away on the rising hot air before the fire itself has a chance to consume them. I would suggest that if open-air cremation is much preferred, that a petition to change the laws (local ordinances, or state?) be begun, with a fully detailed, objective, and scientific report (study) of how an open-air cremation impacts the environment, including people and animals, in the surrounding location. It may just be a personal quirk, nut I hate rushing into any big decision without weighing as many facts from all sides as I can get my hands on. :)
—BethPete

Pollution

I don't see any health issues, I also wondered about the question of air pollution. There's bound to be a good deal of particulate matter in such a cremation.
—Guest Kevin

Open Air Cremation - Why not?

I would have no problem with open-air cremations if they were done in a designated area far from major population centers. I can't see that public health or public safety would be compromised as long as good sense is used.
—SusanAdcox

Open Air Cremation

I think it should be allowed as long as it can be handled in a manner that does not threaten public health. Some people are very skeptical about cremation due to their religious beliefs while as we see here, others practice it as part of their religious beliefs.
—Guest Lily

Open Air Cremation? Maybe

Is there a pollution issue? If not, I say they should be offered in the United States.
—Barb.Rolek

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Should Open Air Cremation be an Option in America?

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