William Gladstone has been quoted as saying, “Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the law of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”
It has recently been reported that the cremation rate in British Columbia is at 89-92 per cent of all deaths registered within the province compared to P.E.I.’s eight per cent.
This might sound like a high number, yet when we take into consideration the number of cultures now residing in B.C. and their cultural rituals regarding burial or cremation as final dispositions, this becomes as rational as the in-ground burials did prior to the late 1960s when crematoriums began functioning in B.C.
In comparison, Japan cremated 99.85 per cent in 2008, 72 per cent in the UK and, in the United States, the cremation rate goes from six per cent to 68 per cent depending on location.
Italy and Poland, being traditional countries, record cremations at less than six per cent of all deaths, with Poland citing that cremation reminds them too much of the Holocaust.
In India, based on UN data, 84 per cent of the estimated population believe their dead must be cremated as a religious rite of passage.
In Canada, as thinking patterns change with either technology or humanitarian advances, there has been a change from the old norm of in-ground burial cemeteries to the adoption of beautiful cremation parks, with flowering bushes, covered bench areas and pathways around above-ground columbarium, and special memorial spots — some dedicated to entire families.
These park-like cemeteries for cremated remains are becoming more popular as the shift towards cremation is becoming popular. Churches that once frowned upon the thought of cremation are now permitting it as long as the cremated remains are inurned in the ground or in a columbarium niche while others like the idea of being able to scatter their loved one’s cremains in a specially designed area within the cremation park. People are creating special memories in new and unique ways and funeral homes and cemeteries today are hopefully adapting to these changes.
Ron Malmas is the manager and funeral director/embalmer Compassionate Care Funeral Home. If you have any questions for a future column, contact him at 250-392-3336.