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Ancient Practice of Cremation Undergoes a Modern Revival

DEAR ABBY: I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend after a funeral. It was about cremation versus burial, and I'd be interested in your thoughts and those of your readers.

We noted that cremation has become more common, and guessed that one of the main reasons might be funeral and plot costs. After thinking about it, we thought there might be other considerations propelling people toward the practice of cremation.

In modern society, individuals and families seem less tied to one area, and also, larger communities make it more difficult to make trips to cemeteries. Any insight on this trend? -- PLOTTING AND PLANNING IN ARIZONA

DEAR PLOTTING AND PLANNING: Cremation is nothing new. It has been practiced since ancient times -- 5,000 years ago and possibly even longer than that. The early Romans did it, but with the rise of Christianity it fell out of favor. (It is accepted by the Christian religion today.) Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs commonly cremate their deceased. However, it is opposed by traditional Jewish culture, which believes our bodies belong to God and we are not supposed to actively destroy God's property, and by the Muslim religion.

You and your friend have covered the major considerations that make people choose cremation instead of burial. I would only add that in the past, I have heard from readers who could not bear to part with the remains of their loved one, and who have kept the ashes in their home. Others would like to have their own ashes co-mingled with their loved one's at the appropriate time and placed in a columbarium. However, if readers have anything they would like to add, I'll share some of their input with you.

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