cremation services offered in Burtonsville, MD

The Fall and Rise of Cremations

Cremation is one of cremation services offered in Burtonsville, MD. in the ancient world, except for Egypt (where the deceased were embalmed and entombed), China (where the dead were buried in the ground), and Judea (where the deceased were buried in sepulchers), cremation was extensively used for funerals.

The primary reasons that cremation were used included making sure that the body wasn’t desecrated by animals or other humans – ground burial consisted of digging a shallow hole, putting the body directly in the hole, and covering it with dirt – and to prevent the spread of highly-infectious diseases like bubonic plague. In times of war, cremation enabled armies to take their fallen soldiers home for proper funeral rites.

The Roman Empire used cremation exclusively until the end of the fourth century. As Christianity was adopted by the Empire, earth burials became more common. This was, in part, because cremations were associated with pagan rituals. It was also because of the belief that the body could not be resurrected if it was cremated, as if God somehow, despite creating the entire universe from nothing, didn’t have power to resurrect someone who’d been cremated.

Cremation came back onto the scene in the middle 1800s. This was because physicians realized that diseases could be spread by bodies just buried in the ground, while cremation ensured that any potential spreading of diseases was eliminated.

In England, Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, endorsed cremation as a sanitary means of disposing the bodies of people who had died. With acceptance in the highest levels of English society, the Cremation Society of England was formed in 1874. The first crematorium in England was finished in 1879. However, it was not used until 1885, when the English courts finally made cremation legal. Despite the fact that cremation was now legal in Great Britain, only three cremations were done in 1885.

In America, the first crematorium was also built in the middle of the 19th century. Americans were skeptical about cremation, considering it a radical idea. Like England, cremation came to America because of the fear of desecration of bodies and of the spread of highly contagious diseases. Even in the middle 1800s, many bodies were buried without caskets, so the concerns about desecration and the spread of disease were valid.

Advocates of cremation in America also saw the practice as a solution to burgeoning cities running out of cemetery space. Cemeteries in America were originally located miles from populated areas. This was in an effort to contain the spread of diseases and to keep water sources pure from decomposing bodies.

As the country grew, bigger cities spread outward until cemeteries were right across the street or next door to business and residential structures. Cremation advocates suggested that making cemeteries smaller and putting more distance between the living and the dead could free up prime real estate for more growth and keep the public health safe.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century, though, that cremations were done more regularly in the United States. Still most Americans chose ground burial over cremation. Even though cremations were done more often, they still had a stigma attached to them. Additionally, because most cremations were direct, without any kind of service to honor the dead and to comfort the family, the grieving family and other mourners didn’t get to participate in traditional funeral rituals.

If you want more information about the cremation services offered in Burtonsville, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can drop by our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.