In some cultures, like that of Hindu India, cremation is the traditional method of ending a funeral service. In other cultures, cremation is a choice. It has become increasingly popular in many countries and in China almost half of all funerals end in this way. But China offers something you don't find in many other places: the chance to experience cremation before you are dead.
If that sounds dangerous, don't worry: it's only a simulation and nobody gets hurt. In one corner of a theme park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzen, two businessmen have set up a pretend crematorium in which living people can climb inside a coffin, which then rolls into an "incinerator" that blasts them with hot air and bright light to simulate the process of burning.
After that, they experience a simulation of re-birth: they see a womb projected onto the ceiling of the simulator and have to crawl from the coffin into a large padded space representing the womb from which they will be re-born. All this costs the equivalent of 26 pounds and has apparently been popular enough to inspire further cremation simulators in South Korea and Taiwan.
I'm not sure I'd like to try it, but there's some good sense behind the idea. Before we choose, it's good to know something about what we're choosing. That applies in all areas of life, from jobs to holidays to funerals. What are the options? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What are the costs? If you make a funeral plan, you can consider all these things at your own pace, make the best possible decision and enjoy complete peace of mind about what will happen to you when you pass away.
Cremation is an option that many people are turning to. Some choose it because they want their ashes scattered at a place that was important to them during their lives. Perhaps it will be their own garden, perhaps a favourite fishing-spot. Ashes are hygienic and take up little space, so scattering them doesn't break any laws or cause any inconvenience to other people. But if you don't want your ashes to be scattered, they're also easy to store and some people take that option instead. An urn can be chosen in advance and will last for decades or even centuries. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish.
It's all up to the individual who is making a funeral plan, but advice and information are always useful. All good funeral directors will be happy to answer questions about cremation, because customer choice is an essential part of the funeral business. Making choices also makes it easier to face what is often a daunting prospect: the end of life. And it can be daunting not just for the person who passes away, but also for those who will be left behind.
This is another advantage of a funeral plan. Choices made in good time remove anxiety and worry and allow us to make the most of the time that remains to us. Whether you choose cremation or burial, you know exactly what's going to happen and so do your loved ones. Peace of mind is often hard to find in a fast-moving and constantly changing world, but funeral plans are one way to achieve it.