With the recent passing of one of our beloved parishioners and her subsequent cremation, it is timely that we all be reminded of our Orthodox Church’s position on cremation. In many cases involving families that are not all Orthodox, it is especially important to put in writing our request to be buried with a full Orthodox Funeral rather than being cremated.
The following comes right from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and can be found in both the annually published Yearbook and the Archdiocesan website:
Because the Orthodox Faith affirms the fundamental goodness of creation, it understands the body to be an integral part of the human person and the temple of the Holy Spirit, and expects the resurrection of the dead. The Church considers cremation to be the deliberate desecration and destruction of what God has made and ordained for us. The Church instead insists that the body be buried so that the natural physical process of decomposition may take place. The Church does not grant funerals, either in the sanctuary, or at the funeral home, or at any other place, to persons who have chosen to be cremated. Additionally, memorial services with kolyva (boiled wheat) are not allowed in such instances, inasmuch as the similarity between the “kernel of wheat” and the “body” has been intentionally destroyed.