The burial space crisis is a growing concern

By Anh Pham   December 11, 2022 | 04:43 pm PT
The burial space crisis is a growing concern
Buddha statues and huts that provide shade for visitors dot the Thien Duc Vinh Hang Vien Cemetery in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Trang
If we continue the practice of burying the dead and then exhuming bodies for reburial, it will not only become too expensive, but will also lead to a shortness of space for the living in the next 10 years.

Yesterday, I went to a relative's funeral in the countryside of a developed province. The province is renowned throughout the country for its tradition of diligent students. It is not difficult to find articles extolling the example of these successful students who were born and raised in this area. With such a high educational level, life here is generally more civilized than in other regions of the nation.

Because of this, I was not surprised to learn that cremation is compulsory in the region. Perhaps that’s why funerals here are never done in an extravagant, prolonged and costly way.

This suddenly reminded me of a crucial family matter: the planning of funerals. In this rural area, funeral arrangements are handled in a very contemporary manner. This, in my opinion, should serve as a good example for other communities across the nation.

The government should start by ensuring that each community has a funeral home and that funerals are conducted in a simple and affordable way. More importantly, a timeline for implementing a new law requiring cremation for all deceased persons must be established soon.

My hometown is a fairly developed rural area. When a person dies, the unwritten rule of cremation comes to mind, but not everyone follows this practice. Although the vast majority of people who pass away are cremated, approximately 10% are buried, requiring costly and time-consuming exhumations and reburials. There have even been instances in which unearthed corpses were not fully decomposed, making it difficult to either rebury or cremate them.

Therefore, if there is a law mandating cremation for all the deceased, this undesirable situation will no longer happen. And if this law were to be implemented, there would be some local communities that accept it immediately. However, this would be difficult to implement in many other parts of the country. Since burial traditions have been practiced in these areas for generations and are difficult to alter, it is necessary to have a detailed plan for change.

The world's population is approximately 8 billion, and our country is similarly overpopulated. If burial practices are maintained at all costs, within a few decades, there may not be enough space for people to live in many communities. Therefore, it is necessary to have a prescribed route: ashes can be placed in pagodas, churches, or columbariums after cremation, as opposed to the costly burial grounds used today. In addition, it is suggested that cremated ashes be released into rivers or oceans or used for planting purposes. Additionally, it would be of great value if more bodies of the deceased were donated to medical science.

Civilized funerals indicate a civilized society, and how they are arranged reveals a great deal about a region’s level of development. If related regulations are soon implemented, I believe funerals will definitely be conducted in a much more civilized manner, thereby contributing to the development of society.

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