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What is Sacred Repose?

Life in a spiritual context is a journey from birth to death followed by a rebirth in heaven, someplace else, or another incarnation. No matter your faith, when that mortal coil is cast off, survivors must deal with the earthly remains of their deceased loved ones.

Which brings us to "sacred repose" or the placement of one's earthly remains in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Around the world, honoring the sanctity of life and the transition of death is marked by ritual. For Christians, the tradition of sacred repose has been a central principle when it comes to end-of-life care. In this instance, Christian placement requires interment on sacred ground, on church ground or within consecrated spaces. This applies whether placing cremated remains (ashes) or dealing with in-ground burial.

Some religions require the in-ground full-body burial for their adherents. Others might require burning on a pyre or burial in a shroud rather than a casket. The overwhelming majority of Christian denominations embrace cremation, but also permit burial.

The one pervasive requirement for sacred repose within Christian traditions is final placement on sacred ground. Pastoral care within Christian communities extends "from womb to tomb," meaning from birth to the final placement of one's earthly remains in a sacred space.

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