Ashes to Ashes: The Growing Popularity of Cremation

When families that want cremation walk into Bradshaw Funeral & Cremation Services in Stillwater, Minn., they’re presented two options: fire or water. Bradshaw is one of only two funeral homes in the U.S. offering a new method of cremation called alkaline hydrolysis, also known as green or water-based cremation, and four out of five families have chosen water over flames since Bradshaw started offering the service in July.

TIME sent photographer and filmmaker Shaul Schwarz to Stillwater to document Bradshaw’s innovative service as well as the crematory and mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis to get a glimpse of what it’s like for families to make end-of-life decisions amongst an endless array of options. Schwarz’s short film goes behind the scenes at these crematories to capture the process of both flame- and water-based cremation, the mind-boggling choices for the disposition of “cremains” today (think: space launch), the funeral service of a man recently cremated and why his family, like so many others today, chose cremation over burial.

Click here to read TIME’s special report on cremation and find out why our changing attitude toward this final rite of passage says everything about the way we live now.


Shaul Schwarz is an award winning photographer and filmmaker. Schwarz is represented by Reportage/Getty Images.

Josh Sanburn is a writer/reporter for TIME in New York. Follow him on Twitter @joshsanburn.


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