According to Jan Olov Andersson, CEO of the Swedish Federation of Cemeteries and Crematoria (Sveriges kyrkogårds- och krematorieförbund) there has been an upward trend in requests to attend cremations.
“Sometimes it is Buddhists who want to take part in accordance with their faith, but also others who want to follow a close relative on their last journey,” Andersson told national broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT).
Furthermore, he explained that these days a crematorium is much more likely to be a light and welcoming environment, a concept taken into account when new ones are built or being refurbished.
There are currently no figures on relatives being present at cremations as statistics are not being recorded, according to SVT.
And even if there is more interest among Swedes to attend cremations, it is still not that common an event as most people don’t know that the possibility even exists, according to the broadcaster.
“I think we haven’t been that good at informing the public. And in areas where we have informed bereaved relatives of the option we have noted a significant increase in requests,” Andersson told SVT.
Bo Jakobson, a caretaker at a crematorium in Katrineholm in eastern Sweden, initially found it difficult to handle when relatives came along to the cremation of their loved ones, but has conceded that experience of being at a relative’s cremation is a way to de-dramatize their death.
“It makes it a special occasion. The Buddhists are always easy to have around and work with, but the Swedes who have taken part are sadder and that’s more difficult to tackle, I think,” he said.
He told the broadcaster that most people still seem to have preconceived ideas of what a crematorium will look like:
“Most still expect it to be a dirty furnace room,” he told SVT.