Cremation 101

Jun 28th 2018

In some states, cremation as a form of body disposal is rapidly rising as the chosen form of burial for a loved one. There are many reasons relating to cost effectiveness, religious beliefs, or ethnic customs that families choose cremation over the traditional burial. Let's take a brief overview on cremation if you are not familiar with what happens and the process.

Cremation is the heating process that incinerates human remains. A crematory performs this process and places the body in a rigid container which is then placed in a specialized furnace. The cremation process exposes the body to the open flame with intense heat thereby reducing the body fragment to ash. The entire process generally takes between 2-3 hours.

The ashes or cremains result in approximately 3-9 lbs. of ash depending on the size of the body. Most states do have laws on a waiting period after death for when the body can be cremated. Generally the waiting period is a 2-day period but can vary from state to state. This waiting period provides the necessary time for the funeral director to complete and obtain all the required permits and proper authorization.

The most common reason people choose cremation is the cost. It is much less expensive than a traditional burial since there are no additional items such as grave liners to purchase. It also enables the families more options as far as how and where the cremains are scattered or stored. One disadvantage to cremations may be if the family does not choose to have any type of memorial service which can promote confusion about the mourning process and no closure to the death.

It is still possible to have a cremation and a viewing. You can work with your funeral home on having the body viewed in a rented casket prior to cremation. Alternatively, cremation can also take place first prior to the memorial service as opposed to the other way around. Depending on the final resting place, cremains are placed in a temporary container until transported to the burial site. The remains can also be placed in an urn or permanent container and buried or placed in a columbarium.

There are laws that govern how ashes are scattered and may vary depending on what state you live in. Your funeral director will be familiar with the legal and procedural requirements in your state. You will be asked to fill out a form at the funeral home specifically for the cremation choice.

The final resting places can be a cemetery burial with the remains contained in an urn, a columbarium with vaults designated especially for ashes, or scattering. The choice is very specific to each family or is often requested by the deceased in preneed planning or verbally conveyed prior to death.