Aside from being a funeral professional, the only time people look into cremation is when a loved one dies or funeral planning is underway. There are 10 most frequently asked questions about cremation for those who are just considering it for their own funeral or for a family member who has recently passed.
1. How does a cremation service differ from that of a traditional burial service ceremony?
There really is no difference except what it is called and whether the body is present or not. A "funeral service" typically means that the body will be present and is given a traditional burial. For cremation however, most refer to the ceremony as a "memorial service" and the body will not be present. The content within each service is entirely subject to the family. Families generally have more options in the service if the loved one is cremated since the body is not present, there is no time sensitivity involved.
2. Is a casket required?
The cremated remains (or commonly called "cremains") is placed with a rigid or sturdy container immediately after cremation occurs. This is generally a temporary container until an urn can be provided by the family. A casket is NOT required since cremains do not need to occupy such a large space. Traditionally caskets are only used for burials.
3. How is cremation accomplished?
The body is placed in a combustible container and then placed inside the cremation chamber with intense heat. This reduces the body to its basic elements which are referred to as cremains or cremation remains. It may surprise many that the final remains do not have the appearance of what is typically referred to as ashes. In fact, what is left are bone fragments. The bone fragments are then processed even further into finer particles in some crematories and placed inside a temporary container along with the other remains. Depending on the size of the body, there are usually about 9 lbs. of fragments.
4. Isn't cremation an end in itself?
Some people may look at it in this way but for most families, they would like to place the remains in a final resting place that can be identified with a name and dates of the deceased. This is called memorialization which is serves as a human need to remember and be remembered.
5. What choices of Memorialization are available?
A final resting place can be provided by various means. The family may choose an urn to contain the final remains after receiving them from the crematory. It can be placed within a columbarium which is a building or structure where a single niche space or family units may be selected. Niches are recessed in compartments enclosed by glass. You can also choose to bury the urn into the ground or place them in an urn garden.
6. What about scattering cremated remains?
Some crematories provide scattering gardens within their dedicated property, often with the option of personal memorials. You cannot scatter remains anywhere. Locations for scattering cremains are also dictated by your local or government state laws. It's always best to check with your funeral director on those specific places which are permitted.
7. How does the cost of cremation compare with trial or entombment?
The basic cost for just the cremation is a little less than a traditional burial but it will depend on other factors as well. Other items regarding the disposition might include a viewing or wake where embalming is necessary, burial plot or where the location of the scattering will be. The cost will often will depend on these other items and can sometimes end up almost the same cost as a traditional burial.
8. Is a funeral director necessary?
State laws do require a licensed person to transport the body and obtain the necessary permits. Funeral directors are among those so licensed and are the only ones permitted to do so. Some funeral homes also operate their own crematory and can perform cremations. They often serve also a helpful guide during the funeral process.
9. Is embalming necessary?
No, it is not. Embalming is only required when the funeral service is for a traditional burial and the body needs to be preserved for a viewing or for the funeral service itself. It is the process of injecting the deceased body with chemicals in order to delay the decomposition.
10. Are more people choosing cremation today?
Yes. In previous years the percentage of cremation for deaths has been steadily increasing and in some states, supersede traditional burials. Cremations is accepted by followers of most religious faiths. In today's economy, some families also choose cremation for cost saving reasons.