What is Cremation? How Does Cremation Work?
Part of making funeral arrangements on behalf of a loved one involves choosing between burial of the body, or getting cremated. Certainly this is a big decision, based on any number of factors: religious or spiritual beliefs, finances, or ecological awareness are just some of the reasons we've heard for choosing cremation. Before you can make the choice, you need to know exactly what it is you're considering. You can learn the basics below, however, if the content here raises additional questions for you, please give us a call. One of our cremation specialists will address any of your inquiries or concerns about getting cremated.
The Cremation Process Explained
The Cremation Association of North America describes cremation as, "The mechanical and/or thermal or other dissolution process that reduces human remains to bone fragments".
Traditional cremation is the process of reducing a body at very high temperatures until it is nothing but brittle, calcified bones. These are then processed into what we commonly call ashes. Returned to the family in a temporary urn (or a more personal urn selected by the family), these ashes can be kept, buried, or scattered. Some families even choose to place a loved one's cremated remains in a hand-crafted piece of cremation art.
How Does Cremation Work
The container is placed in the retort or cremating chamber. It takes anywhere from two to three hours to reduce an average adult to ash. When the cremated remains are cooled, they are processed to a uniformly-sized pebble-like substance and placed in an urn. The funeral director then returns the cremated remains to the family.
As we said earlier, people choose cremation over burial of casketed remains for any combination of reasons. Sometimes it's the simple fear of burial itself, which may stem directly from the Victorian phobia of being buried alive. Or it could be they are uncomfortable with the very idea and imagery of physical decomposition.
What is Required to Arrange for Cremation?
Once the cremation-over-burial decision has been made, all that's required is authorization. This is provided by the person who is the legally identified or appointed next-of-kin. Once all authorization documents are signed, and service charges are paid; the body can be transported from the place of death to the crematory and the cremation process can take place.
However, there are some additional things you may wish to consider, such as:
Is there a special set of clothes (such as a military uniform or favorite dress) your loved one would appreciate the thought of wearing? This will be a focus of the cremation arrangement conversation, and you will be advised by your funeral director as to your best options regarding jewelry or other valuable personal items.
Are there any keepsake items you'd like to include in their cremation casket? Perhaps there's a special memento, such as a treasured photograph or letter? We sometimes suggest family members write cards, notes or letters to their deceased loved one, and place them in the casket prior to the cremation.
Would you or other family members like to be present for–or participate to some degree in–your loved one's cremation? Because we know how healing it can be to take part in an act of "letting go", we welcome the opportunity to bring interested family or friends into the crematory. Please discuss your desire to participate with your funeral director.
Is it Time to Speak with One of Our Cremation Specialists?
We encourage open dialog about all end-of-life issues and getting cremated, and sincerely hope you reach out to us to dig deeper into the topics related to cremation and burial. Give us a call today to ask a question or to set an appointment (either in your home or our office). We look forward to the conversation.
What is Cremation, Cremation Association of North America