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Cremation is chosen by many people because of religious beliefs, the desire to preserve the environment, or personal preference. Cremation can also provide a less expensive alternative to burial. The cremation process involves the application of intense heat to reduce the body to bone fragments, which are then processed to resemble course sand. The cremated remains of an average adult body will weigh about 7-8 pounds. Cremation is not an alternative to a funeral, but rather an alternative to burial or other forms of disposition. Individuals who select cremation may still elect to have a viewing and/or a memorial service.
Cremated remains can be scattered or buried, or they may be kept with the family in a decorative urn. There are many new and different options for final disposition of cremated remains available today: they can be placed in an artificial coral reef in the ocean, launched into space, or they can be incorporated into pieces of art or jewelry.
Some religions welcome cremation while others forbid it. The Catholic Church had banned cremation up until 1963 and burial remains the preferred form of disposition today. In other Christian denominations, cremation was historically discouraged, but nowadays it is more widely accepted. In eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, cremation is mandated; while in Islam it is strictly forbidden. Orthodox Jews also forbid cremation, other sects of Judaism support cremation, but burial remains the preferred option.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service.
Is a casket needed for Cremation?
No, a casket is not required. Most states require an alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard; however, in some states no container is required.
Is embalming required prior to cremation?
No. In fact, it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.
Can the body be viewed without embalming?
Yes, most crematories allow immediate family members to briefly view the deceased prior to cremation.
Can the family witness the cremation?
Yes, family members may be present during the cremation. Some religious groups even include this as a part of their funeral custom.
Can an urn be brought into church?
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. When possible, we encourage having the cremated remains present during the memorial service, as it provides a focal point for the service.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
While laws vary state by state, for the most part remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or a cremation garden, interred in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
All reputable cremation providers have developed rigorous sets of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error. Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation at a time, and the vast majority of crematories can only cremate one body at a time, it is next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains.
How long does the actual cremation take?
It depends on the individual. For an average sized adult, cremation takes two to three hours.
What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average sized adult usually weighs between 7 and 8 pounds.
Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.
Do I need an urn?
An urn is not required by law; however, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be displayed in a home or interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary plastic container.