Cremation is a process in which intense heat is used to transform the body back
to its basic elements. The body, enclosed in a container approved for cremation,
is placed in a cremation chamber. The soft tissue is vaporized. What remains is
not ashes, but bone fragments weighing from three to nine pounds on average.
This is what is contained in the cremation urn.
Funeral homes often engage the services of a local crematory. Crematories
provide the actual cremation with reverence and dignity. Crematories are
regulated and inspected by state and federal agencies.
Cremation is just one form of preparing the body for final disposition. Cremation
procedures include filling out the death certificate and all other official documents.
Cremation does not take the place of customary funeral services; it's merely
another form of final disposition. Funeral services are the way we, the living,
share our grief, acknowledge the contributions the deceased has made to our
lives, and prepare ourselves for going on with life.
Burial Vs. Cremation--A Complete Guide to the Options
Why are more and more people choosing cremation? There are many factors,
- Personal or spiritual philosophy
- Environmental philosophy
- Simplicity or convenience
- Greater acceptance now among many religions
- People are more likely to live away from their family roots (jobs, retirement, living, etc.)
Cremation is a centuries-old funeral rite which is again growing in preference. It's the
rite of preference in Europe, Great Britain, Japan, Scandinavia, and other regions.
When choosing cremation as part of your pre-planned arrangements, important
considerations should be given to a few specific issues.
How are cremation services different from regular burial services? They're not.
Services with cremation are the same as with earth burial, unless you prefer something
different. It's your choice to make--your funeral, if you will.
Whatever you choose--casket and burial or cremation--family and friends need time to
grieve and to say good-bye. This is the reason for funeral services--to support the
living through the pain and loneliness of loss to acceptance and resolution.
Cremation and burial offer the same services, including music, prayers, and recitations
of your choice. You can having viewing and visitation arrangements, with an open or
closed casket (or no casket at all) for as long or as short a period as you wish.
Here are a few other services and options for your funeral or memorial service:
Reception for Family and Friends;
- At the funeral home
- At your church
- In your home
- At another location that is special to the family or to the deceased
Your local funeral director can assist you with these arrangements.
Memorial or Prayer Service:
- A service of remembrance (like a funeral)
- With or without the urn or casket present
- Whenever you choose
- With whomever you choose
Issues to Consider with Cremation
There are some issues to consider when deciding between cremation and burial.
Families may encounter some discomfort with cremation and resistance from family
members for a variety of personal reasons. A funeral director has the skills and
experience to help resolve these issues.
Will your family be comfortable with cremation? Some family members are disturbed
at the thought of death itself, much less cremation, which many perceive as a cold and
uninvolved process. They may resist your wishes when the time comes. Address it with
your family now if you want to be cremated. You can put their unease to rest, and
have peace of mind knowing your wishes will be carried out.
Direct cremation is another option--many people request to eliminate "all the bother of
funeral services" for family members. Funeral services aren't provided for the
deceased--they exist to help support and comfort the living. Take time to consider
family and friends and their need to work through the grieving process before you
make this decision. For more on planning a funeral or memorial service, see the
Funeral Service Planning Guide.
Scattering requests should be given careful consideration as well. Emptying the urn of
all that remains of a loved one can be a traumatic experience--carefully consider the
feelings of the family in deciding whether or not to do this.
Another factor you should consider when deciding whether or not to choose cremation
include the fact that crematories are operated by dedicated people with great respect
for the deceased.
For purposes of safety and dignity, it's generally required that bodies are cremated in a
rigid container such as a casket or other container approved for cremation.
Restrictions on cremation are different from state to state, even from one cemetery to
the next. Depending on the final resting place you choose, requirements may include an
urn, urn vault, and other items. Making your choices now can help your family down
the road. In most cases, cremation satisfies federal clean air requirements.
You should check to ensure that all personal property has been removed from the
deceased at the funeral home and returned to the family or executor unless otherwise
instructed. Families should also be mindful of valuables and mementos placed with the
loved one. For more on the cremation process, and what happens before, during, and
after, see the cremation process information provided by the Cremation Association of