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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Cremation
 

1.

Traditional Funeral Or Direct Cremation. Are There Any Options In Between?

2.

What Is Involved In Personalizing A Loved One’s Ceremony?

3.

What Is Cremation Anyway?

4.

Is Anything Required Prior To Cremation?

5.

Are Cremations Done Individually?

6.

Why Do People Select Cremation?

7.

Do All Religions Permit Cremation?

8.

Is Embalming Required?

9.

Everyone In My Family Has Always Been Buried, But I Want To Be Cremated. What Options Do I Have?

10.

How Do I Personalize A Ceremony?

11.

Are There Any Unique Urns Available?

12.

Is A Casket Necessary For Cremation?

13.

Are There Special Caskets For Cremation?

14.

What Types Of Cremation Urns Are Available?

15.

What Do Most People Do With Cremated Remains?

1.Traditional Funeral Or Direct Cremation. Are There Any Options In Between?
In the recent years, the frequency of questions we receive about cremation has been on a steady rise. Many families want to know about the cremation process itself as well as the options and possibilities that exist for commemorating the life that has been lived. This handout addresses some of the most frequently asked questions and discusses a number of available options. It is designed to provide the information needed to make intelligent, educated decisions.

In the recent years, the frequency of questions we receive about cremation has been on a steady rise. Many families want to know about the cremation process itself as well as the options and possibilities that exist for commemorating the life that has been lived. This handout addresses some of the most frequently asked questions and discusses a number of available options. It is designed to provide the information needed to make intelligent, educated decisions.

2.What Is Involved In Personalizing A Loved One’s Ceremony?
Personalizing your loved one’s funeral ceremony is highly recommended. We encourage families to express themselves in a manner that is a reflection of the life that has been lived. These expressions can and should be as unique as the individual being remembered. You can accomplish this through tangible items such as personal photographs or through intangible expressions such as the sharing of favorite memories.

In addition to assisting you with creating a personal and meaningful ceremony, this handout also presents options for a meaningful memorialization. Many unique options exist today to personalize memorialization. The sundial urn is just one example. Our experienced counselors can offer additional guidance and suggestions.

3.What Is Cremation Anyway?
First of all, cremation is not something new and it is not a substitute for a funeral. It’s a process that has been around for thousands of years and is really just another method preparing the deceased for memorialization.

The process of cremation begins with an identification procedure that is designed to provide peace of mind to family members and ensure the integrity of the cremated remains. Because cremation is an irreversible process, positive identification of the deceased is crucial.

Once positive identification has been established and all necessary permits and authorizations have been obtained, the cremation casket or container is placed into the cremation chamber. The casket or container is then exposed to intense heat and flame for a period of approximately 2 to 3 hours. The exact length of time necessary for cremation will vary depending on the size and weight of the deceased and temperatures will range between 1500 to 1800 degrees. During the cremation process all matter will be consumed except certain bone fragments and non-combustible items such as prostheses, casket hinges and jewelry.

After cremation is complete, a cooling period is required prior to the recovery of the cremated remains. Following the cooling period, the cremated remains are carefully gathered from the cremation chamber and all non-combustible items are separated and disposed of properly. The remaining bone fragments are further processed, reducing them to a fine, grayish-white, granular or powdery consistency that generally weights between 4 to 8 pounds. Crematory personnel then carefully place the cremated remains into an urn selected by the family or into a container designed for temporary storage.

4.Is Anything Required Prior To Cremation?
Because of the irreversible nature of cremation, a positive identification of the deceased is necessary prior to cremation. Any other desired viewings, whether public or private, also must be coordinated prior to cremation. In addition, depending on state or local laws, there may be a mandatory waiting period before cremation can take place. In Massachusetts, for example, cremation cannot take place within the first forty-eight hours following death and then only after authorization by the coroner or medical examiner of the county in which the death occurred. Additional permits and cremation authorization forms also need to be completed by the appropriate parties involved.

Certain medical devices such as pacemakers and radioactive implants must be removed prior to cremation. Pacemakers may explode during the cremation process, which can pose potential hazards to both crematory personnel and equipment. Additionally, certain radioactive medications used prior to death may also pose potential health hazards to crematory personnel.

Any personal items you wish to retain, such as jewelry, should be removed prior to cremation. Any items not removed will be destroyed during the cremation process, or otherwise disposed of in a non-recoverable manner.

Finally, if desired, a small number of personal items may be placed with the deceased prior to cremation. These items will remain with the deceased and will be consumed during the cremation process. Specific requests are generally not a problem, but must be identified prior to cremation for proper coordination.

5.Are Cremations Done Individually?
Yes. Only one cremation casket or container is cremated at a time. Special exceptions can be made only in cases of close relatives, and then only with appropriate prior written authorization

6.Why Do People Select Cremation?
The reasons for choosing cremation are as varied and unique as the individuals selecting it. Some choose cremation because of their feelings on environmental issues and land usage; others select it to save money or because of their religious beliefs. Cremation for some provides the option of scattering the remains or keeping the remains at home. The reasons for considering cremation are a highly personal reflection of an individual’s beliefs and preferences.

7.Do All Religions Permit Cremation?
Religious positions vary widely regarding cremation. Some require it, others disallow or advise against it, and others take no position at all. Most, however, will allow you to decide. If you are uncertain as to the position your religion embraces, we would advise you to speak directly with your clergy

8.Is Embalming Required?
No, embalming is not required for cremation. Embalming, however, is necessary when a cremation ceremony involves a public viewing. Some families also elect to have embalming performed if there will be an extended delay between the time of death and an identification viewing.

9.Everyone In My Family Has Always Been Buried, But I Want To Be Cremated. What Options Do I Have?
The choice between burial and cremation is a highly personal decision. The following pages of this handout offer some options for you to consider. These options should be used as a guide to help you create a personal ceremony that best suits your individual and family needs. The decisions you make truly do depend on the manner in which you choose to recognize the life that has been lived.

Cremation may actually present you with additional options in funeral planning. You can decide whether to have a public or private viewing or no viewing at all. You can choose to have the casketed remains present for the ceremony or to have a memorial ceremony without the casket present. Some individuals may choose to have a viewing followed by a ceremony at a later date and others may wish to have a ceremony in conjunction with the scattering of the cremated remains. The combinations of options are limited only to your personal wishes.

10.How Do I Personalize A Ceremony?
Families often tell us, “We want to remember him the way he was.” In this comment is the beginning of a personalized funeral or cremation ceremony. By remembering the qualities that made our loved one who they were or the unique way they could make us laugh, we commemorate their life. By sharing these memories during a service, we personalize the ceremony. You may choose to do this through a eulogy or music, or by creating a memory setting complete with a collage of photos and special mementos. Creating a setting that represents an individual’s family, work, hobbies, civic involvement or special interest can be very therapeutic during a difficult time. Don’t discount anything as being “too much of a bother.” Allow your imagination to guide you. Your family, friends, clergy and cremation counselor can help.

11.Are There Any Unique Urns Available?
Yes. And more are being introduced every day! Some urns are designed very traditionally while others are tailored to meet more specific needs. Today, urns are available to meet nearly any request.

12.Is A Casket Necessary For Cremation?
No. A casket is not required for cremation. Most crematories will, however, require a rigid, combustible, covered container. This minimum requirement, also referred to as an alternate container, is required for sanitary reasons and allows for a dignified manner in which to place the deceased into the cremation chamber. The type of cremation casket or container used is really a personal choice. Once selected, the deceased is placed into the cremation casket or container for an identification viewing and any mandatory waiting period prior to cremation.

13.Are There Special Caskets For Cremation?
Yes. There are caskets specifically designed for cremation. These caskets may be used for ceremonies with public or private viewings, identification viewings, or simply to meet the crematory’s minimum container requirement. They are constructed using very little metal and are designed to be compatible with cremation. We offer a wide selection of cremation caskets ranging from solid cherry and oak to corrugated materials.

14.What Types Of Cremation Urns Are Available?
Cremation urns are offered in a wide variety of styles and materials. Your personal plans for the final placement of the urn can play an important part in your selection process. Some urns are ornately designed for display purposes while others are very basic in style. Pewter, bronze, hardwood, ceramic, porcelain, glass and marble are just a few of the materials used for urn construction. Many of the urns can also be personalized with engravings or laser designs.

15.What Do Most People Do With Cremated Remains?
Cremation is only the preparation of the deceased for memorialization and is in many ways a preservation of our past. Through memorialization we remember our loved ones and provide a place of pilgrimage that can be very important to a family later in life. It is a means by which generations are connected. What most people do with cremated remains is a matter of personal choice. The following are some examples of your options.

  • Burial On A Family Plot
    Many families choosing cremation opt for having the cremated remains buried on a family cemetery plot. Cemeteries often allow the burial of more than one container of cremated remains on an individual burial space. The possibility also exists for the combination of a casketed burial and cremated remains on the same page. A graveside ceremony is often held in conjunction with the burial, and there are a wide variety of markers and monuments available to serve as a lasting tribute.
  • Placement In A Columbarium Niche
    A columbarium can be a wall, a room or an entire building designated for cremated remains. A niche is the individual space within the columbarium for the placement of an urn. A columbarium may be located indoors or out. Many cemeteries now offer niche space in a variety of settings. Niche space may be selected for the placement of an individual urn or as a companion space for multiple urns. Niche fronts may be constructed using clear or stained glass, bronze, marble, granite or wood. Some niche fronts may be part of a mosaic wall, and glass-front niches allow for personalization through the placement of photos and mementos with the urn.
  • Scattering Options
    When considering the option of scattering, one must remember that this option is permanent and irreversible. When scattering is selected, many families also arrange for some type of permanent memorialization. This memorialization may take the form of placing a permanent memorial on a family cemetery lot or placing the deceased’s name in a Book of Remembrance or a plaque at a location of significance. Some families choose to plant a tree of remembrance. Any form of memorialization assures that individuals now and in the future have a place of pilgrimage to remember their loved one. Careful and thorough consideration should be given before scattering takes place.
  • Scattering At A Private Site
    Cremated remains can be scattered over land or water providing it is done in accordance with all state and local laws. When scattering is done on private property, it should be done only with the permission of the property owner. There are a number of service providers available that offer additional, unique scattering options such as scattering from an airplane or from a boat. Some of these providers may offer families the ability to accompany the cremated remains to the scattering site. Others will provide a detailed map of where and when the scattering took place.

    Some families choose to scatter on personal property such as a family farm or hunting camp. While this option is appealing to some, careful consideration should be first given. The future sale of the property is just one such consideration.

    Families choosing scattering may also decide to divide the cremated remains and either retain a portion personally or bury them on a family cemetery plot. Either of these options provides for the additional benefit of having a tangible means of remembrance.
  • Keeping The Urn At Home
    Keeping the cremated remains of a loved one at home is a personal choice. It may be a temporary decision until all family members are available to gather for a ceremony of final placement or it may be a permanent decision. A variety of uniquely crafted urns are available for just this purpose. Some incorporate the use of clocks or memento boxes, or are specially designed flag case urns for veterans. Others have the appearance of a book, or have matching picture frames, candlesticks and bud vases.
  • Keepsake Urns
    A number of full-size cremation urns are also available in smaller sizes that are referred to as keepsake, token or portion, urns. These urns are designed to be used when a family wishes to retain a small portion of the cremated remains before scattering or interment. They also can be used when a family chooses to divide the cremated remains between multiple family members.
  • Jewelry
    Keepsake jewelry has been developed as a way for individuals to keep a small portion of cremated remains close at hand as a tangible source of comfort. The jewelry may be displayed in a glass dome or worn as a pendant. Keepsake jewelry can be made of brass, pewter, silver, gold plated or 14k gold. It is available in a variety of styles and is yet another way to personalize a loss.

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