Understanding Cremation Options

There are several factors to consider when deciding between cremation and burial. Some may encounter some discomfort with cremation or resistance from family members for a variety of personal reasons.

Will your family be comfortable with cremation? Some family members are uncomfortable with the thought of death itself, much less cremation, which many perceive as a cold and uninvolved process. There may be resistance to your wishes when the time comes.  This can be an opportunity to address these concerns with your family now if you want to be cremated.  

Cremation is one method of disposition of the body.  You have many options to consider when considering cremation.  For example, would the body be present for a gathering or visitation, or a celebration or service?  If not, would the cremation take place prior to a gathering or celebration?  Cremation does not limit your choices for having a gathering, celebration, or time of fellowship.  All of these options help to keep the memory near and gather the support and comfort that comes from having friends and family near.

It is important to consider what may happen to the cremated remains.  Studies have shown the importance of having a place for people to go, or a place of permanent memorialization.  A cemetery provides this.  Cemeteries allow you to inter cremated remains, have a place for you and generations to come to visit, place a monument or marker, and provide for the perpetual care of the grounds.  Scattering requests should be given careful consideration.  There is a legal element to consider – can it be done, and the permanence of scattering – it cannot be undone. 

There are many considerations which must be taken into account when a funeral home or crematory is entrusted with the disposition of human remains.  High standards must be employed during all phases of the cremation process. Therefore, uniform policies have been developed in order to maintain the professionalism and public trust expected from those involved in the service.

Cremation is performed by placing an individual cremation container or prepared casket, containing the deceased, within the cremation chamber where it is subjected to intense heat and flame. Upon completion of the cremation cycle, all substances are consumed or driven off, except bone fragments (calcium compounds), metals, and other non-human materials.

Following a cooling period, the cremated remains are then swept or raked from the cremation chamber. The crematory makes a reasonable effort to remove all of the cremated remains from the cremation chamber, but it is impossible to remove all dust and residue fragments. Some are always left behind. In addition, while every effort will be made to avoid commingling, inadvertent or incidental commingling of minute particles of cremated remains from the residue of previous cremations is a possibility.

After the cremated remains are removed from the chamber, the remains will be separated, by magnetic or visual means, from most metals and other non-human materials to which may be fixed bone fragments or other human residue. These materials will be disposed of by the crematory in a non-recoverable manner. If you have a desire to retain these metals (such as dental gold and silver) or other non-human materials, these must be removed before the cremation process. The funeral home and/or the crematory will not be responsible for identifying or removing such items from the body.

When the cremated remains are removed from the cremation chamber, the skeletal remains often contain recognizable bone fragments. Unless otherwise specified, after the bone fragments have been separated from the other materials, they will then be mechanically processed (pulverized). These granulated particles will be virtually unrecognizable as human remains. This process of crushing or grinding may cause incidental commingling of the remains with residue from the processing of previously cremated remains.

Once processed, the cremated remains are then placed in a specific urn. Unless a suitable urn is purchased for the cremated remains of the deceased, the crematory will place the remains in a container which is designed for short term use and not recommended for shipment. The crematory will make a reasonable effort to place all of the cremated remains in the urn or container, with the exception of dust or other residue which may remain in the cremation chamber or processing equipment. In the event that the urn or other container selected is insufficient to accommodate the cremated remains of the deceased, the person signing the cremation authorization will be contacted.

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