Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation
It's become very common to find a list of frequently-asked-questions on a website; most of us already know the basic definition of "FAQ": "an online document containing a list of the questions most often asked about a particular subject, together with answers".
Today's online FAQ pages offer Internet users fast and easy access to the specific answers they need; and we feel our cremation FAQ is no exception. We have tried our best to ensure the most frequently asked questions about cremation are listed below. However, if your question isn't listed here, simply give us a call at (301) 739-5498. You can be sure one of our cremation professionals will be delighted to give you the in-depth answer you want and need.
What is cremation?
Cremation is a process which uses extreme heat to reduce a human body to its basic constituent compounds, which are commonly called "ashes". Human populations have used cremation to care for their dead for centuries, and today's technological advances have made cremation a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional burial.
What are the costs involved with cremation?
There really are no standardized cremation costs. Basically, the individual charges which make up the final cost of cremation include the administrative services of a funeral professional, transportation of the deceased to the crematory, the alternative or cremation casket selected, and the fees charged by the crematory for the cremation process. There are additional costs, if you decide to hold a funeral or memorial service.
Is embalming necessary for cremation?
No it is not. However, if you hold a visitation or a funeral, where your loved one's body will be present, embalming may be considered necessary–for aesthetic and/or health reasons–by your funeral professional. We urge you to explore your familial situation with your funeral director during the arrangement conference.
Is a casket required for cremation?
Crematories require the use of what is known as an alternative container. Commonly these are rigid, durable yet totally combustible, cardboard boxes. However, if you are holding a visitation or funeral, you can also choose a more traditional looking cremation casket. Elegant in design, with absolutely no metal parts, a cremation casket is a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the most basic (and purely functional) cardboard container.
How much does cremation cost?
Much like other purchases which are a combination of charges for services rendered and products which support the completion of those services (such as the purchase of carpeting and under-padding, which are then combined with the cost of installation); the cost of cremation can vary (depending on the products and services selected). Speak with one of our funeral professionals to learn more about the cost of our cremation services.
If I want to have a visitation or funeral, can I rent a casket?
Of course, our overriding goal is to fully facilitate the ceremonial intentions of each of the families we serve. This means we must offer a wide variety of flexible service options, including rental caskets. Speak with one of our funeral professionals to learn more about renting a casket.
Is a funeral or memorial service really necessary?
Archaeologists, anthropologists and historian tell us that since prehistoric times, collective rituals like these have been a most important part of the human social experience. Such events affirm existing and newly-formed relationships; emotionally and spiritually strengthen individuals, and acknowledge the transition of a person from one social status to another. Ceremonies and rituals have a very important purpose: they bind us together in good times and bad.
What can I do with the ashes?
There really is nothing you need to do, or should do, with a loved one's cremated remains. However, being aware of your options is always a good thing. Some families choose to keep a family member's ashes at home permanently; others do so only until they decide on a location to scatter the ashes. Families can also make arrangements to place their loved one's ashes in the safekeeping of a cemetery mausoleum or columbarium. Still others opt to ship a portion of the cremated remains to other family members, either for a private scattering or as a treasured keepsake. When you take possession of their ashes, you'll have the same set of options.
How do the world's major religions view cremation?
In some cases, as in Catholicism, religious doctrines around cremation are changing. Protestant denominations are more accepting of cremation; in fact, many were instrumental in the passage of burial reforms measures (many of which supported cremation) at the turn of the 20th century. Hinduism advocates cremation, while Islam prohibits and certain Judaic movements oppose it, as it is seen to violate Talmudic law. If you have religious or spiritual concerns about cremation, we urge you to speak with your pastor or clergy person.
What do I need to know to transport cremated remains?
You may need a set of special documents, including the death certificate, certificate of cremation, and any requisite authorization forms. The U.S. Post Office has specific guidelines for shipping cremated remains; and while most airlines allow you to transport a loved one's ashes (whether human or animal) as cargo, some allow you to transport them within your carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, if you plan on transporting cremated remains internationally, things get more complicated. We advise you to discuss your situation with one of our funeral professionals.
Can I witness the cremation?
Each crematory has unique guidelines regarding familial participation in the cremation process. Many offer witness cremation as a standard service, allowing a small number of family members to watch the initial stages of the cremation process. Some even allow a certain degree of participation in the process. If you're interested in witnessing your loved one's cremation, please speak with one of our funeral professionals.
Who can take possession of a family member's cremated remains?
If the deceased did not designate someone, the individual identified as the "next-of-kin" (commonly the spouse, domestic partner, child, or sibling of the deceased) is considered the person responsible for making all decisions related to their end-of-life care. However, that person can also authorize another–in writing– to be the responsible recipient of the cremated remains.
What steps are taken to ensure the identity of the deceased prior to cremation?
We have a reliable, tested identification system in place to assure families that the identity of their loved one will be known to us at all times. A durable identification tag is placed on the body; permanently marked with the individual's name, social security number, date of birth, and date of death. A recent photograph of the deceased is requested from the family, which is used to verify the identity of the body at the time of transportation to the crematory, and prior to the cremation process. This durable tag is cremated along with the individual, ensuring their identity after the process is completed. This tag is included in the cremated remains when they are returned to the family.
Can we have a service either prior to, or after, the cremation?
The short answer: you can have a service at any point in time. Many families hold a viewing, followed by a funeral (after which the body is taken to the crematory). Others feel a memorial service, held after the cremation has occurred, provides them with the most flexibility in both scheduling and ceremonial design. Celebrating the life of a loved one can be a very cathartic experience, and it really is up to you how this communal ritual will look and feel. Speak with one of our funeral professionals to discuss your service intentions and desires.
Can I keep my family member's cremated remains at home?
Of course you can. In fact, it may help with the early months of bereavement to keep a loved one "close to home" and heart. However, there may also come a time when you're ready to release them into the safekeeping of a cemetery, or scatter their cremated remains in a meaningful location. It's again, really your decision.
How will my family member's body be cared for, prior to its cremation?
It is always our intention to provide respectful care of every individual who is entrusted to us for cremation care. This means your loved one's body will be tended to by trained professionals who will ensure it is cremated as soon as possible and kept under "lock and key" in a refrigerated unit until that time.
How long does it take to cremate a body?
Usually the actual cremation takes between 2 – 2.5 hours. The body is reduced to about 3-7 pounds of ash. A cool-down period follows, and then the cremated remains are processed for a uniform appearance.
Can you bury ashes in a cemetery?
Yes, you can. The burial can be in-ground, or your loved one's cremation urn can be placed in a columbarium niche. A columbarium is the same in purpose as a mausoleum, but instead of crypt spaces large enough for a full-size casket; it features smaller niche spaces, large enough for one (or maybe two) cremation urns.
Wiktionary, "frequently asked questions", accessed 2014.