Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Cremation

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Questions about Cremation

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Can you still have a funeral or viewing with a cremation?

Yes. As with a traditional burial, you can still choose to have a final viewing prior to cremation; but in this case, you may need to have the body embalmed and either purchase or rent a casket for the viewing. If cremation is performed prior to the funeral or memorial service, you can choose to have the urn with the deceased’s ashes present at the service, or not.

Can we have the funeral service before or after cremation?

You can have the funeral service at either time you choose.

Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?

No. You can still have a funeral or memorial service if a person has been cremated. The cremated remains may be placed in an urn and can be present at the service or not, depending on the wishes of the deceased or the family. Cremation actually offers more flexibility than burial when planning a funeral or memorial service because there is no time frame that requires burial within a few days of death.

What religions accept or condone cremation?

Protestants have no restrictions against cremation. Just as many Protestants choose cremation as in-ground burial. In 1963, the Vatican lifted the prohibition against cremation, but did not condone the practice. In 1983, Canon law was revised to allow both cremation and burial as a means of final disposition for Catholics. Although the church still prefers traditional burial over cremation, a rising number of Catholics are choosing to be cremated.

Are there any specific religions that do not approve of cremation?

Muslims, those of Islamic faiths and Orthodox Jews cannot be cremated.

Do all religions permit cremation?

No. While some religions prefer cremation, others do not approve of cremation.

Do all funeral homes and cemeteries have a crematory?

Not all funeral homes or cemeteries have an on-site crematory, but instead have partnerships or affiliations with a cremation service provider.

Can I watch the cremation?

Yes. Most cremation providers will allow you to witness the cremation of your loved one. You may have to pay a fee for this service, and schedule an appointed time to conduct the cremation, depending on the crematory or funeral home providing the cremation.

Do I need an urn for cremated remains?

If you plan to store the cremated remains (“ashes”) permanently, you are going to need an urn or some type of container to hold the ashes securely. If you plan to scatter the ashes at some point in the future, a temporary container may be sufficient as long as it securely holds the ashes.

What is an urn used for?

An urn is a container designed to hold the cremated remains (“ashes”) of the deceased, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Urns may be highly decorative or very simple. They come in a wide variety of styles and can be made of bronze, wood, marble, porcelain, brass, and other man-made or natural materials. Some urns are even biodegradable, allowing the ashes to be buried so that they mingle with the soil as the urn gradually disintegrates over time.

What is alkaline hydrolysis?

Alkaline hydrolysis is an alternative to thermal-based cremation method. Alkaline hydrolysis uses water, potassium hydroxide, relatively low heat (177° Celsius, 350° Fahrenheit), and pressure to reduce the body to bone fragments and an inert liquid.

Can a casket be rented instead of purchased when choosing cremation?

Yes. You can ask the crematory or funeral home director about this option.

Are there special types of cremation caskets?

Yes. Also known as “alternative containers,” these caskets are made of combustible materials such as pressed wood, fiberboard, cardboard, or wood. They are usually simple and lack ornamentation. The container with the body inside is placed in the cremation chamber. The container is also burned during the cremation process.

Is a casket required if a body is cremated?

In a few states, a casket or alternative container is not required for cremation. In this case, the body may be wrapped in a fabric shroud prior to going into the cremation chamber. A regular casket is not specifically required to house the body going into the cremation chamber, but some form of alternative container is normally required, such as a simple box made of combustible materials. If a viewing is to be held prior to the cremation, it may be possible to rent a regular casket for the viewing and funeral, and then purchase the alternative container for the cremation process.

Why is refrigeration of the remains necessary prior to cremation?

Unless the body has been embalmed, refrigeration serves as a temporary means of preventing it from decomposing until cremation can take place.

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