Questions about Cremation

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What is a crematory?

A crematory is a facility that performs cremations of human or animal remains through a process called “cremation”. The cremation process uses a combination of high-temperature burning, vaporization, and oxidation, which reduces the body to its basic compounds, also known as “ashes”.

What are some memorialization options for cremated remains?

  • You can place the ashes in an urn
  • Scatter the ashes
  • Bury the urn
  • Place the urn in a cremation niche (columbarium)
  • Keep a portion of the ashes in cremation (keepsake) jewelry

Can extremely overweight people be cremated?

Yes. An extremely obese person can be cremated, but it will require access to a crematory that has a retort (cremation chamber) large enough to accommodate the body. If there is no local cremation facility with an oversized retort, it will be necessary to transfer the body to a facility which does. You will incur additional costs for transportation, usually calculated per mile; extra cost for an oversized cremation container; and excess weight of cremation charge. Depending on the exact services, these additional charges may cause an oversized cremation to run $100-$500 more than a standard cremation.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

Cremated remains may be buried or interred in a columbarium, stored in an urn, scattered, or made into memorial jewelry. Other unusual and creative options include making a synthetic diamond from the ashes, storing the ashes in a specially designed stuffed teddy bear, mixing them into tattoo ink, and including ashes in a fireworks display.

Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I choose cremation?

The main difference is in the processes involved in the disposition of the body (the cremation process vs. the embalming process). For the funeral ceremony itself, you can have a traditional funeral the same as if the body was present. 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. You can also still have a graveside service if the urn is interred in a burial plot or columbarium.

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.

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