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How is a cremation service different from a traditional funeral service?
It isn't. At least it doesn't have to be different. The extent and the content of a cremation service is entirely subject to the wishes of the family. They may choose as much formality or as little as they feel they want to have and they also have more options when cremation is chosen. Quite often a memorial service is held after cremation has occurred or perhaps the family will want to gather at a convenient time for the final committal of the cremated remains.
Is a casket required?
Most crematories require that the body at least be enclosed and in an acceptably rigid container. This container or casket must be strong enough to assure the protection of the health and safety of the operator. It should provide a proper covering for the body and meet reasonable standards of respect and dignity. Most require that the casket or container be fashioned of a combustible material. The body is cremated in the same enclosure in which it arrives at the crematory.
How is cremation accomplished?
The enclosed body is placed in the cremation chamber where through heat and evaporation the body is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as cremated remains. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes - they are, in fact, bone fragments. After preparation, these elements are either placed in a permanent urn or in a temporary container that is suitable for transport.
Depending upon the size of the body, there are normally three to nine pounds of fragments resulting. Some crematories process the cremated remains, thereby reducing the space they require.
Isn't cremation an end in itself?
Some people may regard it as such, but most families feel that the cremated remains of someone they love should be afforded a resting place that can be identified by the name and dates. This is memorialization. Most families find that a memorial, regardless of its size, serves a basic human need to remember and to be remembered.
What choices of memorialization are available?
A final resting place for cremated remains can be provided by various means. The family may choose from a full selection of urns for permanent containment of the cremated remains. The urns may be placed in a columbarium, which is a building or structure where single niche space or family units may be selected. Niches are recessed compartments enclosed by either glass protecting the engraved urn or ornamental fronts upon which the name and dates are featured. Of course, family lots may be used and cemeteries often permit the interment of more than one person in an adult space if cremation has occurred. In many cemeteries there are also specially designed areas for this purpose, which are called urn gardens.
What about scattering cremated remains?
This may be legally done in most areas. Furthermore, there are reasons for not scattering, because it is for many a very traumatic experience. It can be soul shaking to spill out all that is mortal of someone you have known and loved. One should realize how much is being asked of the person who is to do the scattering. The use of dedicated property assures the site chosen will not be developed for other use at some future time.
How does the cost of cremation compare with burial or entombment?
The basic charge for just cremation is somewhat less than traditional burial. However, with so many items of service available to the family both in the funeral service before and in the mode of disposition after, it's not possible to make an accurate comparison. Again, the family has the option to select as much or as little as they choose and with cremation they have more options.
Is a funeral director necessary?
Some governmental jurisdictions require a licensed person to transport a body and to obtain the necessary permits. Funeral directors are among those so licensed and are the only ones permitted to do so in some jurisdictions. Normally, the funeral director performs the same professional functions regarding cremations as in any other service. In some areas funeral directors operate crematories in conjunction with their funeral homes.
Is embalming necessary?
No, but the factors of time, health and possible legal regulations and religious beliefs might make embalming prior to cremation either appropriate or necessary. As a point of information, heart pacemakers or similar devices should be removed, because they may become dangerous when subjected to the extreme heat of the the cremation chamber.