What happens during cremation?
Cremation is a process in which the deceased is placed in a special cremation chamber (retort) that reduces the body to organic bone fragments through flame, intense heat, and evaporation.
When cremation is complete, the cremated remains as well as any non-consumed metal items are swept from the cremation chamber into a cooling receptacle. Bone fragments are further reduced to granulated particles by a special machine. Although cremated remains do not have the appearance or properties of ashes, many people refer to them in this way.
Next, all reasonable efforts are made to remove to the extent practical the recoverable remains. They are then placed in a container or urn chosen by the family.
Is a casket required for cremation?
A casket is not required for cremation, but state requirements vary and may require the deceased to be held in a rigid, non-transparent combustible container, both for the dignity of the deceased as well as the health and safety of crematory operators. Cremation container choices range from fiberboard containers to handcrafted wooden caskets.
Is embalming necessary?
Embalming is not required by law but may be necessary under certain circumstances, such as a funeral with a public viewing, when the remains are to be transported from one state to another or if final disposition is delayed. Families have the right to choose funeral arrangements that do not require embalming such as arrangements without a formal viewing or ceremony.
Where is our loved one placed while awaiting cremation?
The funeral home or crematory providing services maintains the dignity of your loved one at all times. Most often, the body is placed in a cremation casket or container in a holding room or refrigeration facility before cremation. The body is cremated in this cremation casket or container.
Will our loved one be clothed during the cremation?
Your loved one may be clothed as the family desires; however, anything remaining with the body will be unrecoverable. Personal items, jewelry or clothing the family wants to save must be removed before cremation.
Can items be placed with the deceased before or after cremation?
Anything remaining with your loved one prior to cremation is unrecoverable. Items to be placed after cremation must fit in the urn selected.
How long does cremation take to complete?
The cremation process can take between 2 to 4 hours for an average size adult: it includes heating the crematory, the actual cremation, and cooling the crematory.
What do cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains are composed of skeletal fragments that resemble coarse sand; they range from light to dark gray in color. Remains of an average size adult weigh from 4 to 8 pounds.
Is cremation environmentally sound?
Scientific studies have found that cremation is environmentally sound.
Can organ donors be cremated?
Yes. Following authorization, the cremation proceeds after donated organs are removed in accordance with medical facility or donor bank guidelines.
What happens to cardiac pacemakers?
Pacemakers and some other types of medical implants are extremely hazardous when subjected to the heat of the cremation chamber, so their presence must be disclosed and they must be removed prior to cremation. If the deceased received special radioactive treatments this must also be disclosed.
What is the cost of cremation?
The cost of cremation will vary, and the total cost of the funeral service will depend on additional services and products selected by the family. Funeral homes are required to give you a written, itemized list of the costs of the services and products they offer.
Are there cremation benefits for eligible U.S. veterans?
Yes. The Veterans Administration (VA) provides a partial reimbursement of burial and funeral expenses. Contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 or go to www.cem.va.gov/faq.htm for details.
Is a permit needed for cremation?
Yes: legal authorization is required. A death certificate must be completed and filed by an attending physician, coroner or medical examiner and the person(s) legally authorized to make arrangements must sign a cremation authorization. When there is no record of the deceased’s preference for or against cremation, legal authority rests with the next of kin. Other forms that may be required can be explained by your funeral service provider.
How do we obtain the cremated remains?
Authorized persons usually can choose to receive the cremated remains at the funeral home or the crematory.
How can we know we are receiving the correct cremated remains?
Your funeral service provider can explain crematory policies and procedures to ensure correct identification of your loved one prior to and through cremation and to ensure correct identification of the cremated remains. All reputable cremation providers will strive to avoid potential human error.
How can we be sure the cremated remains are not mixed with other remains?
Under no circumstances may more than one cremation take place in the same cremation chamber. Following cremation, all reasonable efforts are made to remove all recoverable remains.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
There are many options. Your funeral service provider will have specific information about scattering options and services—both traditional and nontraditional. The remains may be buried in a cemetery plot, a dedicated urn garden or on private or public property; placed in a columbarium (a structure designed to hold urns); scattered on private or public property or at sea; or divided in different receptacles and locations for final disposition, in accordance with state and local laws.
What memorialization choices are available if cremation is chosen?
Cremation is simply another form of final disposition. Memorialization options remain just as varied as when burial or entombment is chosen instead for the final disposition. The cremation can follow traditional or nontraditional ceremonies, tributes, and celebrations with or without the body present.
Can a viewing be held if cremation is chosen?
Yes. The type of service or ceremony depends simply on the family’s preference. Embalming may be required for an extended viewing or public visitation.
Do I have to buy a casket if I have a visitation with viewing before the cremation?
When there is a visitation with viewing, the body must be placed in a container. Some funeral homes offer a ceremonial rental casket that holds a removable insert to contain the body. Following the visitation, the body is cremated in the container selected by the family.
Do I have to buy an urn for the cremated remains?
No, but it is required to place the cremated remains in some type of suitable container. When a family does not provide a container or purchase an urn through the funeral service provider, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary container only.
Are cremated remains harmful if handled?
No, cremated remains do not present any sort of health hazard.
Can cremated remains be placed in a national cemetery?
Yes. Eligible veterans, their spouses and dependent children are entitled to have their cremated remains placed at a national cemetery. National cemeteries bury or inurn remains with the same honors as casketed remains. Your funeral service provider can help with VA authorizations.
Can cremated remains be shipped by mail?
Cremated remains can be sent only via U.S. Postal Service registered mail with return receipt and must be packaged in sealed, sift-proof containers identifying the contents. Contact the post office for information about international shipping. Commercial carriers such as Federal Express or UPS will not accept cremated remains for delivery.
How can we be sure the cremation will be performed by a reputable crematory?
Choose a funeral home with a good reputation in your community—giving the same thought to this decision as when choosing an attorney, doctor or other professional. Ask about the crematory used—what are the facility’s practices and procedures, licensing and operator training requirements, frequency of inspections, and availability for visitations or tours.
Are crematories licensed by the state?
Cremation regulations and licensing requirements are regulated under NYS Department of State, Division of Cemeteries, 162 Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12231.
Is cremation accepted by all religions?
Most religions allow cremation with the exception of Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox, and some fundamentalist Christian faiths. The Catholic Church now allows cremation for reasons compatible with church teachings, but does not sanction scattering.
How can children be helped to understand cremation?
It has been noted that if you are comfortable with the concept of cremation, children will likely respond to your comfort level. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) offers guidelines to help families explain cremation to children as well as other information. Contact CANA at 1-312-644-6610 or www.cremationassociation.org/html/for_consumers.html.