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Part of making funeral arrangements on behalf of a loved one involves choosing between burial of the body, or cremation. Certainly this is a big decision, based on any number of factors: religious or spiritual beliefs, finances, or ecological awareness are just some of the reasons we've heard for choosing cremation. Before you can make the choice, you need to know exactly what it is you're considering. You can learn the basics of what is cremation below, however, if the content here raises additional questions for you, please give us a call at (705) 673-9591. One of our cremation specialists will address any of your inquiries or concerns.
As we said earlier, people choose cremation over burial of casketed remains for any combination of reasons. Sometimes it's the simple fear of burial itself, which may stem directly from the Victorian phobia of being buried alive. Or it could be they are uncomfortable with the very idea and imagery of physical decomposition.
According to Wikipedia, cremation dates back at least 20,000 years ago in Australia, while in Europe, there is evidence of cremation dating to around 2,000 B.C. Cremation was common in Ancient Greece and Rome, and it remains a standard practice in India. The practice of cremation faded in Europe by the fifth century and during the Middle Ages, it was primarily used in the punishment of heretics or in response to the fear of contagious diseases. Today, cremation is preferred by more and more people around the world.
Traditional cremation is the process of reducing a body at very high temperatures until it is nothing but brittle, calcified bones. These are then processed into what we commonly call ashes. Returned to the family in a temporary urn (or a more personal urn selected by the family), these ashes can be kept, buried, or scattered. Some families even choose to place a loved one's cremated remains in a hand-crafted piece of cremation art.
Author Michelle Kim, in How Cremation Works, details the cremation process: "In modern crematories, the body is stored in a cool, temperature-controlled room until it's approved for cremation. The body is prepared by removing pacemakers, prostheses and silicone implants. The body is then put into a container or casket made out of flammable materials such as plywood, pine or cardboard."
The container is placed in the retort or cremating chamber. It takes anywhere from two to three hours to reduce an average adult to ash. When the cremated remains are cooled, they are processed to a uniformly-sized pebble-like substance and placed in an urn. The funeral director then returns the cremated remains to the family.
Cremation typically costs one-third of the cost of a traditional burial. While it's true that cost is a big factor for many families, it's important to remember that cremation is only one part of providing meaningful end-of-life care for a loved one. Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is important and can be achieved with a memorial service. Bringing family and friends together provides everyone with the opportunity to share memories and receive support.
Once the cremation-over-burial decision has been made, all that's required is authorization. This is provided by the person who is the legally identified or appointed next-of-kin. Once all authorization documents are signed, and service charges are paid; the body can be transported from the place of death to the crematory and the cremation process can take place. However, there are some additional things you may wish to consider, such as:
We encourage open dialog about all end-of-life issues, and sincerely hope you reach out to us to dig deeper into the topics related to cremation and burial. Still wondering "how does cremation work?", Call us today at (705) 673-9591 to ask a question or to set an appointment (either in your home or our office). We look forward to the conversation.
What is Cremation, Cremation Association of North America