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Cremation Questions and Answers
Q: I understand that more and more people are choosing cremation. Is this because the cost is lower?
A: While it is true that the cost of cremation is about 20% that of body burial, surveys indicate many people are choosing and planning cremation because of other factors. These include the simplicity and dignity of cremation services, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation offers in ceremony planning and in the disposition of the remains.
Q: Exactly what happens at the crematory?
A: The deceased is placed in a combustible box, which is used during refrigerated storage, and then placed intact in the cremation chamber. After cremation the remains are processed further by pulverization and then placed in the desired container. Family or clergy can choose to receive the cremated remains at the crematory or some other designated place.
Q: If cremation is chosen, must a funeral home be called at the time of death?
A: No. It is not necessary in most states to engage the services of a separate funeral home.
Q: What happens to medical devices such as hip implants and pacemakers?
A: Large fragments of metal that can readily be separated from the ashes are removed prior to pulverization. Pacemakers and implanted measured dose dispensing devices have an explosive risk, and are removed prior to cremation. Donated organs are removed according with the guidelines established by the medical facility.
Q: Is the deceased person cremated unclothed?
A: The deceased may be clothed as desired by the family. A military uniform, scholastic robe, or other special garment may be cremated. Often the special clothing is neatly folded and cremated with the deceased.
Q: Does a body have to be embalmed before cremation?
A: Embalming is a practical necessity only if there is a public viewing or a funeral with the body present. Most states do not require embalming.
Q: What do cremated remains that are returned to the family look like?
A: The quantity of cremated remains of an adult is comparable to the size of a 6 inch x 6 inch x 6 inch box or a large dictionary. The appearance resembles crushed seashells. Unless otherwise specified by the family the remains are returned in a plain temporary container. This container should not be used for permanent disposition of the cremated remains.
Q: If my family knows I want cremation, is that all I need to do in advance?
A: No. Just stating your wishes will not necessarily assure their being honored. To assure your wishes will be honored and to prevent your survivors from having to make decisions and arrangements at the time of your death, you can choose a cremation provider and prearrange your cremation. The cremation provider can also keep the personal data and authorizations which will be required for your death certificate, so that your survivors will not have to be asked for this information during an emotional time. You may also prepay the expenses of your cremation if allowed by state law.
Q: What advantage would there be in prepaying my cremation cost?
A: There are two major advantages of prepayment. First, you may be offered a discounted price and an inflation proof contract. This means that no further money will be due at any time. This financial advantage also will prevent your survivors from having to pay for your last expenses at a time when circumstances, such as a catastrophic illness, might have reduced their ability to pay without hardship. The second advantage is not related to cost. It has to do with the desire that many people feel the necessity to be independent and to take care of their own needs without placing the burden on others who will be grieving the loss of a loved one. This consideration also applies to people who feel it is likely that at the time of death, they will have no family members to take care of their final arrangements.
Q: My family may be willing to accept my plans for cremation, but they would like me to have a funeral service with the body present. Is this possible?
A: Yes, if such a funeral is desired, the deceased can be embalmed and placed in a ceremonial casket. With cremation the full funeral can be held without the expense of purchasing a casket or vault.
Q: If I don’t have a funeral with the body present, I would still like to have some sort of ceremony so that family, friends, and associates can gather to commemorate the event. What are my choices?
A: Cremation offers a wide array of ceremonies to choose from. A private or public visitation can be held before cremation is done. A memorial service can be held in a place of worship or at the cremation provider’s facility, with or without the cremated remains. This can be delayed as long as necessary after the death to allow family and friends to gather from distant locations. Some churches and retirement communities routinely handle these memorial services themselves, without the involvement of the cremation provider. Other possibilities include graveside services a the cemetery or columbarium. A scattering ceremony offers a personal touch only cremation can provide.