Cremation is an increasingly popular option for many people, serving as an alternative to burial. Reasons for preferring cremation vary. Some religions request it, while other people consider it more environmentally conscious. Some may simply like the idea of cremation more. During cremation, the remains are placed in a special furnace and reduced to resemble coarse sand. Cremation is not an alternative to a funeral, but rather an alternative to burials.
Cremated remains can be scattered, buried, placed in a columbarium or they may be kept with the family in a decorative urn. There are also many unique ways to use cremated remains: they can be placed in an artificial coral reef in the ocean; they can be launched into space or sent up in helium balloons; they can be spun into glass pieces of art or diamonds.
Some religions welcome cremation, while others forbid it. The Catholic Church had previously banned cremation up until 1963, and burial remains the preferred form of disposition today. In other Christian denominations, cremation was historically discouraged but is now more widely accepted. In eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, cremation is preferred. In Islam, it is strictly forbidden. Orthodox Jews also forbid cremation, while other sects of Judaism support cremation; however, burial remains the preferred option.
Prior to the cremation, the family may wish to have a time of visitation and viewing to pay their final respects and say a final farewell. We heartily suggest that you have a funeral or memorial service, because your need for such a healing experience is not lessened by the decision to be cremated.
What is cremation? Cremation is the process of reducing the human body using high heat and flame. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service.
Is a casket needed for cremation? No, a casket is not required, however an alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard is required.
Is embalming required prior to cremation? No, however it may be highly recommended if family and friends wish to view their loved one.
Can the body be viewed without embalming? Yes, it is usually possible for only immediate family members to view their loved one prior to cremation.
Can an urn be brought into church? Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. Including cremated remains as a part of the funeral provides a focal point for the service.
What can be done with the cremated remains? While laws vary, for the most part, remains can be buried in a cemetery plot or in a cremation garden, interred in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains? All reputable cremation providers have developed rigorous sets of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error. Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation at a time, it is next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains.
What do the cremated remains look like? Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average sized adult usually weigh between 7 and 8 pounds.
Do I need an urn? An urn is not required by law. An urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary container.