What is Cremation?

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What is Cremation?

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For those who experience the loss of a cherished family member or loved one, important decisions must be made regarding their final care.  This includes deciding between a traditional ground burial or a cremation.  For various reasons families may choose cremations, however they may not understand the cremation process in its entirety or the additional benefits of this funeral planning option.  When choosing a cremation funeral service, keep the following key points in mind to help make the most informed decision.

The Cremation Process

A cremation is the process of incinerating a human body at very high temperatures until the remains turn to ash.  This process is done in a cremation vault.  When cremating a human body, temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit are reached.  Prior to the cremation process, the body must be prepared for this process.  This may include removing foreign objects from the body, including metal pace makers, implants, or other prosthetics.  The body is then placed in a flammable container usually made of wood or cardboard in advance of the incineration process.  Before this can occur, sign off must be given from a medical examiner or coroner and a death certificate can be issued.  It is also important to know that each state has legislation that protects the deceased from being cremated with other remains.  This means that in between cremations the cremation vault must be thoroughly cleaned to ensure all remains have been removed.

Cremations typically take anywhere from 2-3 hours to finalize, depending on the bone mass of the deceased.  This results in is 3 to 9 pounds of cremated ashes.  Many families assume that the weight and height (body mass index or BMI) of the deceased will determine the weight of the ashes.  However, the majority of the resulting ashes are a product of bone mass.  After the incineration process, there may still be other remnants within the ashes that must be cleared.  These may include larger bone fragments, teeth fillings, or jewelry.  While the bone fragments will be ground down into ashes, the other objects will be discarded.

After the Cremation

Once the cremation has taken place, the remains will be transferred to a container of the family’s liking.  Such containers, or urns, can be provided in various shapes, sizes and materials, with many of them crafted in decorative designs.  In some instances, families may even choose to place ash remains in multiple pieces of keepsake jewelry for different family members to keep as a token of remembrance.  It usually takes 5 to 10 days for the family to receive the cremated remains.  Families will then make the best decision for next steps in the funeral planning process.  For instance, some families will have a traditional funeral and ground burial of the cremated remains.  Alternatively, they may place the urn inside of a casket with other family momentums such as photos or letters, in honor of their departed relatives.  Still others may have a memorial service and then scatter the remains at a location that honors the last wishes of the deceased such as over the ocean.  Moreover, some families may simply choose to collect the remains and take them home without a remembrance ceremony.  Each family heals differently and these unique decisions are entirely up to the family and their special circumstances.

When making the decision to have a cremation, families may choose to do so for various reasons.  These may include for religious obligations, for financial reasons or to be ecologically friendly.  No matter the reason, direct cremations are an important decision and they offer an alternative for many families in lieu of a traditional ground burial.  Prior to making this choice it is important to first understand the cremation process and what it entails.  This understanding is also an important part of the grieving and healing process as the family moves forward with celebrating the memory of their loved one.  To learn more about the cremation process or to schedule a loved one’s cremation today, contact a cremation provider near you.  A caring funeral and cremation service provider in the area can help the family plan their cremation, choose an urn or casket as well as ask any additional questions regarding the cremation process.

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