What is a Cremation?
Cremation Urn

Following the death of a loved one, certain decisions need to be made for how their body will be handled and how their life will be celebrated. Some people will have instructions for their funeral and burial, but some may not. Loved ones may want to consider cremation as an alternative to a burial.

Before doing so, they may want to learn more about cremation, how it works, how much it costs, and what to expect. Read below for all of the information needed to determine if cremation is the right choice.

A cremation is where a person’s body is turned to ashes after they have passed instead of buried. The body is incinerated in a crematorium, then the cremains are returned to the family of the deceased.

Once the family has the ashes or cremains, they can place them in an urn or other container, have them buried at a memorial site, or disperse them during a special ceremony. The family can have the cremains split up so that each family member has some to remember their loved one or all of the ashes can be placed in one container, depending on the desires of the family.

How a Cremation is Done

Cremations are a simple process that takes around three hours to complete. Only one body can be cremated at a time to ensure the cremains are separated and labeled properly before being given to the family. For the cremation, any medical devices or implants will need to be removed.

Then, the body is placed in the cremation chamber, where temperatures reach above 1,400 degrees fahrenheit. Once this part of the process is done, any bones or metal fragments are removed and processed into the ashes. The remains can then be placed in an urn or a temporary container and given to the family members.

The Average Costs for Cremation

The costs for cremation are lower than the traditional funeral and burial, but the cost can still vary based on the type of cremation. There are four different types of cremations available today.

Cremation With Funeral – With this, an open casket can be used for a viewing, then the funeral will be held. This involves embalming and dressing the body, renting a casket, and then the cremation after the funeral has ended. This is the most expensive type of cremation due to the added services.

Cremation With Memorial Service – This type of cremation is a little bit less expensive because there’s no need for embalming or renting a casket. The memorial service will be held at the funeral home, but there is no open casket.

Direct Cremation – With direct cremation, there is no funeral or memorial service, so the cost is reduced. Often, family members opt for this to save money and then hold a personalized memorial service at a home, park, or another setting.

No-Cost Cremation – A no-cost cremation involves donating the body for scientific research. Once the research has been conducted, the body is cremated and returned to the family. There is no charge to the family for this, making it the least expensive option.

What Happens to the Ashes?

Once the deceased has been cremated, the loved ones receive the ashes. There are a few different ways the ashes are commonly handled once they are returned to the family.

Placing in an Urn – The ashes can be placed in an urn which can then be sealed and provided to the family members. It is possible to have the ashes split into multiple smaller urns or to place them in one larger urn the family will hold onto.

Burying the Ashes – The ashes can be interred at the cemetery, just like the traditional burial. They can be buried in the ground or placed in a columbarium.

Dispersing of the Ashes – The ashes can be dispersed by the family members at a site that has a special meaning to the deceased. There are restrictions on this in some areas, but many people do opt to spread the ashes of their loved one on a favorite trail, in the ocean, or somewhere else the loved one enjoyed.

New options are available today where the ashes can also be used to create a memorial of the loved one, either in a special photo or a piece of jewelry. Only a small amount of the ashes is needed for this, so it can be done along with one of the above options.

What is an Urn?

An urn is a special container used to hold the ashes of a loved one. Traditionally, these containers were made of ceramic, but they can be made from a variety of other materials, as well.

Today, urns can be any shape or size, can be made from wood, metal, ceramic, or stone, and can have any color or decorations added in memory of the loved one. Temporary urns are also available if the intention is to disperse the ashes so they can be held together until this is done.

Types of Urns to Choose From

There are a large variety of urns to choose from, depending on the preferences of those left behind as well as what the intentions are for the ashes. If the cremains are to be kept, it’s possible to choose eco-friendly urns, keepsake urns, or individual urns of any style.

There are also companion urns, where the cremains of two people can be kept in the same urn. Many different materials can be used to create the perfect urn for any loved one. The key is for the family members to choose one they like the look of if they’re going to keep it instead of dispersing the cremains.

Why Opt for Cremation?

Cremation is done for a variety of different reasons. Some people may request they’re cremated because they don’t want to be buried or don’t want their loved ones to spend a ton of money on the casket and burial.

Some people opt to have their loved ones cremated so they can disperse the ashes somewhere their loved one would appreciate or so they can keep the ashes and always be reminded of the person they lost.

Others may opt for cremation as a no-cost way to handle the death of a loved one and to help further scientific research at the same time. The reasons behind cremation are varied and personal, so there is no right choice.

Working With a Funeral Home

Though the body will not be buried, it is still necessary to work with a funeral home in most cases. The funeral home will arrange the cremation or, if they have the crematorium on-site, will handle the cremation.

They can also handle the funeral or memorial service, help with creating keepsakes and other items for the family, and, above all, walk the family through the process so they understand all of their options and what might work best for their situation and preferences.

It is possible for the funeral home to answer any questions the loved ones might have about the process or what they need to purchase for the cremation.

Cremation Caskets

When someone is to be cremated, they will need to be placed in a cremation casket. This is different from a standard casket, as metal objects like hinges or nails should not be placed in the chamber. Instead, these are wood or cardboard boxes designed to hold the body until it is cremated.

If the family would like to have a viewing before the cremation is done, it is recommended they rent a casket. This is done to have a casket that looks better for the viewing but to avoid having to pay the money to purchase a casket that won’t be used once the viewing is over.

Handling the Funeral

If there will be a funeral, the funeral home can talk to the family members about the various options. Though this is the most expensive type of cremation, it is often chosen because it gives family members and friends the chance to say goodbye to their loved one.

For the funeral, additional costs will include embalming the body and preparing it for the viewing, then renting the casket. Once the funeral is over, the body will be cremated and the ashes returned to the family.

If a viewing is not desired, the family members and friends can instead have a memorial service, and there is no need to pay for embalming or renting a casket. This can help save money while still ensuring everyone has a chance to say goodbye.

If you are dealing with the death of a loved one and looking into your options, take the time to speak with a funeral home today. Cremation may be an excellent option, but there are still many choices to make to ensure it is exactly what you want or what your loved one may have wanted. Use the guide here to get started thinking about the options, then contact the funeral home for the next steps.