About the cremation process
How is the actual cremation performed? What can I do with the ashes?
Today’s cremations are very dignified and respectful, and are performed under very strict regulations that protect the deceased, their families and the environment.
In the U.S. and Canada, cremations are only performed in specialized crematory facilities. Depending on the state or province, these facilities can be located in a funeral home, in a cemetery, or in dedicated crematory that provides the service for a number of nearby funeral homes.
They all operate under state and local laws that govern such things as waiting periods between death and cremation (24 to 48 hours), who can authorize a cremation, who can receive the ashes, and how the cremation must be documented and recorded.
How it’s done
Cremation is actually very precise and controlled process that involves subjecting the body to extremely high temperatures in specialized cremation chambers that carefully manage all emissions.
After about two hours or so, what remains is mostly bone fragments and minerals -- called cremated remains or ‘ashes’ -- which weigh about 5 to 7 pounds. The cremated remains are then collected and placed in a container to return to the family. Strict practices assure that the family receives only the remains of the deceased.
Ordinarily, jewelry and implanted devices such as pacemakers are removed before cremation. Artificial joints and other orthopedic elements are recycled after the cremation.
The cremated remains are usually delivered to the family in a simple, temporary container about the size of one-gallon milk carton.
What can be done with the ashes?
Depending on the preferences of the family, or the deceased, the cremated remains (or ashes) can be handled any number of ways.
The ashes can be scattered in a place that was special to the deceased, such as a beach, a meadow, a forest, a park, the ocean, a lake or stream, or even dropped from the air, or scattered from a boat. There are firms who can arrange for scattering services at many different locations.
Note however, there may be local laws governing the scattering of ashes. And recognize that the remains amount to slightly more than a 5 lb. bag of flour or sugar, and may actually be quite conspicuous in certain locations. It is always better to ask.
The ashes can be placed in an urn. Specialized cremation urns come in a variety of styles, materials, and shapes that can be suitable for keeping at home, installing in a columbarium, or burying in a cemetery or memorial garden.
The ashes can be buried, or placed in a mausoleum. Cremated remains (in an urn or in the crematory container) can be buried in specially designated area of a cemetery -- at much lower cost than a full cemetery plot.
Generally, an arrangement conference is scheduled where the responsible survivor and other family members meet with the funeral director to plan services, sign permission for the cremation, complete a contractural agreement and specify who is to receive the cremation ashes later. Most states and provinces have a law requiring a waiting period of twenty four or forty eight hours between the time of death and performance of the cremation. Many jurisdictions require the local medical examiner to review the death and authorize the cremation. Some jurisdictions specify payment by the family for this authorization. Your funeral home staff can advise on what to expect in your area.
Cremations are performed by a crematory operator who runs the equipment and handles documentation of the process. That person makes the final check to see that all jewelry and pacemakers are removed. Batteries in pacemakers and other medical dose dispensing devices are explosive when subjected to high temperatures.
Cremation takes about two hours. The resulting cremated remains are cooled and placed in a machine which reduces the particles to a consistency similar to a mixture of flour and sand.
Cremation ashes are packaged in a temporary container or placed in a purchased urn. They are then sent back to the funeral director or to the funeral home staff for return to the person designated to receive the cremation ashes. If services are to be held with the urn present, those ceremonies occur at the times scheduled and the designated person receives the cremation ashes afterwards.
Thank you to Cremation.com for this information.
A lot of people have been seeking information about cremation. Here is a section of a National Geographic Channel show on Death. **Warning: This video is not for everyone. But it is informational**