Questions About Cremation
The following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cremation.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is a process to prepare a deceased human person for final disposition by reducing them to bone fragments and skeletal particles through intense heat and flame. Cremation is a two-step process. After this first step has taken place, a person’s remains, mainly bone fragments and skeletal particles, are gathered and these remains are placed in a processor, creating a uniform powder-like texture. Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin. In Illinois, at least 24 hours must pass before cremation may be authorized.
We own and operate our Cremation Center, so your loved one never leaves our care. Our facility is always open for your inspection.
Is a casket required?
No. For sanitary reasons, ease of placement, respect and dignity, many crematories require that the deceased be cremated in a combustible, leak proof, rigid, covered container. This does not need to be a casket as such. Cremation Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from a simple cardboard container to solid wood cremation caskets in a variety of species. These are designed with little or no metal and facilitate the cremation process while meeting the needs of survivors.
Are there special cremation caskets?
There is a choice of affordable cremation caskets that are designed to be combustible. Cremation Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from a simple cardboard container to solid wood cremation caskets in a variety of species. These are designed with little or no metal and facilitate the cremation process while meeting the needs of survivors.
Can a casket be rented instead of purchased when choosing cremation?
Many funeral homes offer a hardwood ceremonial casket for viewing or ceremonies prior to cremation. The ceremonial (or rental) casket is specifically designed to provide an aesthetically pleasing, affordable, and environmentally prudent alternative to purchasing a casket for ceremonies, which include cremation. The interior of these caskets is completely replaceable and designed for replacement between uses.
What is the Purpose of a Cremation Container?
A cremation container holds a person with dignity and respect while in our custody and is designed for the viewing of a deceased loved one. A container will also allow for ease of transport and proper placement into the cremation chamber, also with dignity and respect. A cremation container also facilitates the cremation process and allows for safe handling of an individual for our associates while in our care. A proper cremation container prevents leakage of bodily fluid. Finally, the cremation container will be used during the identification process. Because we have standards to facilitate dignity and respect, we require a cremation container.
What is the Purpose of an Urn?
An urn is a specialized container to hold a person’s cremated remains. It will keep a person’s cremated remains together and protects the integrity of the cremated remains. An urn should be unbreakable, especially if dropped. Urns can be used for the following manners of final disposition: Interment, Entombment, Scattering, or Keepsake/Memorialization.
Can I bring my own urn?
Yes. It would be advisable that you discuss this situation with your cremation provider prior to the cremation. The size of the urn will be of great importance if you plan to have your loved one’s entire cremated body included in the container. An urn is a specialized container designed to hold a person’s cremated remains with dignity and respect, and to keep them together to protect the integrity of the cremated remains. The container should not be breakable if dropped, and should be able to be sealed or fastened in some manner.
What happens during the cremation process?
The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber, where the temperature is raised to approximately 1400-1625 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours, all organic material is consumed by heat or evaporation. The remaining bone fragments are known as cremated remains. The cremated remains are then carefully removed from the cremation chamber. Any metal is removed with a magnet and later disposed of in an approved manner. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in the container (urn) selected by the family. The entire process takes approximately three-four hours. Throughout the cremation process, a carefully controlled labeling system ensures correct identification.
Are cremations done individually?
Yes. Laws require that only one person (placed in a casket or container) be cremated at a time.
When after a death can cremation take place?
Because cremation is an irreversible process and because the process itself will eliminate any ability to determine exact cause of death, many states require that the coroner or medical examiner authorize each cremation. Some states have specific minimum time limits that must elapse before cremation may take place. In Illinois, 24 hours must pass, plus all authorizations must be obtained prior to cremation.
Is embalming necessary for cremation?
No. It is your choice. It may depend on such factors as whether ceremonies selected include a public viewing with an open casket, or to enhance the “memory picture” appearance of the deceased for a private family time of goodbye; if a person is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to cremation.
Is any other preparation required prior to cremation?
It is essential that pacemakers and other medical devices (including radioactive implants) be removed prior to cremation. They may explode when subjected to high temperature, which can be hazardous to crematorium staff and equipment. In addition, any special mementos, such as jewelry, will be destroyed during the cremation process. The funeral director should remove anything you wish to keep before the casket is transferred to the crematory.
Why is refrigeration of the remains necessary?
Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin. Refrigeration is the only alternative available, other than embalming, that will retard tissue decomposition. Refrigeration is a necessity that protects family and friends, the crematory operator and the general public from potential health hazards.
Is identification necessary?
We do require that your loved one be positively identified prior to burial or cremation.
This is a required procedure to eliminate the possibility of burying or cremating the wrong individual (in the event that a person was misidentified by a hospital, nursing home, or other institution prior to being taken into our care). It also helps assure family members that there will be no unanticipated questions in the future. Our basic care ensures that your loved one is treated with dignity and respect.
We provide everyone private time to say good-bye. Our experience has shown that in most every family there are people who wish to have a private opportunity to say good-bye in a setting that allows you all to be together. You may elect to have an extended family member or trusted family friend make a positive identification of your loved one on your behalf, if you so desire.
We will ask for appropriate clothing prior to this identification period, and your loved one will be identified in the casket or other container selected for burial or cremation.
We will discuss with you the appropriate setting at our facilities for this time.
How long does it take to cremate a body?
Cremating at the optimum temperature (1,400-1,800 degrees), the average weighted remains takes 2 to 2 ½ hours. Several more hours may be required before the cremated remains are available to the family.
Is it true that the bones are crushed after cremation? I’ve heard you don’t get ashes back-what do you get?
A complete cremation is a two-step process. First, the actual exposure of the deceased to several hours of intense heat and flame; after which the remains are mostly ash except for certain bone fragments. Then, the entire remaining elements are gathered and these remains are placed in a processor, creating a uniform powder-like texture.
Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?
No, cremation is simply a method of preparing remains for final disposition.
Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I chose cremation?
It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your other ceremonial arrangements. You might, for example, have a funeral ceremony prior to cremation, a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with an urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of the cremated remains. Funeral or memorial ceremonies can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home, or other desired location.
Can we have the ceremony before or after cremation?
This is a matter of family preference. Cremation can be arranged at a time to facilitate the meeting of the needs of all surviving family members.
Can I attend the cremation?
Yes. You may attend the cremation at our Cremation Tribute Center. Our on-site crematory is capable of facilitating this attendance with dignity and respect. While the actual process of cremation is not witnessed, the placement of the individual into the cremation chamber is viewed and any ceremonies desired can be held.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremated remains can be interred in a cemetery plot, retained by a family member, scattered on private property or at a location that was significant to the deceased. It is advisable to check all regulations regarding scattering. Cremation is just one step in the commemorative process-the preparation of the human remains for memorialization.
Can I scatter the cremated remains on private property?
Yes, with the permission of the owner.
Why would I not want to scatter?
This can possibly be painful for survivors. Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into a body of water. It is advisable to discuss this with the person(s) who potentially may be charged with this responsibility. Additionally, if scattering occurs in an undeveloped area, it may be developed in the future or the land use may change, making it difficult for survivors to visit the area. This is also a consideration if you use your own private property and the property has the potential to leave your family ownership. Lastly, once scattered, the remains are not able to be collected back up.
Why is having a place to visit so important?
Because it provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. Psychologists say that remembrance practices serve an important emotional function for survivors to help begin the healing process.
Can I take the cremated remains home?
Yes. The remains are normally placed in an urn. Most families select an urn that is suitable for placement in a selected area of the home (to serve as a memorial area for remembering). Urns are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
Do all religions permit cremation?
Some religions prefer cremation; some do not recommend the practice; most permit you to choose. Should you have any questions or concerns, we will research the matter for you in a private manner.
Do all funeral homes and cemeteries have a crematory?
No, actually only a small percentage of cremation service providers own their own cremation facilities. We own and operate our own Cremation Center, so your loved one never leaves our care. Our facility is always open for your inspection.