Cremation and Urns

What Is Cremation?

The practice of cremation dates back to ancient times. Today it is more common in western Europe and Japan then in the United States and Canada. However, the number of people in the U.S. and Canada selecting cremation as the form of final disposition had risen significantly during the past few years.

Since you're thinking about cremation, you may want to know more about the process and the many services available to you. It is simply the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat. Over a period of two to three hours the body is transformed to a state of small skeletal fragments, not fine ash as some people believe. The cremated remains of an average adult weigh from three to seven pounds. They are generally placed in a small cardboard box or other temporary container by the crematory until the decision as to final disposition of the cremated remains is decided.

Can There Be Service Or Ceremonies When Cremation Is Chosen?

Certainly. Cremation does not limit your choices, but increases the options available to you. It in now way eliminates a funeral.

Optional services or ceremonies may precede or follow the actual cremation. Prior to the cremation there may be a visitation and/or funeral ceremony with the casketed body present. If a ceremony or service is conducted following cremation, the receptacle containing the cremated remains may take a place of prominence. This receptacle is most commonly an urn, which is taken to its final resting place following this ceremony.

Regardless of the order of events, it is for the benefit of the living that arrangements for a ceremony are made.

Viewing the body of the deceased can help bereaved persons begin to overcome grief by more readily accepting the fact that a death has occurred. Funeral ceremonies also have value in offering family and friends and opportunity to honor their loved one.

Today, funeral arrangements are as individual as the persons for whom and by whom they are made. A ceremony may be individualized to reflect a specific interest or hobby of the deceased. It may highlight one's occupation or ethnic background and therefore, hold special meaning for those present.

The funeral ceremony is not unlike other ceremonies that distinguish our lives. Baptisms, graduations, weddings and such all serve to recognize a significant event in a person's life. The funeral ceremony likewise recognizes the final event in a person's life and offers loved ones a chance to say a last goodbye.

What Choices Are Available For Final Disposition Of Cremated Remains?

The decision regarding final disposition of cremated remains is usually influenced by the type of memorialization desired. Just as ceremonies offer value to the living, so does establishing a permanent memorial. It serves as a focal point for the remembrance of a loved one and can help in overcoming grief.

Usually cremated remains are placed in some type of permanent receptacle or memorial urn before being committed to a final resting place. The urn can be buried in a family plot or urn garden, where a marker or headstone may be used to mark the site. Sometimes the urn is kept in the home. The urn can also be placed in a memorial niche at a cemetery, where it may be viewed through a protective glass or sealed behind a memorial plaque.

Some cemeteries have special gardens where cremated remains may be scattered. In areas wher it is permitted by law, cremate remains may be scattered over land or water. However, this decision should be carefully considered. Although the act of scattering over land or water may have some romantic appeal, it is an irreversible decision. If no permanent memorial site is established, survivors may later experience regret, feeling that the bond is forever broken. The emotional value of establishing a permanent memorial site is worthy of consideration. It might also be possible to plant a tree of flowers in a significant place to serve as memorial to the loved one who died.

What Costs Are Involved?

Costs vary somewhat from region to region and according to the type of services that are used. Funeral services are like anything else; the more elaborate the arrangement, the more they will cost. They can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Local customs which affect demand for the availability of facilities and services have an influence on cost.

Other factors affecting cost include the type of service or ceremony conducted, the choice of cremation casket or container, the selection of a memorial urn and the form of memorialization.

Most crematories require a closed container to protect the health of operators and for the dignity of the deceased. There are many cremation caskets and containers from which to choose. A popular choice is a hardwood casket, suitable for cremation and for ceremonies prior to the cremation. In some areas, where accepted by the crematory, metal caskets are chosen as well. In addition to fine hardwood and metal caskets, minimum containers made of cardboard or particle board are also available. Cremation caskets and containers costs will vary according to the materials used and designs selected. Likewise, memorial urns will vary in cost. Urns are made from a variety of materials including bronze and various species of wood. Occasionally, other materials are used, such as ceramic.

All aspects of funeral arrangements are a combination of personal preference and financial circumstances. Your funeral service professional can provide detailed information on all of the available options along with specific costs for each. He or she can also explain legal requirements and be sure all the proper forms are completed.

How Does A Funeral Service Professional Help In Making Arrangements?

A funeral service professional is trained to assist with every detail of making funeral and cremation arrangements. This includes offering advice and guidance throughout the decision-making process, answering questions about local customs and costs, assuring that legal requirements are met, and providing whatever equipment, facilities, and technical services are necessary or desired. A qualified funeral service professional is prepared to carry out the wishes of his or her clientele with understanding and consideration for everyone concerned.

When it is practical or possible, making funeral arrangements in advance can provide the peace of mind that all details have been taken care of in a way that is satisfying to oneself and one's survivors. A family discussion combined with the counsel of a funeral service professional can assure that everyone involved feels comfortable with the arrangements. Certainly we all would prefer that our loved ones be able to say afterward, "I'm glad we did" rather than "I wish we had." Preplanning can help accomplish this goal.

Today, making any kind of funeral arrangements involves many choices and decision It is helpful to consider all the options and take time to ask questions before making final decisions about such an important event. It is the intent of the funeral service professional to help make the entire experience as positive as possible.

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