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Choosing Cremation: Navigating the Cremation Process

Choosing end-of-life services for yourself or for a loved one is a difficult task. It can be mentally exhausting, even if there are no issues among family members involved in making the decision. Add a little family drama to the mix, and things get stressful, and fast. Unfortunately, even after you’ve chosen between cremation and traditional burial services, there are additional steps involved in the process of planning for end-of-life services.

While there will be many difficult decisions to make, the process itself doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve put together a simple guide to help you navigate through some of the most common aspects of the cremation process, so you can be at ease during this stressful and emotional time.

1. Choosing the Right Cremation Provider

Before you investigate details of the cremation process, it’s important to choose a provider of cremation services that will fulfill your needs and the wishes of the deceased. One provider may be a better fit than another, and you won’t know until you do some research, including scheduling visits to the crematorium to meet with staff members and/or get a tour of the facility.

You may also want to ask others in your community for recommendations and experiences with local providers. Simply choosing a provider based on their website or other online presence, without further confirming their reputation, may lead to unanticipated issues down the line. We recently wrote a post about not-so-trustworthy cremation providers, which you may find interesting and helpful during your research process.

2. Knowing Your Cremation Options

Choosing cremation services doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t incorporate some of the more traditional and/or personalized services often associated with a funeral. Many funeral home homes and crematoriums today are willing and able to provide customized services to meet your needs and wishes, including the utilization of an officiant to perform services, for example. Gatherings or viewings may also still be held for family and friends before the cremation is performed, if that is your wish. In fact, incorporating such services prior to the cremation is becoming more and more popular.

Some of the more common cremation services offered include traditional cremation, direct cremation, and memorial services. Many cremation providers will also work with families to build cremation packages specifically for veterans. Be sure to ask any potential provider what types of cremation packages are available, services included, pricing, and more.

3. Pre-, During and Post-Cremation Process

Prior to the cremation process, it’s crucial that the deceased is properly identified and documented, to avoid any issues with misidentification after the cremation. You will need to choose a cremation container of some sort, and refrigerated space should be reserved for the cremations at your provider’s facility. Your cremation provider should have a reliable tracking system in place to save all of the deceased’s personal information, and a medical examiner should carefully review the necessary records and forms to identify any possible issues before the cremation takes place. You can see our 10-Step Cremation Process as an example.

The date and time of the deceased’s cremation process should be recorded accurately, and all cremation remains should be properly cooled and processed before they are placed into an urn or other cremation container of your choice, with proper identification included. Family members can then pick up the cremains at an agreed upon date and time. Each step of the process, from beginning to end, should be carefully and accurately noted and stored in a tracking system for proper record keeping.

4. When and Where to Scatter Cremains

There is no specific time period or limit when it comes to disposing of cremated remains. Rather, they may be disposed of or dispersed when the time feels right for you. Some families choose to scatter or bury ashes years after cremation, while others may want to do it much sooner. It is all dependent upon your preferences.

Different states and common areas of a state have different laws and/or strong suggestions for where and how to scatter or bury ashes appropriately. We recently wrote a post about scattering ashes in the state of New Hampshire, which you may find useful when choosing the best place to memorialize your loved one.

For additional information about the cremation process, cremation services available, pricing, or have related questions, contact Phaneuf today.

Preplanning your final arrangements ensures that your family understands your final wishes and alleviates a great deal of stress.

  • Kyle Winters Reply July 11, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    I do like that the article takes some time to go over the fact that many funeral homes still allow for traditional services even if you’ve chosen cremation. There are just too many people that think, once you’ve chosen cremation, you’re thrown into an oven and that’s it. However, as the article points out, it is still highly possible and encouraged to hold viewings and funeral services before having the body cremated.

  • Rachel Lannister Reply July 13, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    In the article you wrote that with cremation, you should scatter remains where and when it works best for your family. I’d heard that many were choosing to go with the cremation route and I was curious as to why they would choose that. With that flexibility, you could make sure all the family is there and do it in a way that best respects your loved one.

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