If you’re considering cremation, you may have questions and/or concerns about the process. While different states have different laws and guidelines associated with cremation, here is some helpful information regarding the process itself, including special requirements and other guidelines.
Definition, Rules and Requirements
Cremation is simply the process of taking a human body and reducing it to bone fragments, by use of extreme heat and flame. Cremation only defines the simple process of transforming the human body into cremains. It does not include any type of memorial service or disposition of the remains.
Requirements vary by state. A casket is not required for cremation, and in some states, no container is required to be cremated with the body. However, many states do require a container made of wood or cardboard to be cremated with the body.
Embalming is also not required prior to cremation, and if you choose not to embalm a body prior to cremation, many cremation service providers will still allow immediate family members to view the body before it is cremated, with some time constraints. Some cremation providers will even allow family members to witness the cremation process. Because many religions consider this to be a crucial aspect of their funeral customs, it is a common occurrence.
To be sure, you’ll want to check with your chosen cremation provider to find out if this is allowed. For specific details or additional information regarding embalming and cremation in your area, you should speak with your local funeral director.
After the Cremation
By law, you do not need to put the cremated remains in an urn. It is merely a special way to store the remains if you plan to hold a memorial service, or to keep them at a cemetery or in some other special place. Remains can be delivered in a temporary container upon request.
Cremated remains do not actually look like soft ashes. Rather, they look a lot like coarse sand, and are typically a light grey/whitish color, weighing on average between four and six pounds for an average adult.
After you’ve received the remains of your loved ones, you will need to decide what to do with them.
Laws associated with scattering cremated remains vary by state, and there are also some federal laws associated with disposing of cremains.
People often keep ashes in a sacred or special container, such as an urn or keepsake, or scatter the ashes in a special place, such as in a garden, in the ocean, or on a mountain top. However, it’s important to understand the local and federal regulations regarding scattering ashes before you set out to scatter cremains.
Do All Religions Allow Cremation?
Not all religions allow cremation, but many do. The Catholic Church, for example, accepts cremation, but only if it is chosen for reasons that align with Christian teachings. In addition, the Vatican recently published new regulations with regards to storing cremains in a place acceptable to the church. You can read the updated guidelines here.