When it comes to dealing with loss, the fear of the unknown can complicate things tremendously. There are certainly some mysteries surrounding death that we may never fully understand, but some facets of dying can be demystified so as to lessen any anxiety around them. One common example is that of the cremation process—something that many people don’t fully understand and are perhaps afraid of.
Choosing between cremation and burial can be difficult, but you can make a more educated decision by gaining an understanding of the cremation process. The process is outlined below, but you can also review the 10-Step Peace of Mind Cremation Process that we follow for every cremation we conduct.
A number of different processes need to be handled before an actual cremation can take place. First, any ceremonies, viewings or other rites must be performed in full. Equally important is that the necessary forms and authorizations are completed to ensure the funeral director has what they need, legally, to perform the cremation. Typically, this will be in the form of documentation provided by the funeral home, which is then signed by the family.
Next, items not intended for cremation (such as jewelry, for example) is removed from the body and set aside. While some family members may request embalming of the body prior to cremation, this is not a necessary step in the process and is typically reserved for situations where a public viewing is to take place.
The body is loaded into a “cremation casket,” which is usually constructed of either wood or a combination of plywood/cardboard for proper burning capabilities.
The process begins with the container being placed in the end of the cremation chamber, officially called the “retort,” which is lined with fire-resistant bricks. Once the body has entered the chamber, it is closed either mechanically or by hand. The machine is started and enters a warm-up cycle, which leads to the main ignitor lighting and beginning the process of cremation. The body is incinerated and reduced to bone fragments over the course of approximately 1-2 hours, with temperatures often reaching 2,000 degrees fahrenheit.
Processing is the final step of cremation, which begins after a 30-minute cool-down period after incineration is complete. The cremated remains are removed from the chamber and placed on a work table, where the crematory operator will work to remove metal debris such as surgical pins, screws, nails etc. The bone fragments are then placed in a processing container featuring motorized blades that pulverize them into a fine powder, commonly referred to either as ashes or cremains. Finally, the ashes are placed inside of a container and returned to the family. The family may choose either a nondescript cremation container or a decorative urn or keepsake.
The cremation process is completely straightforward and nothing to fear. By understanding cremation entirely, you can feel more comfortable about choosing between cremation and burial for a loved one who has passed away.