How Does the Cremation Process Work?

In spite of the rising popularity of cremation today, many people are still confused by how it works and how this choice impacts your funeral arrangements.

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Cremation is the clean, safe process of reducing the body of the deceased to its basic elements through high heat and flame, and then processing into ashes called “cremains.” This process is performed in a cremation chamber under a carefully controlled identification system to ensure accuracy.

Cremation requires only a wood or cardboard container and no casket is needed unless a formal visitation is planned. Embalming is required prior to transporting the deceased to the crematorium. Depending upon the weight of the individual, the cremation of an average size adult takes from two to three hours.

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light gray in color. The remains of an average-size adult usually weigh between four to six pounds. You have several options for these remains: burial in a cemetery or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home in an urn or other container, or scattered in a public or private ceremony. Many families are choosing memorial jewelry or other such items in addition to these options, which allow them to carry a small bit of their loved one with them throughout their lives.

Many churches encourage families to have the urn present during the memorial service, in the same way the casket serves as the focal point for a funeral service. Nearly all Protestant churches and most Catholic churches allow the cremated remains to be present during the memorial service or mass. In fact, if the family is planning a memorial service, we encourage the cremated remains be present as it provides a focal point for the tribute.

Today, most religions allow cremation, except for Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox, and a few Fundamentalist Christian faiths. The Catholic church accepts cremation as long as it is not chosen for reasons that are contrary to Christian teachings.

While some people select cremation for economy, many choose this option for other reasons. The simplicity and dignity of cremation, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation affords in ceremony planning and final disposition all add to its increasing popularity.

To get a better understanding of the types of services cremation allows, visit our Cremation Services page.