Buying any funeral service product can be confusing, and cremation services are no different. To help you make sense of the many factors that go into the decision-making process we have compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions in this cremation FAQs.
How can I be sure I am getting a reputable cremation company?
Whether you are choosing cremation services or in-ground burial, your best protection is to do research before you enter into any type of agreement. Once you start working with a company ask questions about the qualifications of their staff, their procedures, and their processes. Listen to your gut. If you are pressured to buy certain items or you feel uncomfortable with the staff, look for another provider. Remember, the FTC’s Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to provide pricing up front and over the telephone. They must also present you with a full range of options, not just the most expensive ones.
Can I still have a memorial service if I use cremation?
Absolutely! With cremation services you actually have more options that with in-ground burial. You can still have a funeral with the body on display or you can have a memorial service with or without the remains present. Keep in mind that if you have a viewing, embalming may be required. Memorial services for a cremation are extremely flexible and can be held either at a funeral home, a venue such as a house of worship, a restaurant, or some other location that has meaning to the deceased.
Do you embalm a body before cremation?
Unless you are planning to have a full funeral with the body present you are not required to buy embalming for cremation. You may not even be required to embalm with a viewing. Regulations vary state-by-state so it is best to confirm what your state requires before you commit to purchasing this service.
Will I get the cremated remains back?
Yes! When you are making arrangements for the cremation you will be asked to sign an authorization form. This form should have a place for you to record how you would like the remains returned to you. The funeral director or crematorium should be able to provide you with an estimate of how long it will take until you have access to the remains.
How can I be sure my family receives the right cremated remains?
Proper identification of the deceased is one of the most important elements of the process that takes place prior to cremation. Many facilities post their identification procedures on their websites and will provide you with written information outlining their policies. If you are working with a funeral director, he or she will go over that information with you. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the process and make sure you are comfortable with the steps that will be taken before you authorize the cremation.
What can I do with the ashes?
There are so many things you can do with the ashes of your loved ones that you are only limited by your imagination! Ashes can be buried or placed in a columbarium or kept at home. In addition to traditional urns, there are now products available that use ashes for jewelry, artwork, fireworks, and much more. Some examples of urns and jewelry can be found in our Memorial Store.
One of the most popular options is scattering the ashes at a place that had significance for the deceased. To learn more about scattering visit our “Scattering Ashes” page. If you will be transporting the ashes, you will want to make sure that you comply with pertinent regulations. We have more information regarding transporting ashes on our “Transporting Ashes” page.
Can more than one body be cremated at the same time?
No! It is illegal to perform multiple cremations at the same time.
Can our family witness the cremation?
Many cremation facilities offer the loved ones of the deceased the opportunity to witness the cremation. Policies vary from facility-to-facility so you should ask your provider what accommodations are available for viewing or taking part in the actual process of cremation.
Do I have to have a casket if I am going to be cremated?
If you are having a funeral or viewing with the body present, you will likely need a casket. That doesn’t mean that you have to buy one, though. Many facilities offer caskets for rental. You will also need an appropriate container for the body during the cremation. There are many economical options. You will likely see the term “alternate container.” This refers to a combustible, environmentally safe container that is used for the cremation.
What is done to the body before the cremation?
If you are having a funeral with the body present, the deceased will be prepared in much the same way it is for in-ground burial. It will be cleaned and perhaps embalmed. If you are having a cremation without a viewing, the body will be cleaned and medical devices removed. For example, pacemakers can explode during cremation so they are removed. Silicone implants and other prosthetics are also removed.
How long does it take to cremate a body?
The actual process of cremation normally takes about 2 hours. If you include the time to prepare the body it may be somewhat longer.
Does my religion permit cremation?
The positions of various denominations and sects vary widely. Many religions leave it up to the individual to decide. Some still forbid cremation while others mandate it. If you are trying to decide if cremation is right for you and have questions about your religion’s stance, we recommend that you consult with your pastor, priest, or spiritual advisor.
Do I have to buy an urn from the cremation company I use?
No! You are not required to buy an urn from the funeral home or crematory that you use. In fact, you are not required to purchase an urn at all. These days some people make their own container for the ashes or they purchase one of the many beautiful choices that are available online. To learn more about purchasing an urn, visit our “How to Buy an Urn” page.
How can I make sure my cremation is environmentally friendly?
The options for green cremation are growing. However, most people are still limited primarily to traditional cremation. There are a number of ways that you can help to make sure that your cremation does as little harm to the environments as possible. Choosing a biodegradable cremation container and urn are a very good ways. We offer other suggestions for reducing the footprint of cremation in our page relating to Green Cremation.