The Cremation Process
Cremation has been a part of the human death experience for a very long time. If you would like to understand more about the cremation process we invite you to read this section for an accurate understanding.
How Does Cremation Work?
There are a lot of myths surrounding how cremation works. However, we have describe the true process of cremation below.
Once the deceased arrives at the crematory the individual is identified and a strict chain-of-custody is established to ensure the body remains accurately tracked and identified throughout the entire cremation process. In fact, a metal identification tag is added to the body and stays with the remains throughout the process. The next of kin must sign appropriate paperwork to authorize the cremation and begin the process.
The process starts with the cremation operators removing any jewelry, medical devices (i.e. pacemakers), prostheses, and implants. The body is then placed in a container made from wood or heavy cardboard. Today, the cremation process utilizes a specialized large furnace referred to as a retort, fueled by either propane or natural gas. The retort reachs temperatures between 1400 and 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat reduces the body so essentially, the cremation process just quickens the natural process of decomposition that occurs when the body is buried. What would take months or even years to occur naturally, cremation accomplishes within 2 to 2.5 hours.
Once the cremation is complete, the bone fragments must be cooled before handling. What remains is then put into a special processor designed to pulverize the bone fragments to a finer consistency. This material, commonly known as "ashes", is then placed inside a plastic bag within a temporary plastic or cardboard cremation container. The ashes are then safeguarded at the crematory until the next of kin is ready to pick them up.
Cremation typically costs one-third of the cost of a traditional burial. While it's true that cost is a big factor for many families, it's important to remember that cremation is only one part of providing meaningful end-of-life care for a loved one. Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is important and can be achieved with a memorial service. Bringing family and friends together provides everyone with the opportunity to share memories and receive support.
Steps of Cremation
Below we give you some insight into the steps taken during the process of cremation. Some steps may differ in terms of the exact service you choose especially if you wish to have a memorial service, but this helps give you an idea of what to expect from us.
Pick-up & Transportation
The local pick-up and transportation of the deceased to our facility.
The completion and filing of all legally-required documents, including the death certificate and authorization for cremation.
Our cremation operators handle the body with care and follow strict practices during the cremation process.
Safeguarding the Ashes
We safeguard your loved one’s ashes until you are ready to receive them.
**If you wish to hold a celebration of life or memorial service for your loved one, that can take place before or after the cremation process. It is common for families to hold a service weeks or even months after their loved one has been cremated, to allow for time to plan.
What is Required to Arrange for Cremation?
Once the cremation-over-burial decision has been made, all that's required is authorization. This is provided by the person who is the legally identified or appointed next-of-kin. Once all authorization documents are signed, and service charges are paid; the body can be transported from the place of death to the crematory and the cremation process can take place. However, there are some additional things you may wish to consider, such as:
Is there a special set of clothes (such as a military uniform or favorite dress) your loved one would appreciate the thought of wearing? This will be a focus of the cremation arrangement conversation, and you will be advised by your funeral director as to your best options regarding jewelry or other valuable personal items.
Are there any keepsake items you'd like to include in their cremation casket? Perhaps there's a special memento, such as a treasured photograph or letter? We sometimes suggest family members write cards, notes or letters to their deceased loved one, and place them in the casket prior to the cremation.
Would you or other family members like to be present for–or participate to some degree in–your loved one's cremation? Because we know how healing it can be to take part in an act of "letting go", we welcome the opportunity to bring interested family or friends into the crematory. Please discuss your desire to participate with your funeral director.
What will you keep the cremated remains or ashes in after the cremation or the service? Many families are simply unaware that they can purchase a cremation urn to be placed in a special place such as the family home. We offer a large selection of urns that will help memorialize your loved one. Ask one of our caring funeral director's to see the wide variety of urns.
Spend Time with Us
Sit down with us to discuss how cremation works and what your options are. We appreciate the opportunity to share our insights and experience to fully support you in making end-of-life decisions for you and your family. Call us at 313-881-8500 to schedule an appointment or drop by our office.
Davis, Douglas and Lewis Mates, editors, Encyclopedia of Cremation, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005
Raymond, Chris, "What is Direct Cremation?", About.com, accessed 2014