Since the beginning of recorded time the cremation process has been an accepted and honorable method of disposal of a deceased human body. Though the practice of cremation began on the battlefield in an effort to both prevent the enemy from ravaging the bodies of the fallen and to honor those who lost their lives, it has since become a time-honored tradition. Today more than 25% of all bodily dispositions are cremations. Due to the rising costs of traditional ground burials and the numerous methods of memorial services associated with cremation, the practice of cremation is said to rise to more than 46% by 2010.
Though it is difficult to contemplate the cremation process, or any burial, it is an option that many people find to be the most suitable for their loved ones. In most cases cremation is part of a loved ones final wishes and the decision to cremate has been considered. However, if the final decision of interment has not yet been made, there are some things to consider. Cremation is less costly than the traditional ground burial. Generally they tend to cost about one-fifth the amount of a traditional funeral. In addition, cremation allows surviving family members to pay tribute to the deceased in the same manner as a traditional ground burial, or pay tribute in a way that is more tailored to the deceased. The cremation process can be carried out in one of two ways. The body can be taken directly to the crematorium, or the body can be embalmed and given the ceremonial rites standard to a traditional burial, later to be taken to a crematorium. If a person chooses an indirect cremation they will be subject to most of the same expenses accrued by a traditional funeral.
The cremation process begins by having the body transferred to the crematorium. Though some people choose to purchase a casket for the transporting of their loved one to the crematorium, it is not required or necessary. This transfer only requires the purchase of an alternative container made of wood or cardboard that will be cremated with the body; some families prefer a casket that can be cremated, such as that to the left, to display at the service, and to be utilized in the cremation. Once at the crematorium there are a numerous verifications that will be completed prior to the actual cremation. The cremation process of verification involves many organizations. The Authorizing Agent or the legal representative to authorize for the cremation procedures, the medical examiner previously contacted in the death of the deceased, and the Local or Deputy Registrar of the Health Department in the relating country of death. All crematoriums verify information such as date and time of death, social security number, the name of the doctor responsible for signing the death certificate, preliminary cause of death or admitting diagnosis, and other identifying information that help to confirm the identity of the subject. However there are additional measures taken by many crematoriums to ensure that all information is verified and accurate.
Once all information has been confirmed the body of the deceased will be given an inspection to remove all personal effects. These items will be inventoried and returned to the Authorizing Agent. The body can then be place into the cremation chamber. This chamber, also called a retort, accommodates the body of one person only as it is illegal to cremate more than one person at a time. The retort is heated rapidly to between 1800 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about two hours for the human body to fully incinerate, but contrary to popular belief the body does not turn to ash. Some experts refer to the process of cremation as having two parts. The first part of the cremation process is the dissolution of the soft body tissues. The second part of cremation has to do with the incineration of the remainder of the body, namely the skeleton. When complete, what remains are bone fragments. These bone fragments are taken from the furnace and placed in another machine which crushes them to the consistency of course sand. The average amount of remains recovered from the furnace is between three to nine pounds depending on the individual.
It is at the discretion of the surviving family members whether or not they choose to be present for the cremation process. Most crematoriums will allow the family to be present during the actual cremation, and have a separate but adjoining room specifically customized for the needs of family members. After the cremation process the family is presented with the remains of the deceased enclosed in a temporary corrugated or wooden box. It is at this point when the remains can be placed in another container chosen by the family members. There are thousands of different types of urns available depending on how and where the remains will be placed. Some families will choose to place the remains of their loved one in one urn to be taken home. At other times the family will opt to have a small amount of the remains placed in a few or several smaller cremation vessels to be distributed to other family members. Cremation jewelry has become widely used in paying tribute to our loved ones, and is available in any material and any form someone wishes. There are even different ways that a small part of the remains can be used to create both functional and non-functional artwork. The cremation sundial below is just one of many unique keepsakes that can be created to keep the memory of a loved one alive for the ages.
Another type of urn that is becoming very widely used by families who choose the cremation process is the biodegradable urn. Biodegradable urns are made of materials that will readily dissolve in water or completely disintegrate over a short period of time. These types of urns provide adequate containment for remains that are intended for dispersing while affording pleasing forms that apply to any method of burial or scattering. Made from everyday materials, biodegradable urns tend to be less expensive than traditional urns. This feature makes them an appealing choice to those who have this decision to make.
The choice of whether or not to have a loved one’s body submitted to the cremation process is a personal one and can only be made by those that knew the deceased best. If it is a method of service that might be suitable for your loved one it is important to fully understand what steps are taken during the process. The cremation process may seem unorthodox at first glance but are, in fact, quite straightforward and uncomplicated. They provide our loved ones with the utmost respect and dignity, and allow those who are suffering to find some closure in the process of releasing the physical ties that remain after. Many consider cremation a form of liberating their loved ones as it does not confine their physical bodies to the earth. In whichever manner it is thought of, cremation process is an alternative to the traditional ground burial, and provides a valuable service to those that have lost a loved one.