An easy guide to cremation
When someone passes away, there are choices to be made about how the body will be handled and whether the body will be cremated or buried. In this article, we explain the history of the practice of cremation, outline how present-day cremations are done and give some details about the costs involved to pay for a cremation.
What is cremation?
Cremation is a method which a deceased person’s body is burnt inside a specially designed furnace. Once the casket and body have both completely burnt, which is the cremation process, the furnace is then allowed to cool down. The ashes from the furnace are collected and provided to the family or friends of the deceased person.
What is the history of cremation?
There is evidence to suggest that people have been burning dead bodies as far back as 7000 BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans used cremation as a ritual funerary practice. As Christianity became more widespread throughout Europe, burial became the preferred process. The Catholic Church banned cremations in the middle ages, but today it is no longer forbidden by the church. In the late 1800s, an Italian professor named Brunetti designed a special furnace for cremation and since then there has been an increase in the number of cremations in the western world.
Which cultures and countries cremate their dead?
India has one of the highest cremation rates in the world because Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists all cremate their dead. The cremation rate in Japan is nearly 100% and the cremation rates are high in South Korea, Taiwan and Nepal. Cremation is less common in African countries. The cremation rate in America has increased over the last decades and was at more than 50% in 2018.
Cremation versus a burial
When a death occurs, deciding between a burial and cremation is one of the biggest decisions to make. With a burial, you select an appropriate plot or burial site . The body decomposes in the soil and is placed into the ground. However, following a cremation there is no site or memorial, you are left the person’s ashes
How is a body cremated?
Before the cremation, staff members will ensure that the body is correctly identified and that all necessary paperwork and authorizations are in place. Jewelry is removed and the body is respectfully prepared for the cremation process. It is then placed into a casket or container and placed into the chamber big enough for only one body. The temperature is usually around 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. The whole process can take up to two hours.
When is a body cremated?
A cremation usually takes place within the first two weeks following a death. This will vary with regard to the unique circumstance of the person’s passing. It may take longer when death was not expected, and laws also vary between states. Your funeral director will assist with the required documentation. If a funeral service is to be held, the cremation may occur later the same day or within the following day or two.
Once the cremation has been completed, the ashes are usually collected and passed on to the deceased person’s family or friends. There are options provided in what you collect the ashes in. Most commonly, an urn is selected to hold and store the ashes. Cremation urns come in a huge variety of styles, shapes, materials and colors. Some people keep the ashes in the urn permanently. Others use only temporary containers and go on to scatter the ashes somewhere significant or use the ashes in another way.
Unusual uses for cremation ashes include:
Earth-friendly urns that will decompose and can be buried under the ground
Cremation jewelry or artworks
Using the ashes to make ink for a "cremation tattoo"
Inserting the ashes into soft, cuddly toys
Types of cremation (water vs. burning)
A new form of cremation, called water cremation or aquamation is becoming increasingly popular. A water cremation uses a scientific process known as Alkaline Hydrolysis. A body is placed inside a stainless-steel canister which is then filled with a water and alkaline solution that breaks down and decomposes the body. The method is considered more sustainable and environmentally friendly because there is less air pollution and less carbon emissions. The process is only legal in some states of America.
Cost of cremation
Costs of a cremation will vary depending on the container that is used the casket that is selected and what the ashes are going to be stored in. If the cremation takes place at a funeral home, you don't need to have a funeral service at the funeral home. The average cost for a cremation is anywhere from $2500 - $5000, while the cost of an urn can be anywhere up to $2000. If you are having a funeral service, you can expect to pay a further $7000- $12000. Cremation is cheaper than burial.
Memorials for a person who has been cremated
With a cremation, because there is no grave or tombstone, some people are upset by the thought that there is no significant place they visit. But there are many ways that a special place can be created. For example, you might plant a tree in a garden or park. You may choose to scatter the ashes at a special place that can go on to become a place for quiet and reflective visits. Some cemeteries also have memories walks, garden and walkways where the name of your loved one can be inscribed in stone or on a plaque.
Online memorial following cremation
Another contemporary way to create a place for remembering a loved one is to create an online memorial. Your special place for remembering doesn’t have to be a physical one. With Memories you can create a permanent online tribute for your loved one. Family and friends worldwide can log on and enjoy the unique photographs and videos you have added to your tribute. You can have access to the website from your mobile device or laptop, and in this way, the memories can always be with you.