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Cremation - Frequently Asked Questions

What is cremation?

To begin with, it is probably easier to describe what cremation isn't. Cremation is not final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service. Rather, it is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.

How long does the actual cremation take?

It depends on the weight of the individual. For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees F to 2,000 degrees F.

What happens after the cremation is complete?

All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items, are "swept" into the front of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan. All non-consumed items, like metal from clothing, hip joints, and bridge work, are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn, selected by the family.

What do the cremated remains look like?

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The cremated remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds.

In what kind of container are the cremated remains returned?

The cremated remains will be placed in the urn of your choice. The funeral home has a large selection of urns available for purchase or you may provide your own container. Many families purchase multiple urns so that individual members of the family can keep a portion or so that portions may be placed in areas of significance to the deceased as well as in a cemetery. Cremation jewelry is also available so a small portion may be kept near at all times.

Are all the cremated remains returned?

With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

There are many options. Remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered on private property. If scattering is chosen, there are many options available for permanent recognition in the convenient and beautiful setting of one of our cemeteries. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you and make any arrangements.

Concerns About Cremation

Are there any laws governing cremation?

Cremation regulations vary from state-to-state.

Can two cremations be performed at once?

Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.

Can the family witness the cremation?

Yes. Our state-of-the-art cremation facility is set up to allow family members to be present when the body is placed into the cremation chamber. In fact, some religious groups include this as part of their funeral custom.

How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?

We have developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of quality and minimize the potential for human error. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process. We only allow certified professionals to operate our cremation equipment.

Listed below is our "8 Step Identification Process"

  1. Place ankle identification on deceased. If family is present, invite them to write name on tag.
  2. Deceased is placed in cremation container and the person's name is written directly on the container.
  3. Family signs an authorization for cremation, verifying the death of their loved one and giving us permission in writing to perform the cremation.
  4. The family physician, hospitalist or county medical examiner acknowledges awareness of the death and verifies cause of death or requires an autopsy or investigation. The death is recorded with the county.
  5. The death certificate and medical examiners' permits are filed with the State. Certified copies of the death certificate are available to the family and a State permit is issued, giving us the authority to perform the cremation. Only now can the cremation be performed.
  6. The cremation is logged in the record book. The name of the deceased, date, cremation chamber used, time started and operator's name are recorded and attached to the outside of the cremation chamber, along with the cremation authorization and disposition permits.
  7. Immediately following the completion of the cremation the cremated remains are placed in an urn or temporary container with the deceased's name already on the container.
  8. The cremated remains are delivered to the designated cemetery, post office or are returned to the family. The family must show picture I.D. and sign a release stating that they are taking custody of the cremated remains.

Questions About Urns, Caskets & Embalming

Do I need an urn?

An urn is not required by law but the cremated remains need to be in some sort of container to keep them intact prior to final disposition. An urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the cremated remains are to be interred in a cemetery. There are urns available specifically designed for scattering, including biodegradable urns for use in water locations.

Is a casket needed for cremation?

No, a casket is not required for cremation. All that is required by state law is a rigid container which is cremated with the body.

Is embalming required prior to cremation?

Absolutely not and it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.

Can the body be viewed without embalming?

Yes, immediate family members may briefly view the deceased prior to cremation in our private viewing room. The deceased is first washed, dressed and prepared for viewing. However, under certain circumstances embalming may be required, such as a public visitation.