Frequently Asked Questions about Cremation
What is Cremation?
Cremation is final disposition of the remains. It is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.
Is a casket needed for cremation?
No, a casket is not required for cremation. All that is required by state law is an alternative container.
Is embalming required crior 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. The deceased is first washed, dressed and prepared for viewing. Refrigeration is used instead of embalming.
Is cremation accepted by all religions?
Today most religions allow cremation except for Orthodox and Conservative Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox and a few Fundamentalist Christian faiths. The Catholic Church accepts cremation as long as it is not chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teachings. Some people believe that cremation is against the teachings of the Bible, but according to one famous Biblical scholar, "what occurs to the body after death has no bearing on the soul's resurrection. The body that rises is not made of the same substances as the one that was buried, or cremated, but is immortal and incorruptible."
Can an urn be brought into church?
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. The Diocese of New York, which has juridiction over all Catholic Churches in our area, also allows the cremated remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. In fact, if the family is planning on a memorial service, we encourage the cremated remains be present as it provides a focal point for the service.
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. We also offer ocean scattering. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you and make any arrangements.
Are there any laws governing cremation?
Cremation regulations vary from state-to-state. In New York, there are several laws which the consumer should be aware. A cremation authorization form and designation of intentions must be signed by the individual legally authorized to make the cremation arrangements.
Do people choose cremation only to save money?
While some people select cremation for economy, many choose this option for other reasons. The simplicity and dignity of cremation, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation affords in ceremony planning and final disposition all add to its increasing popularity.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
The crematory we use has developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of service and minimize the potential for human error. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process using a unique stainless steel ID tag system.
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 back of the 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.
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.
What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to six pounds.
Are all of 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.
Do I need an urn?
An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased through us, or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary cardboard container.
Explaining Cremation to a Child
Children and Death
The death of a family member or friend not only affects adults, but also can have a profound impact on children. Children experience grief just as adults do. Child experts say that even before children are able to talk, they grieve when someone loved dies. And these feelings about the death become a part of their lives forever.
It is important to remember that children deal with death differently at different ages and that their reactions are not always obvious or immediate. A child at two or three years of age has little understanding of the meaning of death while one who is eight or nine has a capacity to grasp life’s mysteries and will remember the experience vividly. The level of a child’s emotional development should be taken into consideration by the adult before talking to the child about death or death-related topics.
Adults who are willing to talk openly about the death of a loved one help a child understand that grief is a natural feeling when someone has died. A child needs adults to confirm that it’s all right to be sad and to cry; that the hurt they feel now won’t last forever.
Answering a child’s questions
Caring parents can help a child during a time of loss by being open, honest and loving and by responding to his or her questions in a way that shows they care.
When answering a child’s questions, adults should keep in mind the following:
- Tell a child only what he or she is capable of understanding. There is no need to be evasive, but modify explanations to what the child can comprehend. A too complicated reply often confuses a child.
- Use language that the child can understand.
- What is said is important, but the manner in which it is said has even greater significance. Be aware of voice tone. Try to answer the questions in a matter-of-fact way without too much emotion.
- Remember that what is communicated without words can be just as meaningful to a child as what is actually said.
It is not unusual for a child to ask the same question again and again. Repeating questions and getting answers help the child understand and adjust to the loss of someone loved.
When a deceased family member or friend is to be cremated or already has been cremated, your child may want to know what cremation is. In answering your child’s questions about cremation, keep in mind the guidelines that have already been outlined in this leaflet. Keep your explanation of what cremation involves simple and easy-to-understand.
In explaining cremation to your child, avoid words that may have a frightening connotation such as “fire” and “burn”. Instead, in a straight-forward manner, tell your child that the deceased body, enclosed in a casket or container, is taken to a place call a crematory where it goes through a special process that reduces it to small particles resembling fine gray or white sand. Be sure to point out that a dead body feels no pain. Let your child know that these cremated remains are placed in a container called an urn and returned to the family. If cremation has already taken place and the container picked up, you may want to show it to the child. Because children are curious, your child may want to look at the contents. If your child makes such a request, look at them yourself first so that you can describe what they look like. Share this with your child. Then let the child decide whether to proceed further.
If possible, arrange for a time when you and your child can be with the body before the cremation is carried out. If handled correctly, this time can be a positive experience for the child. It can provide an opportunity for the child to say “goodbye” and accept the reality of death. However, the viewing of the body should not be forced. Use your best judgment on whether or not this should be done.
Depending on the age of your child, you may wish to include him or her in the planning of what will be done with the cremated remains. Before you do this, familiarize yourself with the many types of cremation memorials available. Some of the many options to consider include burying the remains in a family burial plot, interring them in an urn garden that many cemeteries have, or placing the urn in a columbarium niche. Defined as a recessed compartment, the niche may be an open front protected by glass or a closed front faced with bronze, marble, or granite. (An arrangement of niches is called a columbarium, which may be an entire building, a room, a bank along a corridor or a series of special indoor alcoves. It also may be part of an outdoor setting such as a garden wall.) Although your child may not completely understand these or other options for memorialization, being involved in the planning helps establish a sense of comfort and understanding that life goes on even though someone loved has died.
If you incur any difficulties in explaining death or cremation to your child, you may wish to consult a child guidance counselor who specializes in these areas.
When a child asks questions about cremation, adults should be prepared to answer.