What is involved with Cremation?

By: Todd Abell
Friday, March 10, 2017

Cremation is an option for the final disposition of a deceased person, reducing the body to ashes by a heat process.  It has been around for thousands of years. During the beginnings of cremation , the process was somewhat primitive, still obtaining the end result.  Modern times and technology have allowed a more standardized version of the process. Numerous companies manufacture Cremation chambers or retorts that reduce the amount of time necessary to complete the cremation to about 2 hours. 

Before a body can be cremated, a funeral director must first obtain authorization to cremate from the closest surviving family members(s).  The other legal documents that must be in place prior to cremation can take a few days, a week or longer.

It is not necessary to embalm a body before the cremation unless the family chooses this to be done for viewing, funeral or other personal reasons.

The cremation container/casket containing the body is placed in the cremation chamber, sometimes referred to as the retort.  The cremation chamber is lined with fire resistant bricks on the walls and ceiling while the floor is made from a special masonry compound formulated specifically to withstand the heat that will be produced during cremations.  

Temperatures within the chamber often reach the 1800°F - 2000°F range, generally taking about 2 hours for completion.

Following the cremation process, a cool down period of 30 minutes to an hour is required before the cremated remains can be handled for further processing. Once the cool down is completed, the cremains are removed from the chamber, processed and placed in a plastic bag within a temporary cremation container or an urn, provided one is furnished to the crematory. The cremains are then returned to the family.

There are many decisions to be made when selecting cremation for yourself or a family member.  Will there be a viewing for friends and family, or a private viewing for family only?  Will there be a funeral service (with the body present), or a memorial service (without the body present)?  Will the urn be displayed at a memorial service with photos and flowers? Where will the funeral or memorial service be held, church, park, arboretum, beach, or in the mountains? Will there be a reception at the funeral home or other location, without viewing, for the family to gather with friends?  Will refreshments be provided at this reception?  What will be done with the remains following the cremation? Burial in a cemetery, or at sea, scattered at a favorite location, or retained by the family in their home?   

As with services followed by burial, services followed by cremation offer many options.  If you or your family would like further information about cremation options, please feel free to contact us at Abell Funeral Home.

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