Cremation is a disposition chosen by people because of religious beliefs, personal preference, re-located family members, or requests by the deceased. Cremation is not an alternative to a funeral or memorial, but rather another option for disposition, such as burial or entombment.
The remains are placed in a rigid container that is combustible and placed in a special furnace called a cremation chamber or a crematory where through intense heat is reduced to bone fragments that are then crushed and pulverized to resemble course sand. The cremated remains of an average adult body will weigh about 7-8 pounds. Cremated remains can be buried, scattered, or kept with the family in an urn. There are many new and different ways to inurn ashes today.
Some religions welcome cremation while others forbid it. The Catholic Church had banned cremation up until 1963, and burial remains the preferred form of disposition today. In other Christian denominations cremation was historically discouraged but nowadays it is more widely accepted. In Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism cremation is mandated, while in Islam it is strictly forbidden. Orthodox Jews also forbid cremation; other sects of Judaism support cremation, but burial remains the preferred option.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service.
Is a casket needed for Cremation?
No, a casket is not required. Most states require a rigid alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard. Many families choose cremation including a standard wooden casket, or a specialized cremation casket, which are allowable for cremation as well.
Is embalming required prior to cremation?
No, it is not.
Can an urn be brought into church?
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. It is encouraged that cremated remains be a part of a funeral as it provides a focal point for the service. Cremated remains should be treated just like a body would during a traditional burial service.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
While laws vary state by state, for the most part remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or a cremation garden, interred in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered. It is illegal to scatter ashes at Federal parks and waterways. Although there are no specific state laws that address this issue, the best thing to do is to get permission to do this from the landowner of the property you have in mind. Another consideration should be given to the owners of adjoining property.
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 if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary container.