Understanding Cremation Options | Disposition Options With Cremation | Cremation FAQs | Helping Children Understand Death | Helping Parents Cope With Losing a Spouse | Helping Others Experiencing Grief | Helping Teens Make Positive Choices |
We pride ourselves on the service we provide each family we serve.
Our funeral home provides a full range of funeral service options, from the traditional religious service to simple cremation. Each family is provided with the opportunity to learn about and discuss the wide variety of funeral service options available to them.
There are some issues to consider when deciding between cremation and burial. Families may encounter some discomfort with cremation and resistance
from family members for a variety of personal reasons.
Will your family be comfortable with cremation? Some family members are disturbed at the thought of death itself, much less cremation, which many perceive as a cold and uninvolved process. They may resist your wishes when the time comes. Address it with your family now if you want to be
cremated. You can put their unease to rest, and have peace of mind knowing your wishes will be carried out.
Direct cremation is another option--many people request to eliminate "all the bother of funeral services" for family members. Funeral services aren't provided for the deceased--they're there to help support and comfort the living. Take time to consider family and friends and their need to work through the grieving process before you make this decision.
Scattering requests should be given careful consideration as well. Emptying the urn of all that remains of a loved one can be a traumatic experience--carefully consider the feelings of the family in deciding whether or not to do this.
Another factor you should consider when deciding whether or not to choose cremation include the fact that crematories are operated by dedicated people with great respect for the deceased.
For purposes of safety and dignity, it's generally required that bodies are cremated in a rigid container such as a casket or other container approved for cremation.
Restrictions on cremation are different from state to state, even from one cemetery to the next. Depending on the final resting place you choose, requirements may include an urn, urn vault, and other items. Making your choices now can help your family down the road. In most cases, cremation satisfies federal clean air requirements.
You should check to ensure that all personal property has been removed from the deceased at the funeral home and returned to the family or executor unless otherwise instructed. Families should also be mindful of valuables and mementos placed with the loved one. For more on the cremation process, and what happens before, during, and after, visit the cremation process information on Funeralplan.com provided by the Cremation Association of North America.
With cremation, you actually have more choices for a final resting place than with a typical earth burial.
With interment, you can choose burial in the family plot, church garden, or other memorial site. You can also choose a columbarium, which is an arrangement of niches, indoor or outdoor, with memorial identity plaques. This is also sometimes referred to as an urn garden.
You can choose to have memorial prayers and religious rites performed at the graveside with cremation, just as you can with a typical earth burial. You can also choose to have a marker or monument as a permanent testimony to the life and the history of the deceased, and as a place of pilgrimage for loved ones to visit.
With cremation, you also have other options that aren't available with a typical earth burial.
Scattering the Cremated Remains
Options with scattering remains include scattering within a memorial garden or cemetery; with the comfort of identifying marker, plaque, or memorial book entry to memorialize the loved one; or over water or in some other site loved by the deceased.
You can also do partial scattering, in which some of the cremated remains are scattered and the rest are retained in an urn for interment.
Cremated remains can also be placed in two or more urns. This offers the comfort of interment near more than one family member when families are divided by great distances.
How is a cremation service different from a traditional funeral service?
It isn't. At least it doesn't have to be different. The extent and content of a cremation service is entirely subject to the wishes of the family. They may choose as much or as little formality as they feel they want to have, and they also have more options when cremation is chosen. Quite often a memorial service is held after cremation has occurred, or the family can gather at a convenient time for the final committal of the cremated remains.
Is a casket required for cremation?
Most crematories associated with CANA require that the body at least be enclosed and in an acceptably rigidcontainer. This container or casket must be strong enough to assure the protection of the health and safety of the operator.
It should provide a proper covering for the body and meet reasonable standards of respect and dignity. Some crematories will accept metal caskets, but most require that the casket or container be fashioned of a combustible material. The body is cremated in the same enclosure in which it arrives at the crematory.
How is cremation accomplished?
The enclosed body is placed in the cremation chamber, where through heat and evaporation it is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as cremated remains. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result, since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes--they are, in fact, bone fragments. After preparation, these elements are either placed in a permanent urn or in a temporary container that's suitable for transport.
Depending upon the size of the body, there are normally three to nine pounds of fragments resulting. Some crematories process the cremated remains, thereby reducing the space they require. Others do not alter their condition after they are removed from the chamber.
Isn't cremation an end in itself?
Some people may regard it as such, but most families feel that the cremated remains of someone they love should be afforded a resting place that can be identified by the name and dates. This is memorialization. Most families find that a memorial, regardless of size, serves a basic human need to remember and be remembered.
What choices for memorialization are available with cremation?
A final resting place for cremated remains can be provided by various means. The family may choose from a full selection of urns for permanent containment of the cremated remains. The urns may be placed in a columbarium, which is a building or structure where single niche space or family units may be selected. Niches are recessed compartments enclosed by either glass protecting the engraved urn or ornamental fronts
upon which the name and dates are featured.
Of course, family lots may be used, and cemeteries often permit the interment of more than one person in an adult space if cremation has occurred. In many cemeteries, there are also areas specifically designed for this purpose, which are called urn gardens.
What about scattering cremated remains (cremains)?
This may be legally done in most areas, but CANA members believe that in consideration of the descendants of the departed that some form of memorialization should be provided. Furthermore, there are reasons for not scattering, because it is for many a very traumatic experience. It can be soul-shaking to spill out all that is mortal of someone you have known and loved. One should realize how much is being asked of the person who is to do the scattering.
Some crematories provide scattering gardens within their dedicated property, often with the option of personal memorials. The use of dedicated property assures the site chosen will not be developed for some other use at some future time.
How does the cost of cremation differ from burial or entombment?
The basic charge for just cremation is somewhat less than traditional burial. However, with so many items of service available to the family both in the funeral service before and in the mode of disposition after, it's not possible to make an accurate comparison. Again, the family has the option to select as much or as little as they choose, and with cremation they have more options.
Is embalming necessary with cremation?
No, but the factors of time, health, and possible legal regulations and religious beliefs might make embalming prior to cremation either appropriate or necessary. As a point of information, heart pacemakers or similar devices should be removed, because they may become dangerous when subjected to the extreme heat of the cremation chamber.
Are more people choosing cremation today?
Yes, more people are choosing cremation today. The subject should certainly be resolved among family members since that determination will have to be made at the time of death. The family should visit the crematory to learn what's offered in the way of services and memorial property.
The family should get together ahead of time to decide what is best for all. Arrangements for memorialization also should be made at this time. This way, one of life's most difficult decisions need not be made alone at a time of grief and confusion.
This information was updated September, 2000.
by Karen Nilsen
STAR Class Founder for Funeralplan.com
The days surrounding a death can be a confusing and disorienting time for young children. Altered daily routines and unfamiliar sights and sounds can be difficult for them to understand and cope with. Children notice even the most subtle changes in their routines and surroundings. We must validate their feelings and encourage them to share their thoughts, fears, and observations of the events taking place around them.
Most important, I believe, is to first find out what your child already knows about death, then what they think they know, and then provide the facts in simple, honest, terms.
Explaining death to children is similar to talking to kids about sex, except that many parents find death a more difficult topic. We often use euphemisms such as "passed away" "Grandpa is sleeping," or "we lost Grandma" instead of the words "dead" and "died." These softened explanations can cause fears in a young child that they too may get lost or go down for a nap and never wake up. Or worse yet, as 4-year-old Clayton asked, “What if I go to sleep and wake up in a casket like my Grandpa?”
Children see the evidence that livings things die in many areas of their lives. They see and hear about it on the television, in movies--even cartoons, and on an ordinary walk in the park or to school, e.g., : a dead bird, a squirrel, or other small animal. They notice the change of the seasons as plants and trees appear to wither and die.
They may have experienced the death of a pet. It's hard not to notice the difference between a live goldfish and one floating motionless on
the top of the fish bowl. Death causes changes in a living thing. Very young children may not be able to fully comprehend the complexities, but they are aware that death looks and feels different.
If possible, begin a dialogue with your child about how all living things on this earth will die someday. Death is a reality; we can't hide it from our children. It is the circle of life. If the situation arises where a plant, pet or animal dies, allow the child to investigate it, see it, touch it, even smell it.
With an accepting adult standing close by or holding a child while he/she discovers death on the sidewalk, children often adopt the attitude and the emotion of the adult. Talk about feelings. Share your feelings with your child. Tell him that when someone or something dies, we might feel sad, mad, or confused. And sometimes we might even cry--and that's okay.
Explain the difference between an "alive" bird and a dead one. When the bird was alive, he could fly, and sing, and eat worms, but now, his body has died. It doesn't work anymore. He cannot see, or hear, or move. His body is dead. You may even hold a "funeral ceremony" for the animal. Explain that a funeral is a time to say good-bye. It is a Special Time to Always Remember.
Another readily available example in a child's world is a simple flower. You can show the child a living flower. Point out its qualities of life--e.g., vibrant color, soft velvety petals, strong sturdy stem and enjoyable fragrance. If you want, you may even discuss the flower's purpose here on earth. It brings us joy, brightens a room, provides food for insects and bees, etc. Then show the child a flower that has died. Compare its qualities to the living flower. The flower has changed. Allow the child to touch and smell the flower.
When talking to a child about the death of a family member or friend, remind them that like the flower, or bird, or pet, the body of their loved one has changed. It cannot see, or hear, or move. Look through photo albums, talk about special memories and their relationship with the deceased.
Read books available for children. Acknowledge your child's feelings. Reassure them that sad and mad feelings are normal and okay. Allow them to attend the funeral or memorial service for their special person. Encourage them to write a letter or draw a picture that can be placed in the casket or displayed near the urn
You may want to talk about your family's faith tradition. Heaven is another concept which is a life long learning process.
Death IS a frightening concept for all of us. But, with loving explanations, acceptance of feelings and an opportunity to express those feelings, a child can begin to understand that death is a part of life.
What can you do to help your parent through his or her grief when a spouse dies? This is one of the major losses in life, but there
are things you can do to help.
Acceptance--Be accepting and supportive of the new person your parent becomes in the wake of this devastating loss. Support him or her in new ventures and new friendships. Your parent must find a new way to live, and build a new life for himself or herself.
Decisions--Let your parent decide when and how to dispose of the deceased's clothing and personal items. Some may not be ready to do this right away. Others may want to get it over with almost as soon as they get home from the funeral.
Family Traditions--Let your family traditions change and evolve to fit your family's new structure. Don't force things that don't work without the deceased, or that are exceptionally painful without him or her.
Independence--Help your parent be independent. Teach him or her something new that the deceased used to do rather than taking it on yourself. This could be anything from balancing the checkbook to maintaining the car to cooking.
Major Decisions--Encourage your parent to delay making major decisions, such as selling a home or moving to a new part of the country--for at least one year after the death. Discourage other major financial decisions as well.
Money--Your parent may be tempted to loan money to family or friends. Help them resist this urge, at least until they have a better understanding of their new financial circumstances, whether it's for better or worse.
New Life--Encourage your parent to make a new life for himself or herself. Encourage him or her to make new friends, take up new activities, and find new focus in life.
Talking--Talk about the deceased parent. Tell stories, and bring up his or her name often. Talking about the person keeps the memories aliveand helps the healing process.
Telephone--Call your parent frequently, and make sure they feel comfortable calling you more often. A surviving parent may become very dependent on his or her children for communication and companionship, at least in the short term.
There are many ways to be supportive of a person experiencing the grieving process.
Listening to grieving people is the most important thing you can do. Listen in a non-judging way, and allow them to tell the story or stories over and over if they need to. Repetition is often a key part of the healing process.
Share your memories of the loved one, too. Reflect on the feelings they are experiencing--but as you share, be careful not to start one-upping their feelings, or comparing your loss to theirs. And don't say "I know exactly how you feel." It's usually much more helpful to say something along the lines of "I can't imagine what you must be feeling right now," because most grieving people feel like no one else could know what they're experiencing.
It's also important not to tell people that time heals all wounds, or that their loved one is in a better place. While that may be true (depending on your belief system--and theirs) they're not in a place to hear that at this point.
Each person recovers from grief at his or her own pace. Some can recover quickly, while others can take a full year or more (this will also depend on the severity of the loss). Be careful not to impose a time limit or tell people to get over it and move on--feeling that they've grieved too long can cause people to suppress their feelings, and slow or stop the healing process.
Understand that grieving people are very likely to have emotional setbacks, even after a long period of healing and outward "improvement." Something could spark a memory that causes them to spiral downwards--dates that were important in the loved one's life, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, are often triggers for setbacks.
Be there for the grieving person as long as (s)he needs you.
Remember that there's no definitive way to experience grieving, and that everyone experiences a unique set of feelings or physical symptoms. Understand that the grieving person will always feel the loss, but that he or she will learn to live with it over time.
It may sound strange to talk about celebrating, but it can help grieving people heal. Help them celebrate the life of the loved one they've lost. Help them develop rituals they need to get through the difficult early stages of the grieving process.
Sometimes grieving people can go to extremes--if you notice signs of suicidal behavior or fear they may harm themselves or others, it's your moral, legal, and ethical duty to refer them to a mental health professional.
The statistic is chilling. More than 2,000 teens are killed every year in alcohol-related crashes. Grieving parents, siblings, teachers, and friends are left wondering if they could have done anything that would have kept those kids alive.
Our funeral home is happy to sponsor a new program designed to encourage students to make positive, life-saving choices about alcohol use and driving.
Called Positive Choices, this program combines information, technology and incentives to encourage students to say no to alcohol, especially when they will be driving or getting into a car driven by a friend.
The program is simple. Students and parents can visit www.positive-choices.org and sign the Positive Promise.
Every student who signs the online Positive Promise is eligible to receive one of five $2,000 college scholarships to be awarded in May 2003. By signing the Parent’s Promise, you double your child’s chances to win—and you are given a valuable opportunity to talk with him or her about the dangers of alcohol and drunk driving.
The site also features a quiz and interactive simulation of “driving” under the influence of alcohol. (This website contains no advertising and is focused solely on encouraging students not to drink and drive.)