Cremation rates are rising, and today cremation is chosen for about half of all U.S. deaths—and trends show that the number is still rising. You may have questions about whether cremation is the right choice for your family.
Here are seven facts about cremation you need to know.
- How long does cremation take?
The actual cremation process will take two to three hours, depending slightly on the size of the body; however, there are other steps that will be taken before the remains can be returned to the family.
- Is a casket required for cremation?
A combustible cremation container will be used, not necessarily a casket. The family can select from many options, including a traditional wooden casket, a cloth-covered casket, or a simple cardboard container. If the family chooses to have a viewing of the decedent at a service before the cremation is carried out, most funeral homes can provide a ceremonial casket to be used for that purpose. The ceremonial casket will be rented just for the viewing, and a separate combustible cremation container will be used for the actual cremation.
- Can I use my own urn to store the cremains?
The funeral home will return the cremains in a plastic bag inside a box, or you may select an urn. You can use a container of your own choosing, but it would be a good idea to discuss this ahead of time with your cremation provider to make sure your container is the appropriate size.
- Can I watch the cremation?
Many funeral homes or crematories will allow family members and others approved by the family to witness the cremation. Discuss your desire with your provider ahead of time.
- What can I do with the cremated remains?
You may elect to keep the cremains in an urn in your home. Others choose to scatter the ashes in a place meaningful to the person. Check local ordinances to see if this is allowed. Others choose to bury the cremains or to have them placed in a columbarium, which is a construction that holds niches for cremains.
- If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was given a traditional ground burial?
Yes. Talk to the cemetery about having your cremains placed just above your spouse’s casket or, if you have already purchased a plot adjacent to your spouse, your cremains can be interred in that space.
- What kind of funeral arrangements do I need to make if I choose a cremation?
You have many options. You may choose direct cremation followed by a memorial service, or you may elect to have the body prepared for a traditional funeral, complete with the body available for viewing, with the cremation scheduled after services conclude. Talk to your funeral director or cremation provider about your preferences.
The National Funeral Directors Association
Cremation Association of North America