About Cremation

What happens during cremation? 

This is a process where the deceased is placed into a casket or cremation container and then placed into a cremation chamber. After the chamber door closes, the machine is turned on and heated to a range of approx. 1400 – 1800 Fahrenheit. The cremation process time can vary depending on the machine and the condition of the body and/or container, but you could expect it to be approx. 2-3 hours. After the cremation process is complete, all substances are consumed or burned off, except bone fragments and metal. Any articles such as jewelry or glasses that are left with the deceased and not removed prior to cremation may will be destroyed during the process. So make sure to mention it to your funeral director if your desire is to keep those articles. 

The cremated remains are left to cool for a short period of time and then recovered by crematory personnel, by sweeping, brushing, or vacuuming in order to remove the cremated remains from the cremation chamber. Although the crematory operator will make every reasonable effort to remove all of the cremated remains from the cremation chamber, tiny particles and other residue from the process will be left behind. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in a temporary container provided by the crematory or placed in an urn purchased by the family.

State law generally requires that only one body may be cremated in a cremation chamber at a time. However, in some states, the remains of family members may be cremated together as long as there is consent from the next-of-kin.


Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I chose cremation?

Funeral arrangements can and should be as unique as the individual you are making arrangements for. It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One advantage of cremation is that it provides the family increased flexibility when making the funeral and cemetery arrangements. For example, one might choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in many places, including a place of worship, a funeral home or even in the crematory chapel.


What can be done with the cremated remains?

With cremation, your options are many. The cremated remains can be interred in a cemetery plot, which is also known as an earth burial, retained by a family member; usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that has significance to you or the deceased. (It is always advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place.) The cremated remains can also be placed in a columbarium, often located within a mausoleum or chapel, sometimes free-standing, either indoor or outdoor, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.


What is memorialization for a cremation?

Cremation is just one step in the commemorative process—the preparation of the human remains for memorialization. Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a life history for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision. It’s important to note that many studies show that by attending a memorial, an individual has an easier time adjusting to the death of a loved one than those that didn’t attend. Having a personalized, meaningful funeral may help families and friends begin the healing process of mourning after the death of someone. 

There are many options for a final resting place.  You might choose ground burial of the urn that has been chosen. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument style headstone. Also available at many cemeteries are cremation niches in a columbarium. They offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also have scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery provides a garden style setting where family and friends can come and reflect.  Another option would be a water burial.  There are biodegradable urns designed specifically for water burial and engineered to float briefly, then sink and breakdown quickly. Becoming more popular because of our mobile society, is home display. Displaying your urn in your home by placing it in a prominently displayed area or in a discrete place in your home allows you to keep the urn with the cremated remains of your loved one with you in the event that you have a job transfer, relocate, or end up retiring to another part of the country.

How do I decide what kind of memorial to create?

A funeral is so much more than a way to say goodbye; it’s an opportunity to celebrate the life of someone special. Today, a funeral can and should be as unique as the individual who is being honored. From simple touches like displaying personal photographs, to events created around a favorite pastime, funerals can reflect any aspect of a person’s life and personality.  The following are questions you can ask yourself to help you decide how to personalize the service:

  • What did the person like to do?  Favorite Hobbies
    • Displaying items used for their hobby; e.g. sports equipment, gardening tools, or musical instruments.
    • Personalizing the casket or urn with a symbol of their hobby.
    • Displaying trophies or awards they’ve received.
    • Creating a picture board or presentation featuring pictures of them engaged in their hobby.


  • What was the person like as an individual?
    • Cowboy or cowgirl: use a covered wagon rather than a standard hearse, have their saddle and riding equipment displayed, have their horse walk in the procession, have a barbecue after the service
    • Military honors for a member of the Armed Forces
    • Tailgate party for a sports enthusiast
    • Motorcycle drawn carriage rather than the standard hearse for the motorcycle enthusiast


  • Was the person spiritual?
    • Hold the service at the person’s parish or religious facility.
    • Have someone read excerpts from a key religious publication
    • Decorate the funeral home with symbols of the person’s faith.
    • Have the person’s cremated remains scattered at a place of spiritual significance to them.
    • Read a prayer that touches on their key beliefs.
    • Include sacred music from the religion in the service.


  • Was the person known for something special?
    • Serve cookies made from your loved one’s secret recipe
    • Organize a day of volunteering at their favorite charity in honor of your loved one


What size urn is most appropriate for my loved one?

After the cremation, you have many choices to consider that can hold the cremated remains. Most often, a permanent cremation urn is chosen as a memorial container and final resting place.There are many choices of urns suitable for your loved one. Using smaller sharing keepsake urns is a loving way to divide and share the cremated remains among family members so that each can keep a portion in a place that is close to them. Beautiful keepsake jewelry allows a tiny portion of the cremated remains to be placed in an item that can be worn every day.  Choose an urn based on your personal preferences. Maybe you choose an urn for its beauty or simplicity. Or maybe you choose an urn because it reminds you of your loved one. Choosing an urn that brings comfort or is pleasing to the eye will create a fitting memorial of a life well lived.

  • When considering the size of the urn, you’ll notice that urns are made in several different sizes which can accommodate varying amounts of cremated remains.  Generally, the cremated remains from an  individual that weighed 180 pounds will require an urn that is approximately 200 cubic inches or more.  The size of the urn chosen is a matter of personal preference. If you choose an urn that is larger than the amount of cremated remains because you like how it looks, that is perfectly fine. If you choose one that is smaller, you can put the balance of the cremated remains into keepsake urns and share them with family members or special friends if you wish.


Can you guide me in making my cremation urn or keepsake special and unique to my loved one?  

The personalization of your cremation urn or keepsake will truly make it as unique as your relationship was with your loved one. From an inscription on an urn or jewelry piece, to the special verse on a headstone or bronze plaque, your sentimental words will create a true reflection of the love that you have for them. Hearing other friends and family member's stories is certainly a wonderful way to reflect and pay tribute to your loved one and get everyone involved in honoring their life. Consider thinking about your loved one’s entire life, more than just their name or their date of birth and death date. Reflect on thoughts of your loved one and what about them makes you smile. Maybe it's a nickname, or a saying that they were notorious for saying, such as "Life is Short; Break the Rules.” It may also be a photo or a piece of artwork that represents something your loved one enjoyed. Each urn or keepsake is uniquely different and personalization options change with each style.  Be creative and have fun with the design.  If your creative mind dreams it, don’t be shy in asking if it can be customized!


As a member of the Armed Forces, are there any funeral or burial benefits available for my loved one?

There may be benefits available for

  1. Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) 
  2. Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
  3. Commissioned Officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  4. Public Health Service.
  5. World War II Merchant Mariners.
  6. The Philippine Armed Forces.
  7. Spouses and Dependents.
  8. Parents.
  9. Others (such other persons or classes of persons as designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs) 

Talk with your funeral director about military honors for your loved one and/or visit this website for more information:  http://www.cem.va.gov/