What is Cremation? How Does Cremation Work?
Part of making funeral arrangements on behalf of a loved one involves choosing between burial of the body, or cremation. In order to do this, you might need to know answers to these questions: What is cremation? How does cremation work? Certainly this is a big decision, based on any number of factors: religious or spiritual beliefs, finances, or ecological awareness are just some of the reasons we've heard for choosing cremation. Before you can make the choice, you need to know exactly what it is you're considering. You can learn the basics below, however, if the content here raises additional questions for you, please give us a call at 204-949-2200. One of our cremation specialists will address any of your inquiries or concerns.
What is Cremation?
The Cremation Association of North America describes cremation as, "The mechanical and/or thermal or other dissolution process that reduces human remains to bone fragments".
As we said earlier, people choose cremation over burial of casketed remains for any combination of reasons. Sometimes it's the simple fear of burial itself, which may stem directly from the Victorian phobia of being buried alive. Or it could be they are uncomfortable with the very idea and imagery of physical decomposition.
A Short History of Cremation
According to Wikipedia, cremation service burials date back at least 20,000 years ago in Australia, while in Europe, there is evidence of cremation dating to around 2,000 B.C. Cremation was common in Ancient Greece and Rome, and it remains a standard practice in India. The practice of cremation faded in Europe by the fifth century and during the Middle Ages, it was primarily used in the punishment of heretics or in response to the fear of contagious diseases. Today, cremation is preferred by more and more people around the world.
The Flame Cremation Process
Neil Bardal Funeral Centre uses a traditional cremation process, of reducing a body at very high temperatures until it is nothing but brittle, calcified bones. These are then processed into what we refer to as Cremated Remains. Returned to the family in a temporary urn (or a more personal urn selected by the family), these Cremated Remains can be kept, buried, or scattered. Some families even choose to place a loved one's Cremated Remains in a hand-crafted piece of cremation art.
Within our facility, deceased are received, identified, and recorded and held in cool storage in a cardboard cremation container.
The container is placed in one of our two cremation chambers (the retort) and the process can take about 2 to 3 hours at a temperature of 1600 F. When the cremated remains are cooled, they are hand sorted to remove anything not of the body (metal fragments, medical implants, etc.) and processed to a pebble sized consistancy and placed in the urn or container as specified by the family.
Cremation costs will vary depending upon the wishes of the deceased and family traditions and wishes. While it's true that cost is a big factor for many families, it's important to remember that cremation is only one part of providing meaningful end-of-life care for a loved one. Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is important and can be achieved with a memorial service. Bringing family and friends together provides everyone with the opportunity to share memories and receive support.
What is Required to Arrange for Cremation?
Once the cremation-over-burial decision has been made, all that's required is authorization. This is provided by the person who is the legally identified or appointed next-of-kin. Once all authorization documents are signed, and service charges are paid; the body can be transported from the place of death to the crematory and the cremation process can take place. However, there are some additional things you may wish to consider, such as:
Is there a special set of clothes (such as a military uniform or favorite dress) your loved one would appreciate the thought of wearing? This will be a focus of the cremation arrangement conversation, and you will be advised by your funeral director as to your best options regarding jewelry or other valuable personal items.
Are there any keepsake items you'd like to include in their cremation casket? Perhaps there's a special memento, such as a treasured photograph or letter? We sometimes suggest family members write cards, notes or letters to their deceased loved one, and place them in the casket prior to the cremation.
Would you or other family members like to be present for–or participate to some degree in–your loved one's cremation? Because we know how healing it can be to take part in an act of "letting go", we welcome the opportunity to bring interested family or friends into the crematory. Please discuss your desire to participate with your funeral director.
Is it Time to Speak with One of Our Cremation Specialists?
We encourage open dialog about all end-of-life issues, and sincerely hope you reach out to us to dig deeper into the topics related to cremation and burial. Call us today at 204-949-2200 to ask a question or to set an appointment (either in your home or our office). We look forward to the conversation.
What is Cremation, Cremation Association of North America