For centuries, various cultures and religious groups have utilized the process of cremation to dispose of the bodies of their deceased. Today, more than 650,000 people are cremated each year, and experts believe the number will continue to rise. Many people associate cremation with the Bible scripture telling of "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Other people choose cremation because of its cost-effectiveness and more environmentally friendly process (as compared to harsh chemicals utilized in embalming).
The entire cremation process, takes approximately three hours. Crematorium workers then place the remains in a container, or an urn, and give it to the family. The family has the freedom of deciding what to do with the ashes, or they follow through on the wishes of the person who has died. Many families choose to host traditional funeral services (sometimes with a rented casket, and funeral programs) before the cremation, or they host memorial services afterwards. You can also make a cremation memorial service program to help personalize your loved one's memory. See our article on memorial service ideas for information about planning funeral and memorial ceremonies
There are various ways that families can handle the remains:
Spread the ashes over a particular location that was important to the deceased. Make sure, however, that there is no risk of the location being torn down or developed in the future. That way, family members can continue to visit the location and have the opportunity to remember the person who has died.
Bury the remains, or the container, into the earth. If a husband and wife have each chosen different arrangements (one chose cremation and one chose standard ground burial) speak with cemetery officials about burying them together. Sometimes itâ€™s possible to bury the cremated remains on top of the casketed body.
Keep the remains of the person and display them in an urn. Urns are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials and price ranges.
Utilize scattering gardens, now located in many cemeteries, where families can scatter ashes but still have a preserved location to allow for future visits. See our article on scattering ashes for more details.
Utilize columbariums, structures built indoors and outdoors that have little compartments designed to hold urns.
Overall, prior to a cremation, be sure to remove any special items, such as jewelry, that the family wants to keep. Also, remove any medical devices, such as pacemakers. If interested, arrangements can be made for family members to watch a cremation.