I’m constantly peppered with questions about death care. Over the years, I’ve heard some of the wackiest misconceptions about our industry, and I’m here to set the record straight.
With this column, my hope is to separate fact from fiction and reveal the countless options families have today when it comes to their final arrangements. Whether you’re thinking ahead about final arrangements for yourself or a loved one, I hope these articles provide guidance and remove some of the “ick” factor of funeral planning.
Today, I’ll shed light on cremation. Although some people have told me that the mere thought of cremation “creeps them out,” there’s nothing ominous about it. Like burial, cremation is simply a type of final disposition. It is a clean and ecologically safe process that reduces a body to its basic elements. After the cremation process, the cremains or “ashes” are placed in an urn.
In fact, an increasing number of families are exploring cremation as an affordable, environmentally friendly alternative to burial. By 2017, the cremation rate in most parts of the United States will reach 50 percent or higher, according to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).
Many families ask whether it’s possible to hold a visitation and a service prior to a cremation. The answer: Absolutely. With cremation, you have all the same service options as with burial — and when it comes to your loved one’s ashes, you actually have even more choices. You can bury the ashes in a family plot, place them in a niche, keep them in an urn at home or scatter them in a special place.
Because of some horrible true stories that have recently been in the news, I am asked two cremation questions quite frequently: “Where will the cremation take place?” and “How do I know that I am getting back the cremated remains of my loved one?”
The answers should be simple. Some crematories have a room available to watch the cremation process. So, for your piece of mind, ask the funeral home of your choice, “Do you have a crematory on this site? If not, where will you be transporting my loved one?” Also ask, “Will you personally oversee that my loved one is, in fact, in the urn you return to me?”
Some crematories have a process guarantee that non-evasively tags the person to be cremated through each of the cremation processes. The tag is then attached to the cremated remains before placement in an urn. The number on the tag is documented and can be easily identified if the cremains are lost and found by someone unknown to the family.
As you can see, there is nothing creepy about cremation at all. In fact, it’s becoming a popular alternative to burial.
Local funeral home director Rob Loose’s column will run the first Sunday of each month as part of a rotation of personal business advice columns. Contact him at email@example.com.