What Is Cremation?

Exploring Cremation

Frequently Asked Questions

Issues to Consider

The Cremation Process

Final Resting Places

Explaining Cremation to a Child


Cremation is a process in which intense heat is used to transform the body back to its basic elements. The body, enclosed in a container approved for cremation, is placed in a cremation chamber. The soft tissue is vaporized. What remains is not ashes, but bone fragments weighing from three to nine pounds on average. This is what is contained in the cremation urn.

Funeral homes often engage the services of a local crematory. Crematories provide the actual cremation with reverence and dignity. Crematories are regulated and inspected by state and federal agencies.

Cremation is just one form of preparing the body for final disposition. Cremation procedures include filling out the death certificate and all other official documents.

Cremation does not take the place of customary funeral services; it's merely another form of final disposition. Funeral services are the way we, the living, share our grief, acknowledge the contributions the deceased has made to our lives, and prepare ourselves for going on with life.

Why are more and more people choosing cremation? There are many factors, including:

  • personal or spiritual philosophy
  • environmental philosophy
  • simplicity or convenience
  • economy
  • greater acceptance now among many religions
  • people are more likely to live away from their family roots (jobs, retirement, living, etc.)

Cremation is a centuries-old funeral rite which is again growing in preference. It's the rite of preference in Europe, Great Britain, Japan, Scandinavia, and other regions.

When choosing cremation as a part of your pre-planned arrangements, important considerations should be given to a few specific issues.

How are cremation services different from regular burial services? They're not. Services with cremation are the same as with earth burial, unless you prefer something different. It's your choice to make—your funeral, if you will.

Whatever you choose—casket and burial or cremation—family and friends need time to grieve and to say good-bye. This is the reason for funeral services—to support the living through the pain and loneliness of loss to acceptance and resolution.

Cremation and burial offer the same services, including music, prayers, and recitations of your choice. You can having viewing and visitation arrangements, with an open or closed casket (or no casket at all) for as long or as short a period as you wish.

Here are a few other services and options for your funeral or memorial service:

Reception for Family and Friends

  • at the funeral home
  • at your church
  • in your home
  • at another location that is special to the family or to the deceased


Memorial or Prayer Service

  • a service of remembrance (like a funeral)
  • with or without the urn or casket present
  • whenever you choose
  • with whomever you choose