One of the questions we’re asked most often is “how does cremation work?” The cremation process reduces a human body to dry bone fragments using intense heat inside a specialized chamber. There are usually state laws specifying a minimum amount of time that must be observed between the time of death and when cremation may occur. A doctor or coroner must first sign the necessary paperwork authorizing the cremation, and the family must also submit their written consent. However, direct cremation without any additional services may happen within a few days after the death.
If We Choose Cremation, Does the Body Have to Be Embalmed?
This largely depends on the family’s viewing and visitation plans. If you intend to have an open-casket visitation before cremation, embalming is required for cosmetic reasons. Our staff will also need to remove any implants, prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, etc., from the body to ensure their safety while operating the cremation equipment.
How Long Does Cremation Take? What Kind of Fuel Is Used?
The cremation process can take anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on the body’s size and weight and the equipment used. Most crematories use natural gas, such as propane or butane, or fuel oil to heat their chambers. The average temperature of a cremation chamber is 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Are People Dressed When They’re Cremated?
If you decide to hold a funeral visitation or memorial service, your loved one will usually be cremated in the clothing you’ve selected. In the case of direct cremation without any services, people are typically cremated in whatever clothing they were wearing when they died. Some clothing and accessories may not be suitable for cremation. It’s generally a good idea to discuss clothing concerns with the funeral director. This ensures your loved one isn’t being cremated with any combustible items that aren’t safe for crematory staff, or they’re wearing only biodegradable options if you’re interested in a green burial.
Can I Participate in the Cremation Process?
Upon special request, you may be allowed in the room during your loved one’s cremation. However, there isn’t much to see during the cremation process. The cremation chambers are enclosed, so you cannot actually watch the body being cremated. Because cremation takes anywhere from 3-5 hours with a cooldown period required, most family members do not wish to be present. In the case of direct cremation, nobody may be permitted. Please discuss the possibility with our funeral director in greater detail if this is something your family may be interested in as part of their closure.
What Should I Do with My Loved One’s Cremated Ashes?
If your loved one didn’t make funeral pre-arrangements with our funeral director, the decision about what to do with their cremated ashes will be left to the immediate family. Cremated ashes are usually buried in a cremation casket, placed in an urn inside a vault or columbarium, or scattered in a meaningful place to the deceased. Occasionally, family members may elect to keep the ashes inside an urn or special decorative keepsake, such as a locket. Our staff would be happy to help you decide and make the necessary preparations.
Can I Purchase an Urn Elsewhere, or Must I Buy One from You?
Perl Funeral Home & Siskiyou Memorial Park offers various caskets, urns, and keepsakes for your consideration, including cremation chests and jewelry. Our cremation urns come in beautiful wood, ceramic, brass, marble, and even biodegradable options at competitive prices. However, you’re also free to purchase an urn or accessories elsewhere.
Can We Put Special Items in a Loved One’s Cremation Casket?
Certainly. Many families decide to add photos, flowers, written messages, religious tokens, and personal mementos to their loved one’s cremation casket. If you want any of these items returned to you before cremation of the body, be sure to let our funeral director know. There may be certain combustible items or accessories that are not suitable for cremation. Green burials usually have stricter rules, as everything placed inside the casket must be biodegradable.
Does This Mean We Don’t Need to Plan a Memorial Service?
Just because you’re planning a cremation service doesn’t mean you can’t also plan a meaningful memorial service. Cremation offers the family more flexibility to hold a funeral or end-of-life celebration weeks or even months after the death. This can be helpful if you anticipate a lot of out-of-town mourners will be in attendance and you must make travel arrangements. Memorial services range from the traditional with flowers, prayers or spiritual readings, and eulogies to more unique affairs with music, photo collages and video tributes, and even the releasing of doves if you so desire. If you could use a step-by-step guide about how to plan a funeral, our friendly, caring staff has you covered.
What’s the Difference Between a Columbarium and a Mausoleum?
Mausoleums and columbariums are both used to house multiple people’s remains in a cemetery. Mausoleums are typically reserved for aboveground burials of bodies in caskets, while columbariums hold cremation urns. Both traditions date back centuries. Ancient Romans and Buddhist monks had columbariums, while many ancient Persians preferred mausoleums. Perl Funeral Home & Siskiyou Memorial Park has 60 acres of picturesque cemetery plots, beautiful mausoleums, and a stunning columbaria house to offer your loved one a dignified resting place, no matter your personal preferences.