Cremation Questions

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family the opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But, this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:

  • A visitation prior to the service
  • An open or closed casket
  • Special music
  • A ceremony at the funeral home, your place of worship, or other special location
  • Participation by friends and family

Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium or interred in a family burial plot.

What happens during the cremation process?

The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber, where the temperature is raised to approximately 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, all organic matter is consumed by heat or evaporation. The remaining bone fragments are known as cremated remains. The cremated remains are then carefully removed from the cremation chamber. Any metal is removed with a magnet and later disposed of in an approved manner. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in a temporary container provided by the crematory or placed in an urn purchased by the family. The entire process takes approximately three hours. Throughout the cremation process, a carefully controlled labeling system ensures correct identification.

When after death can a cremation take place?

Because cremation is an irreversible process and because the process itself will eliminate any ability to determine exact cause of death, many states require that each cremation be authorized by the coroner or medical examiner. Some states have specific minimum time limits that must elapse before cremation may take place. In Pennsylvania, the minimum time limit for cremation to take place after a death has occurred is 24 hours.

Why is refrigeration of the remains necessary?

Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin. Unless a body is embalmed, refrigeration is the only alternative available that will retard tissue decomposition. Refrigeration is a necessity that protects the funeral home staff and the general public from potential health hazards.

Is embalming necessary for cremation?

No. In most cases, it is your choice. It may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public viewing of the body or whether there is to be a funeral service.

Is a casket required?

No. For sanitary reasons and ease of placement and dignity, Pennsylvania state law requires that the deceased be cremated in a combustible, leak proof, rigid, covered container allowing for the dignified handling of human remains. This does not need to be a casket as such.  The type of casket or container selected is really a personal decision. Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from simple cardboard containers to beautifully handcrafted oak, maple or mahogany caskets.

Are there special cremation caskets?

There is a choice of very affordable cremation caskets that are completely combustible. The selection includes options from a simple pine or cloth-covered casket to a hardwood casket.

Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?

No, cremation is simply a method of preparing human remains for final disposition.

Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I choose cremation?

It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship or our funeral home.

Frequently Asked Questions

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