Cremation 101December 19, 2016
The Popularity of Cremation
The rate of cremation is rising steadily- 68.8% of Canadians polled reported that they were “definitely” or “somewhat likely” to choose cremation as an option.* By 2020, these numbers are expected to hit close to 75%. We see this increase in the popularity of cremation as the perfect opportunity to answer some questions, dispel a few myths, and bring some transparency to the process.
Does a Cremation Involve a Lot of Fire?
Sort of. The cremation process starts with the retort, a specially designed furnace. The inside of the retort is heated to 800° Celsius and the body is quickly slipped into the chamber. Once sealed inside, the body is exposed to a column of fire that begins the incineration process. The heat serves as a way of drying and vaporizing the body, leaving only calcified bones at the end. So while fire does play a key role in the process, dry heat is also integral.
Is Embalming Required Prior to a Cremation
No. Unless an open-casket visitation is planned prior to the cremation, there is no need to embalm.
Can You Still Have a Funeral Service If You Choose Cremation?
Yes, certainly. The main difference between cremation and traditional burial when it comes to the funeral service is that cremation adds an extra step. When having a traditional burial, the body is typically transferred directly from the service to the cemetery. When a cremation takes place, the body is transferred from the service to the crematorium. Once the cremation is complete, the family can decide whether they want to bury their loved one or would prefer another option such as scattering the cremated remains.
What If There’s a Mix Up In The Cremation Process?
One concern that comes up frequently is about ensuring that the cremated remains that you receive are actually those of your loved one. How can you know that you’re getting the right person? Simply put, there’s very little room for error. Governing bodies impose strict guidelines about the cremation process and require that all parties involved adhere to the rules. Funeral directors follow protocol regarding identification when transferring the deceased from the place of death, into their care, and to the crematorium, at which point the technicians take over. Only one body is cremated at a time meaning that one set of remains can’t be intermingled with another. Families are also welcome to witness the beginning of the cremation which can provide additional peace of mind.
Is Cremation Less Expensive Than a Traditional Funeral Service?
It can be. In instances of direct cremation, the price tends to be lower as there are fewer steps involved. However, if a family decides to have a traditional service prior to the cremation, the cost will go up. By asking your funeral director for a detailed price list, you’ll be able to see where your money is going and avoid any surprises.
*FAMIC Study, Funeral and Memorialization Information Council (FAMIC), 2015.