Common Questions About Cremation

There are thousands of funeral homes and cremation providers throughout the U.S., providing multiple options in most areas. Since most families don’t experience a death too often, there are many questions people have related to selecting a cremation provider, the cremation process, cremation cost, and memorials that are available for people who choose cremation. Below we provide answers to some of the more common questions.

Cremation Q&A

cremation question

How do I know I’m choosing a reputable cremation provider?

The best advice in choosing a cremation provider is to do your research prior to signing an agreement. Ask as many questions as you can think of about the facility, qualifications of their staff, what procedures they use, and their processes. If you feel pressured to buy certain items or you feel uncomfortable with the staff or that they are trying to rush your visit, go elsewhere. The FTC’s Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to provide pricing up front and over the telephone – so make sure they give this to you. They must also provide you with a full range of options, not just the most expensive ones or the ones that provide them with the most margin. The key to this process is to listen to your gut as to what feels right to you.

If I choose cremation, can there still be a memorial service?

Yes, and this is actually quite common! People who choose cremation have more memorial options than those who choose burial. Similar to burial, you can still have a funeral with the body available for viewing, or alternatively, you can have a memorial service with or without the cremated ashes present. If you decide on a viewing, embalming most likely will be necessary. Memorial services for someone who chooses cremation are extremely flexible and can be held either at a funeral home, a church, a restaurant, outdoors, or another location that was meaningful for the person who passed or their family.

Are we required to have our loved one embalmed prior to cremation?

No. Embalming may only be necessary if you decide to have a viewing. Regulations vary by state so it is recommended to check your state regulations prior to having a service with a viewing.

Will I get the cremated ashes back?

Definitely. During the process of making arrangements for the cremation you will be provided an authorization form to sign. This will include a space where you can write how you would like the ashes returned to you. The provider should be able to provide you with an approximate time frame until you will have access to the ashes – they usually are available for the family within a few days time.

How can I be sure my family receives the right ashes?

Proper ID of the deceased is a critical part of the process that takes place prior to cremation. Many providers have their identification procedures on their website and will provide you with written information regarding their policies. If you are working with a funeral director, he or she will go over that information with you. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the process and make sure you are comfortable with the steps that will be taken before you authorize the cremation.

Can more than one person be cremated at the same time in the same cremator?

No, it is illegal for the operator to perform multiple cremations in a single cremator at the same time.

Can my family witness the cremation?

Many facilities offer families and friends of the deceased the option to witness their loved one’s cremation. Policies vary from facility-to-facility and state-to-state so, if this is something of interest, you should ask your provider what options, if any, are available for viewing.

What is done to the body before the cremation?

If there will be a funeral with a viewing, the body will be cleaned and, in many cases, embalmed. If your loved one is being cremated without a viewing, the body will be cleaned and medical devices removed.

Do I have to have a casket if I am going to be cremated?

If there will be a viewing before the cremation, many families rent a casket from the facility to place their loved one’s body in. This is much more economical than purchasing one that will only be used for a short amount of time. Immediately prior to the cremation, the body will need be placed in a biodegradable container that is combustible and eco-friendly. The body will remain in this container, or temporary casket, during the cremation process.

Do we have to buy an urn from the cremation provider?

Absolutely not!  You are not required to purchase any of the urns offered by the funeral home or crematory. Some families choose to make their own container for the cremated ashes or decide to purchase one of the many urn options that are available online.

What can we do with our loved one’s ashes after cremation?

There are almost endless things you can do with the ashes of your loved one. Many families choose to honor a loved one with a Living Urn tree memorial, scattering at a special place or places, burying at a location of your choosing, including in an artificial reef, placed in a firework, launched into orbit, and infused in glass, among others. Below we’ve outlined some options in more detail.

The Living Urn

The Living Urn is the leading tree urn available for families with a number of important unique features and advantages. This patented system allows families to grow a beautiful tree memorial from a special biotree urn containing some or all of the cremated remains of your loved one. The Living Urn has become a popular choice for families as it allows them to honor a loved one and also give back. Families can choose from over fifty tree options, narrowed down by zip code to what grows best in your area. This living memorial is commonly planted on private property or public property (such as parks) with permission. Some cemeteries now even allow Living Urns to be planted on their grounds.

Scatter Ashes

Scattering remains the most popular thing to do with human ashes. These can be scattered at a home, in  a park, the mountains, the beach or any other meaningful or special place (be sure to check local rules first). Many families will scatter a portion at one location and then scatter the remaining at a second or even third location that they hold special. Scattering urns, such as Eco Scattering, are becoming common, as they give families the ability to scatter in a graceful way, with control and ease (and are designed in such a way to help prevent the ashes from blowing back on the person scattering).

Water Burial

Another option that’s growing in popularity is to have a water burial to disperse the the cremated ashes of a loved one in a body of water. This can be done with a simple container found around the home, scattering urn, or an urn designed for a water burial, such as the Eco Water Urn. This unique water urn is made from recycled plant materials and floats like a buoy until the bottom breaks open, freeing the ashes in water. It comes packaged in an attractive bamboo case, perfect to transport the urn holding ashes to that favorite place and also a great addition to any ceremony.

Bury Ashes

A more tradition route is to bury the ashes of your loved one. This can be done in a more tradition urn with an urn vault, or a biodegradable urn. A biodegradable urn that is growing in popularity is the Eco Burial Urn. This beautiful and popular burial urn is made entirely from bamboo, a sustainable resource, and will biodegrade underground over time.