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Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation

Frequently Asked Questions About Cremation

For most people, the death of a family member or friend isn't something experienced too frequently. Therefore, there are many questions people have related to selecting a funeral home or crematory, the process of the cremation, cost of cremation, and available cremation urns and memorials. Below we provide answers to some of the most common questions related to cremation.

How do I choose the ‘right’ funeral home or cremation provider?


There are thousands of funeral homes and cremation providers throughout the U.S. The most important part of selecting a funeral home or cremation provider is to do some research before signing an agreement. This includes asking as many questions as you can think of about the facility, qualifications of their staff, and their process and procedures.

If at any point you feel pressured to purchase certain things, you feel uneasy with the staff, or you feel they are trying to rush your meeting, leave and go elsewhere. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule makes it so funeral directors and other providers must provide pricing up-front and even over the phone – so be sure they provide this. In addition, the provider must also offer a full range of different options, and not just the most expensive packages or the options that give the facility the highest margin. During this process it’s important to listen to your gut as to what feels right for you and your family.

With cremation, can there still be a service?

There can definitely still be a service with cremation and it’s actually very common! As with a burial, people who are cremated can still have a funeral with the body present for viewing, or you can elect to have a service after the cremation is performed with or without the ashes present. If you choose to have a viewing, embalming of the body will typically be necessary. Services for people who are cremated are commonly held either at a funeral home, church,  restaurant, outdoors, or another location that was meaningful for the person who passed or their family.

Is it necessary to be embalmed before cremation?

No. It is only necessary to embalm in some states if you decide to have a viewing of the body. The regulations related to embalming and viewings are different in every state so it is advised to ask you funeral director or do an online search of your state regulations prior to having a service with a viewing.

Will I get the cremated ashes back?

Yes! When you’re making the cremation arrangements with your funeral director or cremation provider you will need to fill out and sign an authorization form. This form includes a section where you can note how and where you want your loved one’s ashes returned. The provider who you are working with will be able to let you know when you will have access to the ashes – they are typically available within a few days to a week.

How can I be sure we receive my loved one’s ashes?

This is an important question to ask of your funeral director or cremation provider. Most will take the identification and tracking of the deceased very seriously and have strict written procedures in place (and they should be able to provide you a copy of this, if you’re interested in reviewing). Feel free to ask questions about the identification process and be sure that you are comfortable with the steps that will be taken to ID your loved one before, during and after the cremation.

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

No. it is illegal in the U.S. for the provider to perform more than one human cremation in a single chamber at the same time. However, this is not the case for pets and communal cremations of our beloved four legged family members are quite common.

Can my family and friends view the cremation?

Many providers offer families of the deceased the option to witness their loved one’s cremation. This typically includes seeing the body being moved into the cremation chamber. Policies and procedures differ by facility and state, so if this is something of interest, you should ask your funeral director or provider if this is possible.

How is the body prepped before the cremation?

This depends on if there will be a viewing or not. If the family prefers to have a viewing, the body of the deceased will be cleaned and, in many cases, embalmed. If there will be a cremation without a viewing, the body will typically only be cleaned. In both cases, medical devices are typically removed prior to cremation.

Is a casket necessary for cremation?

If the decision is made to have a viewing prior to cremation, many facilities will give you the ability to rent a casket to place your loved one’s body in for the viewing. This is a much more cost effective than purchasing a casket that will only be used for a short amount of time. Then, prior to the cremation, the body will be placed in a biodegradable container or temporary casket (typically made out of cardboard or another combustible material). The body will remain in this container while it is cremated.

Do we have to purchase an urn from the funeral home or cremation provider?

No, you aren’t required to purchase any of the urns or other memorials presented by the funeral home or cremation provider. You can elect to purchase one of the many urn options that are available online or from another source, or simply get the standard container with your loved one’s ashes back from the funeral home or crematory.

What types of memorials are available for a loved one who has been cremated?

There are many different things a family can do with the cremated ashes of a loved one. You can either choose to do a single memorial or divide up the ashes into multiple memorials (this is common when each family member wants their own special memorial). Some of the more popular memorials today include planting the ashes with The Living Urn’s patented bio urn and planting system to grow a living tree memorial, scattering ashes at a special place (or places), burying the ashes, having them infused into a glass decorative piece or a piece of cremation jewelry, or keeping the ashes in the home.

The Living Urn®

The patented Living Urn is the leading tree urn available for families worldwide. This special planting system gives families the ability to grow a beautiful memory tree from a special urn containing the ashes of a loved one (with one full set of ashes or less if desired). This option gives families the ability to honor a loved one and give back to Mother Nature and future generations. You can choose from over fifty tree options, narrowed down by zip code to what grows best in each area of the U.S. The tree you select will arrive 2 to 4 feet in height, ready to plant with The Living Urn and your loved one’s ashes.

Scattering Urn

Scattering ashes of a loved one with a scattering urn is one of the most popular things families do. You can scatter ashes in the yard at home, at a park, in the mountains, on the beach, or another special place of your choosing (however, be sure to check the local rules first where you plan on scattering). In addition, many families will scatter some of a loved one’s ashes at one special place, then scatter the remaining ashes at a second or even third special place. Due to the popularity of scattering, there are new and unique urns designed to scatter a loved one’s ashes. This includes Eco Scattering, a biodegradable scattering urn made from bamboo that gives you the ability to scatter ashes with ease and control.

Water Burial Urn

Performing a water burial, or burial at sea, is another popular option to memorialize a loved one. Many people perform water burials with a scattering urn, or an urn designed for a water burial such as Eco Water. This proprietary water burial urn is all natural and is constructed from recycled plant materials. It floats upright similar to a buoy and frees the ashes in water. Another new option that recently became available is the patented Flow ice urnThis unique urn is made entirely of ice, and floats for a few minutes before gracefully dispersing a loved one’s ashes into the water.

Burial Urn

Another common thing families do with all or a portion of their loved one’s ashes is to bury them at a special place. In most places, burying ashes can be done with an urn and vault, a biodegradable urn, or no urn at all. A common burial urn that is offered by many funeral homes throughout the U.S. is the Eco Burial Urn. This biodegradable burial urn is constructed from bamboo, a fast growing and sustainable resource.

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