Even if you decide to have a more traditional funeral service with the body present, you can still choose cremation as an option. Most funeral homes will provide a rental casket and casket liner so you don't need to have the extra expense of a casket, while still having a traditional service.

What are cremains?

Cremation uses heat to reduce the body to its basic elements. The final result is referred to as cremains, or ashes.

Some families may choose to accompany the body to the crematorium after a church service - much the same as attending a graveside service - however, this service is traditionally attended by only close friends and family members.

Direct cremation

The body is cremated shortly after death, without embalming. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container. No viewing or visitation is involved, although a memorial service may be held, with or without the cremated remains present. The remains can be kept in the home, buried or placed in a crypt or niche in a cemetery, or buried or scattered in a favorite spot.

Direct cremation usually costs less than the traditional, full-service funeral. Costs include the funeral home's basic services fee, as well as transportation and care of the body. A crematory fee may be included or, if the funeral home does not own the crematory, the fee may be added on. There also will be a charge for an urn or other container. The cost of a cemetery plot or crypt is included only if the remains are buried or entombed.

Funeral providers who offer direct cremations also must offer to provide an alternative container that can be used in place of a casket.

Types of urns: Other cremain options
  • Wood
  • Cast bronze
  • Stainless steel
  • Steel
  • Acrylic
  • Bronze
  • Glass
  • Artisan
  • Jewelry
  • Memory chest
  • Scattering
  • Wind chimes
  • Bird bath
  • Vase

What to do with cremains

Cremains, like a traditional burial, can be placed in a cemetery plot or entombment. They can be kept in an urn or scattered someplace meaningful. If you are considering scattering cremains, you need to check with your local laws regarding this matter. The crematorium could answer any questions you may have about scattering.

There are less traditional ways to handle the cremains, such as having them made into diamonds or placing them in memorial jewelry. There are artisans who make custom cremain urns or even have them buried at sea in a coral reef.

Catholic Cremation

Cremation remains controversial within Catholic circles. Traditionally, cremation was viewed as denying faith in God and resurrection. However, the 1983 Code of Canon Law (1176. 3) now reads, "The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching." Cremation is the final form of disposition and you may have a full Mass with body and casket. If you are planning cremation, it should occur after the funeral liturgy. The cremated remains of the body should be buried or entombed. For more information, speak to your parish priest.

Federal Trade Commission: Funerals: A Consumer Guide

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Everest Funeral
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