Dan Redmond (Cemetery and Funeral Inspector, California Department of Consumer Affairs ) gives expert video advice on: What are the advantages of cremation?; Are there legal restrictions about what I can do with cremated remains?; What are alternative ways to preserve cremated remains? and more...
What is "cremation"?
Cremation is the process by which the body is incinerated and reduced down to its simplest form of bone. This in turn is then processed into ash and small bone fragments and placed in a urn. The thing about cremation is you can still have a full funeral if you choose to be cremated. In some cases, they even allow you to assist with the cremation process, if your religious or personal beliefs dictate that that's something you want to do. You can actually assist the crematorium in the cremation process by turning on the machine and even sometimes pushing the body into the cremation chamber.
What are the advantages of cremation?
The are many benefits of cremation. With cremation, you have many options that you would not have with a full-body burial. You're able to take the cremated remains away. You can either take them home or scatter them in a place where the deceased was really happy, as long as it's legal within the guidelines of your jurisdiction you're in. You can also shoot cremation remains into space if you'd like to. Cremation really has its benefits. It also actually takes up less ground space than a full-body burial. The cost will also be less expensive than for a full-body interment.
Can I still have a funeral if I choose cremation?
You can absolutely still have a funeral if you choose cremation. In fact, most people do have a funeral or memorial service of some sort prior to the cremation taking place, or even after the cremation's taken place. The urn used in the creation process is a symbol of the person inside.
Do I have to buy a casket for cremation?
A crematory can't require you to buy a casket for cremation. However, they will ask you to use a cremation container, which is a closed, leak-resistant container that they incinerate the body in. You can find an inexpensive container specifically for cremation through a casket store. You can also purchase them through a funeral establishment. They're probably going to be a little more costly at the funeral establishment. The reason they are expensive is because they are usually wax lined, and they facilitate the cremation process. This makes them leak resistant, and that's really the purpose of the cremation container.
What is a "columbarium"?
A columbarium is an above ground structure specifically used for the interment of ashes or cremated remains. There's many different types of columbariums. Depending on the kind of urn that you want to use, you should really check with the cemetery to make sure that they're going to allow you to use those types of urns. Some columbariums actually have glass fronts on them so you can put a decorative urn inside and see the actual urn itself that your loved one's been placed in. The fees associated with purchasing a columbarian will be the actual space itself, opening and closing, any sort of epitaph that you want to place on there, like a marker. You can also place flower vases on the outside of the niche space, which is what the space is called in the columbarium that your ashes go.
What is an "urn"?
An urn is what the cremation remains are actually placed in. There are many types of urns, from the a simple plastic urn to some that are extremely ornate. You can use many different things; I've seen people use things like cookie jars or maybe their favorite plastic model that they had when they were a kid. People use different types of urns. Again, you should check with the cemetery if you're going to place the urn at the cemetery, to make sure it's something that they allow.
Do I have to purchase an urn from a funeral home?
You do not have to purchase an urn from a funeral home. One will be provided to you. A durable container will be given to you for the removal of the remains from the actual funeral establishment itself. However, you can transfer those cremated remains into any type of urn you want to, after you leave the funeral establishment.
What are "cremated remains" or "ashes"?
Cremation remains or ashes are what you have when the body is reduced down to its purest form, which is small bone fragments. When you're scattering cremated remains or ashes, you want to be sure to pour the ashes, not throw them up in the air. You could end up with your cremated remains back all over yourself.
Are there legal restrictions about what I can do with cremated remains?
There are some legal restrictions on what you can do with cremated remains or ashes. You should really check with your local health department to make sure that what you plan on doing with the ashes is legal. In most cases, it's perfectly fine to scatter cremation remains anywhere, as long as you have permission of the person who owns the property, or a permit for such a thing as a state or national park. You can obtain a permit from those places, and they'll allow you to scatter the cremated remains. Maybe choose a place that you really loved to go, and take this into consideration when you're thinking of scattering the cremated remains.
What are alternative ways to preserve cremated remains?
There are several different alternative ways to preserve cremated remains or ashes. One of the ways is a company called Life Gem and they actually use the carbon from the brain to make a diamond which you could wear as jewelry. Another alternative way would be to actually have part of the cremated remains placed in a locket or some sort of jewelry that you could wear around your neck. Another alternative that I've heard of is using the cremated remains in paint and actually painting a portrait of the person. You should check with your local health registration district to make sure that those are all legal uses of cremated remains where you are.
Can I send my loved one's cremated remains into space?
You can send your loved one's cremated remains into space. It's done by a rocket - it's actually sent out into space. The cost of this depends on how far into space you want those cremated remains to go, whether you want just a simple trip around the earth or for the ashes to be off into deep space. The cost ranges anywhere from just under $5 to somewhere over $12,.