Cremation is the process by which a body is exposed to extreme heat, usually 1800 - 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more. Through this process the body is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as the "cremated remains" or "cremains". Cremation occurs at a crematorium in a special kind of furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes. They are, in fact, bone fragments. In other countries, these fragments are further reduced in size through a mechanical process and that is how the term "ashes" resulted. However, in the United States, no mechanical process to reduce the fragments occurs, and that is why the term "cremains" is used. After the cremation, the cremains are placed in a temporary container that is suitable for transport. Depending upon the size of the body, there are nomally three to nine pounds of cremains. Illinois regulations allow only one cremation of human remains to take place at a time in a retort.
Families selecting cremation have many options for services. Some regard cremation as an alternative to a funeral, when in reality, it is an alternative to burial or entombment. The same options available with earth burial are available with cremation.
You do not have to have a casket, if you only wish to be cremated. However, if you wish to have a visitation and funeral prior to cremation, our funeral home can provide a rental casket. This casket has a removable cremation tray and bed with interior. Then, if you select this option, you only rent the casket for the visitation and services and the cremation tray is removed with your remains to be cremated.
Some of other choices include: the location of the funeral service, the selection of music, and a display of photographs, awards or personal effects. Generally, the visitation and service is held and then, instead of going to the cemetery, we proceed to the crematorium. Cremation doesn't limit the opportunity for gathering, viewing and a service, whether it be formal or contemporary.
It is important to remember that cremation is just the intial means of disposition. The final disposition must also take place when cremation has been selected. The cremated body is often placed in an urn which is interred in the ground or placed in columbarium. In rare cases, where religion, legislation and bylaws allow, the cremated body is scattered upon private property. This method of final disposition does not allow for a formal place of memorialization. Since the cremated remains are in fact, the body in a different form, they must always be treated with reverence.
We have had some questions as to whether or not a certain faith allows cremation. If you are Catholic, the Catholic Church has a pamphlet that gives answers to some of questions concerning cremation, the Funeral Liturgy, and the Catholic Church. We would be pleased to forward a copy of the pamphlet to you, if there are questions about cremation and you are Catholic.
In some cases, services are held after the cremation. The urn containing the cremated remains can be present for a memorial service or a memorial service and gravesite service combination or gravesite service.
A separate site which delves into more detail regarding cremation options is available through www.cremation-options.com.