The modern practice of cremation dates back to the 19th century and is a time honored tradition in many European and Eastern cultures. Cremation is becoming more popular in Canada and the U.S. and for many it has become their personal preference.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat. This usually takes from two to three hours and occurs in a special type of furnace known as a cremation chamber. The remaining fragments are then processed into a finer substance and placed in a temporary container. Before the remains are returned to the family, they are usually transferred to an urn for permanent containment.
The Funeral Service Followed by Cremation
This option fits the needs of many families who prefer a more traditional type of funeral. The casket is present and an opportunity for viewing is available, followed by cremation. This preference allows the family to gather and have a time of visitation which for many people is a comforting and meaningful way to strengthen and build on their family ties. This option also allows opportunity for the community as a whole to come together and offer their support at the visitation, funeral and the luncheon which usually follows the service. After the funeral rather than a procession to the cemetery for burial, the cremation will take place and then following the cremation a public or private gathering may be arranged to complete the final placement of the cremated remains.
The Memorial Service
The memorial service provides for many emotional and community needs just like the funeral. The memorial service is usually held after the cremation has taken place and often the cremated remains are present. When the cremated remains are present the service usually includes final placement of the cremated remains, usually at a cemetery. The memorial service also allows for an opportunity for a viewing or visitation prior to the cremation taking place. This may be open to the public or held privately for family only.
A private service may be held when the cremation follows the funeral. In this case the private service is held to commemorate the final placement of the cremated remains. Although this type of service is available, few families will request a completely private service as the only service because some public involvement allows friends and family the opportunity to support and comfort each other.
Immediate or direct cremation can be arranged if requested. Legal requirements and crematorium regulations will require that some family member or legally authorized person identify the remains prior to the cremation.
Other Service Options
The types of services are as different as each individual person is. The psychological benefits of a funeral or memorial service are well established. The trend today is to make the service a meaningful celebration of life. The various personalization choices that are made will help those left behind to move forward in a healthy emotional way. Only our imagination will limit how we choose to express our thoughts and the type of tribute we carry out.