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All About Cremation
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It's no secret: cremation rates continue to soar, and one of the reasons for its growing popularity has to do with its lower cost of cremation. For families and individuals concerned about the cost of end-of-life care, we're here to say direct cremation could be their best option. If you'd like to know more about this affordable cremation option, we urge you to read further. You'll discover the answer to the question "what is cremation?" and "how cremation works", and learn exactly what services are included when you select direct cremation over other cremation service alternatives.
NBC Anchor Tyler Mathisen, in "Cremation is the Hottest Trend in the Funeral Industry" (published online in January of 2013) simply says "Cremation is cheaper than burial". He goes on to tell his readers: "The average cost of a funeral today is about $6,500, including the typical $2,000-or-more cost of a casket. Add a burial vault, and the average jumps to around $7,700.
A cremation, by contrast, typically costs a third of those amounts, or less." For families and individuals concerned about the cost of end-of-life care, we're here to say direct cremation could be their best option.
Here's the truth of direct cremation: it involves only the minimal services required. That is to say, when you choose this most basic cremation alternative, only the following services will be provided:
Preparing the Body for Cremation. The individual's personal effects and surgical appliances (such as a pacemaker) are removed, and the body is placed in a cremation casket selected by the family, or alternative cremation container. A metal identification tag is added, to ensure proper identification throughout the cremation process. It will be cremated with the body to allow for proper identification of the cremated remains when removed from the retort.
What Happens at the Crematory? Once a deceased individual arrives at the crematory, his or her identity is once again verified by all professionals involved. If the required waiting period (anywhere from 24 to 72 hours) has yet to expire; the individual will be placed in a refrigeration unit for safekeeping. When this period has been satisfactorily completed, the individual will be placed with all due care into the retort for the actual process of cremation.
How Long Does Cremation Take? It usually takes about two, to two-and-a-half hours for a body to be completely reduced to just the bone fragments by the cremation process (the time involved is largely dependent on the age of the retort being used, but the size and weight of the physical remains is also a factor).
What are the Ashes? Once the cremation is complete, there needs to be a cool-down period, so the bone fragments are sufficiently cooled before handling. When cooled, the cremated remains are respectfully removed by being carefully “swept” from the retort. Afterwards, all metal debris (such as a surgical pin or titanium joint) is removed manually from the cremated remains. What remains is then put into a special processor designed to pulverize the bone fragments to a finer consistency. This material, commonly known as "ashes", is then placed inside a plastic bag within a temporary plastic or cardboard cremation container. Finally, arrangements are made for their transfer and safekeeping consistent with original paperwork signed by the next of kin.
While the low cost of direct cremation is certainly a benefit, and for many it's the primary benefit; there are others you should also consider. When you select direct cremation for a loved one (or as part of your pre-arrangement planning):
No embalming is required. Since there is no public event, such as a viewing or funeral service, where the body will be seen by family members and guests; there is no need for extensive body preparations.
The purchase of a casket is unnecessary. The body is cremated in a simple cardboard container, rather than a traditional casket. And the money you save can later be used to purchase a more appropriate cremation urn in which to safeguard your loved one's cremated remains.
More planning flexibility. There's greater flexibility in the planning of a memorial service or celebration-of-life. No longer are you "tied to" the immediate scheduling of traditional funeral events, held prior to burial or cremation. In fact, simply by choosing cremation you've got this same flexibility; yet by choosing direct cremation, you've saved a significant amount of money (which can later be used to pay for the memorial service or celebration-of-life).
Did you know, when you're shopping for funeral service providers–including those offering direct cremation–you're protected by something called the Funeral Rule? Enacted by the Federal Trade Commission in 1984 (and amended some ten years later), the Funeral Rule was intended to ensure American consumers receive enough factual information about the goods and services available to them from a funeral home or direct cremation provider. Here are the important points about the Funeral Rule you'll want to be aware of:
The Funeral Rule makes it possible for you to compare prices between funeral service providers, but you should be aware the "rule does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and monument dealers, or to cemeteries that lack an on-site funeral home." (For more information on the Funeral Rule, consult the Federal Trade Commission.)
Assess which factors are most important to you (see Making the Decision for guidelines). If you (or your family) are struggling with making the cremation decision, or would like more information about the benefits of direct cremation, we invite you to call us at 212-473-2220 to discuss your cremation options in greater detail.
Online Sources: Raymond, Chris, "What is Direct Cremation?", About.com, accessed 2014