Planning a Funeral
Guides and Resources
Expressions of Sympathy™
What Happens During Cremation
Cremation is another form of disposition or handling a body after death. However, many people don't know what happens during cremation.
Cremation takes place in a carefully maintained facility known as a crematory or crematorium. The funeral home may or may not have its own crematory on site, but your funeral director can take care of all arrangements either way.
Within the crematory is a special cremation chamber. The body is placed in a cremation container or casket and positioned inside the cremation chamber. Once the container or casket is in the cremation chamber, the door is tightly sealed. The operator then turns on gas jets, which create intense heat that reduces the body to bone fragments. This process takes approximately 2-3 hours.
After the cremation, the remains are collected and processed to the consistency of sand or a finer ash. The white or grayish remains, often called cremated remains at this stage, are then sealed in a transparent plastic bag along with an identification tag. The bag weighs about 5 lbs. and will often be returned to the family in a selected urn, which can then be buried, placed in a niche inside a columbarium, taken home or transported for scattering. Additionally, the cremated remains can be separated and placed into multiple urns, keepsakes or even jewelry specifically designed as a final resting place.
Cremation is a respectful, dignified process chosen by many families. However, some faiths discourage or prohibit cremation. If you plan to hold a religious funeral ceremony or have the remains buried in a church cemetery, check in advance to make sure there are no issues.