Common Questions about Cremation
Q. What is cremation?
A. Cremation is one way in which the body is handled after death. Cremation is not a final disposition of the remains or a type of funeral ceremony. Simply, and frankly, cremation is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.
Q. What remembrance services are available with cremation?
A. Any traditional funeral service with the body present can precede the cremation. Alternatively, a memorial service can take place after the cremation has been completed. Visitation can also occur prior to the funeral or memorial service. A final gathering may occur at a cemetery or columbarium for an inurnment or when the cremated remains are to be scattered. For additional information, visit CEREMONIES OVERVIEW.
Q. What are the legal requirements for cremation?
A. In Michigan, the signature(s) of the next of kin is required for cremation authorization. A county cremation permit is also required, and this requires a signed death certificate. A signed death certificate requires a funeral director’s signature.
Q. Do people choose cremation only to save money?
A. While some select cremation for financial reasons, many choose it for other reasons. For many, cremation offers desired flexibility in remembrance service planning and final disposition. Some religious and ethnic traditions favor cremation. Still others may prefer it for land-use concerns. If you have financial concerns, please talk to the funeral director. Together you will determine which service choices best serve your family.
Q. Do you have a crematory?
A. In Michigan, as a consumer protection, a funeral home cannot own a crematory. To ensure the highest quality of service to the families we serve, A.J. Desmond & Sons uses only two area crematories. Each has a highly professional staff and the finest facilities, and operates with rigorous procedures and the highest ethical standards. We always accompany the deceased to the crematory and, if you wish, you may also.
Q. Is a casket needed for cremation?
A. No, a casket is not required for cremation. Local crematories do require a rigid container that is cremated with the body, which may either be a casket or an inexpensive basic container. The container is consumed during the cremation process and should not be confused with an urn. If there is any public service with the deceased present before the cremation, a casket is necessary. For each particular situation, we offer a selection of dignified and affordable caskets and containers. Visit CREMATION MERCHANDISE for more information.
Q. How long does the actual cremation take?
A. For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees F to 2,000 degrees F in a specialized chamber called a retort. After a few hours the cremated remains are cooled and the remaining bone fragments are pulverized. All is then placed in a temporary container or an urn selected by the family. The entire process takes about six hours.
Q. What do the cremated remains look like? How much do they weigh?
A. Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between six to eight pounds.
Q. What can be done with the cremated remains?
A. There are many options. Cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery or cremation garden, kept at home, scattered on private property, or inurned in a columbarium. (A columbarium is a free standing wall or is part of a mausoleum or church with niches where an urn can be permanently placed.) Some families create jewelry or other keepsakes with cremated remains. Visit KEEPSAKES for more information.
Q. Do I need an urn?
A. An urn is not necessary, but is appropriate in most cases. The temporary crematory container is adequate to locally transport the cremated remains. Your plans for the cremated remains likely will determine the kind of urn chosen. If there is to be a memorial service, a decorative urn may be desired. A cemetery or columbarium often has urn requirements. Home display or garden placement may suggest other urns. Also, there are urns specifically designed for the scattering of cremated remains. In addition, keepsake urns and jewelry are available. Whatever your needs may be, we offer a wide selection of urns. Visit CREMATION MERCHANDISE for more information or ideas.
Q. Is embalming required prior to cremation?
A. Embalming is required if the cremation does not take place within 48 hours after death or under a few other specific circumstances. If there is to be a public ceremony with the deceased present, we normally require embalming. In most other situations, embalming is not required.
Q. Can the deceased be viewed without embalming?
A. Yes, immediate family members may view the deceased prior to cremation in our private viewing room. The deceased is washed, dressed and prepared for viewing. Families that have a final farewell with the deceased before cremation tell us this is a cherished time.
Q. Is cremation accepted by all religions?
A. Today most religions allow cremation. Those that do not include Eastern Orthodox, Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, and a few Fundamentalist Christian faiths. In some religions, it is a tradition. The Catholic Church accepts cremation as long as it is not chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teachings and that the ashes are not divided or scattered.
Q. Can an urn be brought into church?
A. Though many religions allow for the urn to be present during the service, it is advised that you consult with your individual pastor.
Q. I still have more questions. What should I do?
A. Call us. We are here to help in any way we can. This is also a very comprehensive website, so please explore.