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Frequently Asked Questions about Cremation
How much does cremation cost?
If an undertaker is used to transport the deceased, obtain permits, and file
the death certificate, the fee for services may be well over $1,000. The cost
will naturally be higher, if a visitation or a funeral service is held before
cremation. Families who care for their own deceased can use crematories
directly at charges from $100 to $300.
Since 1984, before a funeral purchase, all undertakers are required to
explain the firm's charges in detail. You may also ask for these prices over
What can be done with cremated remains?
They can be placed in a niche in a columbarium, buried, scattered, or kept
by the family. Cremains are sterile and are no pose health risk. New options
are being offered all the time, such as artificial reefs in the ocean into which
cremated remains have been mixed.
A columbarium is an assembly of niches designed to hold containers of
cremains. It is most often located in a mausoleum within a cemetery. Some
churches provide niches within the church or as a part of a memorial wall.
Earth burial can be in a cemetery, either in a grave or in a special urn
garden. Many cemeteries will permit two or three containers in one
adult-size plot. However, the family, can bury the cremains anywhere it
wishes, with the property owner's permission.
Scattering cremains over some area that had significance to the deceased,
appeals to many and is legal in most jurisdictions. Although there are
commercial firms which will handle the cremains for a fee, most families
prefer to do this themselves. Remains should be processed by the crematory
to reduce all fragments to fine particles.
Is a funeral service necessary?
No, although visitation and a funeral service with a body present may be
held before cremation, many have found it helpful to have a memorial
service without the body present. It costs less, and family and friends will
be thankful for the opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of a loved one.
Do I have to hire an undertaker?
Maybe not. Most states permit private citizens, or religious groups to obtain
the required death certificate and permits for transit and disposition.
Must an urn be purchased?
No. Crematories return the cremated remains in a metal, plastic, or
cardboard container that is more than adequate for burial, shipping, or
placing in a columbarium. The family may prefer an aesthetic or other
receptacle. Urns usually cost in excess of $150, however, alternative
containers are equally suitable.
Is a casket required for cremation?
No, a casket is not required for cremation. However, most crematories do
require that the body be enclosed in some type of rigid container. The
Federal Trade Commission Rule of 1984, said that all mortuaries must
make available to the customer an unfinished wooden box or similar
inexpensive cremation container. Customers may make or furnish their own
Can a casket be rented?
In many parts of the country, mortuaries will rent a casket to a family that
wants to have the body present for visitation or for a funeral service
preceding cremation. After the service, the body is moved to an inexpensive
Are "memorial societies" the same as "cremation societies"?
No. The most important difference is that memorial societies are non-profit
consumer groups which are democratic organizations, whereas direct
cremation "societies" operate for profit. They usually do so by charging a
How do religious groups view cremation?
Most religions permit cremation. Since Vatican II Council in 1964, the
Code of Canon Law allows Roman Catholics a choice between burial and
cremation. The Roman Catholic Church has only officially permitted
cremation since 1983.
Rev. Billy Graham responded when asked about cremation,
"At the resurrection it will not make any difference whether a person's body
has been buried or cremated. God knows how to raise the body, either in
the resurrection of life or the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29)."
The Greek and Jewish Orthodox faiths oppose cremation, and some
religions still don't allow it because of it associations with pagan customs.
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