Cremation and Tradition
Cremation and Religion
Cremation vs. Burial
Cremation services are a topic of increasing interest as the tradition of cremation itself becomes more and more prevalent throughout the developed world. In the earliest days of human history, cremation services were usually quite simple affairs, handled by grieving family and friends themselves. Groups of residents of a village would gather upon the death of one of their own and work together to build a giant wooden funeral pyre around which a formal ceremony would take place before, after the cremation itself. Building the pyre and arranging the ceremony were once the only cremation services that were typically required or even desired. But things have certainly changed in the intervening centuries. Here is a brief look at some of the cremation services that are almost routinely requested and needed by families today. As you peruse this article, you may be surprised to discover that you were not familiar with some of the cremation services we mention.
Maybe the most important of cremation service available today are those that help families with the emotional issues surrounding cremation. These cremation services that tackle the emotional realm involve a great number of different disciplines and professions, ranging from clergy to mental health to even funeral directors and cemetery attendants. The first two in that last sentence may seem obvious, as those particular areas of expertise tend to specialize in helping families cope adequately with troubling emotional issues such as those that come about when a loved one passes away. But funeral directors and cemetery attendants may not seem to be the best choice for an emotional confidant in your time of need. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Funeral directors and employees of cemeteries are typically very caring people who have years of experience in listening to people who are emotionally distraught. Even if their “education” has been informal, these people are still armed with a wealth of experience of counseling grieving family members. In fact, many funeral homes and cemeteries give their employees informal titles of “grief counselor,” and grief counseling is one of the important, usually complimentary, cremation services that these establishments provide.
Another cremation service that may be daunting if a family tries to take this on independently is, simply put, the paper work required by government agencies before every cremation. Understandably, since cremation is an irreversible process, the vast majority (if not all) state and local governments in the United States, have a vested interest in making sure cremations are done only after all questions about the cause of death have been answered completely. So, for these reason, even in the most routine of cases, a number of experts and authorities must formally approve a cremation, and obtaining formal and legal documentation of this approval is an important cremation service that most crematories and funeral homes can typically handle well. In most cases this cremation service can be done more or less entirely behind the scenes with little or no bother to the grieving family but, nevertheless, it is a cremation service that simply cannot be overlooked.
Yet another cremation service that many families require is assistance with the transfer of ashes to their final resting place. In most cases, the crematory or funeral home that performs the cremation will return the cremation remains (also known as simply ashes) to the family in a cardboard or plastic container that has a generic look and is intended to be a temporary storage place. Families will occasionally leave the ashes in this temporary container indefinitely (and there is nothing wrong with doing that, of course, if that's the desire of the family), but, more often, the family will select a more elaborately designed urn in which to display the cremation ashes permanently. In these later cases (which constitute the majority) most any crematory or funeral home will be glad to perform the transfer of the ashes from the temporary container to the new one, and, in most cases, this cremation service will be complimentary – even in cases in which the family finally decides upon a permanent urn years or decades after their loved one has died, the charge for transferring the ashes will typically never be more than simply a few dollars. Many families, of course, are comfortable performing this cremation service themselves rather than relying upon a death care professional. And that is perfectly acceptable. There are no laws or regulations that prohibit families from transferring the ashes themselves. But families can be comforted to know that, if emotions and other factors will not allow them to conduct the transfer, this particular cremation service is readily available simply just for asking.
An important thing to remember about cremation services is that most are entirely optional. While is probably illegal in most places of the United States to conduct the cremation itself independently (such as on a funeral pyre, as it once was common practice in most of the world), all other services related to cremation are typically optional. Families can choose to scatter their loved ones ashes without the use of a cremation services professional. Ashes may be stored in any manner a family considers appropriate, and families may share their ashes amongst themselves and other in any way that fits their desires and wishes. Likewise, all of the paper work required by law before a cremation may take place can be done entirely by family members working independently. In short, the cremation services typically offered by death care professional are often very comforting and convenient. But only rarely are they required – and, in fact, it is often illegal for professionals to even suggest that they are required. So, while the cremation services we discuss here (and others) are readily available upon request, it is important for families who have lost a loved one to be very careful to order only the services they need and desire. In many cases, as we noted above, the cremation services are included complimentary as part of a typical cremation and that can be a very comforting thing for any family experiencing the grief of losing a precious friend and loved one.