Cremation and Aquamation
Alternatives to your body being buried
More and more people are choosing cremation as their choice of disposition for a variety of reasons - philosophical, religious, economical, environmental or because they want something simpler and more natural.
Whatever the reason, if you are thinking about cremation, it's important to know and understand the choices available.
What is cremation?
Cremation is reducing the body to tiny bone fragments by either one of two methods:
- Traditional Cremation: The process of applying intense heat for 2 to 3 hours to a body in a cremation chamber (retort), resulting in 3 to 7 pounds of tiny bone fragments known as cremains (cremated remains).
- Aquamation: Also known as flameless cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, is the same process that occurs as part of nature's course when a body is laid to rest in the soil. The body is placed in a clean, stainless steel vessel. It is a combination of gentle water flow, temperature and a catalyst called alkali, made from sodium and potassium salts which accelerates nature's process of breakdown. With aquamation, there are no direct emissions of harmful greenhouse gases or mercury to the atmosphere. See the video on aquamation.
Options for celebrating your loved one when choosing cremation
It is important to know that Cremation is only a process for the final disposition.
There are many options honoring a loved one, if you choose cremation:
- A Visitation, with your loved one's body present
This can be a day of visitation or just a couple of hours, giving family and friends an opportunity to gather and provide comfort and support to one another. A service would follow either at the funeral home or at church. At the end of the service, your loved one would be taken privately to the crematory.
- A Private Visitation and Ceremony
This is similar to a visitation and service with the exception that only family members and close friends are invited to attend.
- A Private Viewing
This is when the family briefly wants to see the person for the last time to say good bye and not have a formal time of viewing.
- Direct Cremation
This is when there is no viewing or ceremony. A person's body is directly cremated.
- Memorial Ceremony with Cremains (instead of the body) present in an urn with a visitation/service at the funeral home.
A service either religious or secular that is individualized with musical selections, reading, eulogies and displays that reflect your loved one's life. A memorial visitation can also be held at church, with a mass or service at the church.
Options for Memorializing your loved one's Cremains
Here are some of the many options for honoring your loved one's cremains:
- Burial: Cremains can be buried in a grave at the cemetery, giving you a place to visit and remember your loved one.
- Placed in a Columbarium which is a wall with niches that store cremation urns. Similar in purpose to mausoleum crypts (which hold bodies). Columbariums can also be inside mausoleums. A niche is a single compartment within the columbarium that holds a person's cremated remains. It can be indoors or outside. The front can be clear glass to display the urn or made of granite or marble with person's name on it.
- Keep in a special place at your home
- Have a diamond made from the cremains
- Mix with seeds to plant a tree or plant
- Become part of a coral reef
- Scattered in a place of significance, such as at sea, in the ocean, in a meadow, or a favorite park, at a favorite place
- Placed in jewelry that can be given to family members
- Used as part of artwork
- Hand blown jewelry with the cremains inside
- Parting Stones are stones made from the cremains that can be given to family members. Click here for more information on Parting Stones.
- Placed in individual keepsakes that can be given to family members
The options are endless.
Your decision for Memorializing your loved one can be a creative and thoughtful reflection of how to honor their life and also an important way to begin to let go and begin to heal. We are here to offer suggestions and provide information and advice.