Cremation is the process by which a body is exposed to extreme heat, usually 1800 - 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more. Through this process the body is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as the "cremated body" or "cremated remains". Cremation occurs at a crematorium in a special kind of furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes. They are, in fact, bone fragments. These fragments are further reduced in size through a mechanical process. After preparation, these elements are placed in a temporary container that is suitable for transport. Depending upon the size of the body, there are normally three to nine pounds of fragments resulting. Ontario regulations allow only one cremation to take place at a time in a retort.
Families selecting cremation have many options for services. Some regard cremation as an alternative to a funeral, when in reality, it is an alternative to burial or entombment. The same options available with earth burial are available with cremation. Some of these choices include: the type of casket, the location of the funeral service, the selection of music, an open casket, and a display of photographs, awards or personal effects. Generally, the same visitation and service is held and then, instead of going to the cemetery, we proceed to the crematorium. Cremation doesn't limit the opportunity for gathering, viewing and a service, whether it be formal or contemporary. Most religions and cultures prefer this. It is important to remember that cremation is just the initial means of disposition. The final disposition must also take place when cremation has been selected. The cremated body is often placed in an urn which is interred in the ground or placed in columbarium. In rare cases, where religion, legislation and bylaws allow, the cremated body is scattered upon private property. This is not the preferred method of final disposition as it does not allow for a formal place of memorialization. Since the cremated remains are in fact, the body in a different form, they must always be treated with reverence.
In some cases, services are held after the cremation procedure and the urn containing the cremated body is present.
We would be pleased to forward a copy of the pamphlet entitled Cremation - Talking About It, produced by the Ontario Funeral Service Association.
A separate site which delves into more detail regarding cremation options is available through www.cremation-options.com.