Though cremation is something we have all heard of, there is so much about it that many people do not know. As cremation continues to grow as the number one choice for those who have passed or are preplanning their final arrangements, we wanted to share some important facts with you.
1. You can still have a funeral if you are cremated
It is a common misconception that you cannot have a funeral if you are cremated, but there is no reason not to! We often associate funerals with a traditional burial, so many people mistakenly assume that when someone is cremated, you cannot still have a traditional funeral service.
The opposite is true though. Although it does happen that some people choose not to have a funeral when their loved one has been cremated, it’s not at all uncommon for people to hold a funeral before or after a cremation. You can even rent a casket to have a visitation prior to cremation.
2. What we call “ashes” are not really ashes
Outside of the funeral industry, cremated remains are often referred to as “ashes” although that is not what they are. The remains you are given after someone is cremated only resemble ashes so people often think that is what they are.
Once the initial phase of the cremation process is completed, all that remains are bone fragments. The fragments are mechanically reduced to an ash-like look and consistency. They may look like ashes, but they are not. They are called “cremated remains” or “cremains” instead of ashes.
3. Cremation is chosen significantly more often than burial now
Even though cremation is an option, many people still believe that burial is the traditional option as a means of disposing of a dead body. But that is rapidly changing.
Cremation has quickly become the more popular option with about 70% of Canadians now choosing cremation, and that number is climbing consistently. For most, this is because cremation is viewed as more economical, environmentally friendly and because of changes to religious expectations and observances.
4. Cremation has been around for a very long time
While some consider the rise of cremation to be a new phenomenon, this is somewhat ironic when you consider how old cremation actually is.
Though the methods for cremation have changed and evolved dramatically over time, cremation has been a fairly widespread method of disposing of remains in the Western world dating back as far as 1,000 BC. It’s suspected that other cultures have been cremating bodies in some capacity for thousands of years before that as well.
5. The temperatures used in cremation are very high
One would assume that temperatures need to be fairly high in the cremation chamber to completely incinerate bodies, but just how high can come as a shock or even be a bit unfathomable to someone.
To ensure the body fully disintegrates, temperatures of between 1600 degrees F to 1800 degrees F are required. Despite the extremely high temperatures, the cremation process doesn’t immediately incinerate the body. The full process can actually take a few hours.
6. Japan leads the world in cremations by a wide margin
Research shows that Japan has a cremation rate that may be as high as 99.9%. No other country in the world cremates their dead at those rates, making it a rather interesting fact about cremation.
Cremation’s popularity in Japan basically boils down to practicality. Although it wasn’t too long ago that cremation was still the subject of a legal, religious and cultural debate in Japan, over time, cremation became more common than burial because Japan was running out of space. They have been around a long time as a civilization and have limited space being an island.
7. There are some unique things that can be done with cremated remains
Although some regions have laws that don’t allow you to bury or scatter cremains in certain areas (usually due to environmental concerns), people still have many options to choose from when deciding what to do with a deceased person’s cremains. Click here for the current rules and regulations surrounding scattering cremains in Alberta.
Storing cremains in an urn or scattering them are not your only options. You can choose to bury the cremains in a cemetery or put them in a columbarium. You can also custom order an urn in a special shape or turn cremains into stones, shotgun shells, fireworks, diamonds or jewelry. You can have them become part of a living reef or blown into a glass sculpture. There really are so many creative options!
As you can see, there are many facts about cremation that people may have misunderstood or are just not aware of. As cremation becomes a more and more popular choice, it is important to understand it and the options it presents.
If you have any questions about cremation (or burial), please feel free to contact us and one of our team will be happy to help!