8 Things You Need to Know About Cremation

Cremation Urn

Cremation opens up so many options for personal expression and celebration. It’s no wonder people are choosing cremation with growing frequency. 

In fact, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, cremation rates are up 15% over the last decade. More than half of all Americans are choosing cremation over burial. And this rate is expected to rise to 79% by 2035. 

But maybe you’re still unsure about what to do for yourself or a loved one. Let’s take a look at eight important cremation considerations that may help you make an informed decision. 

Cremation is a Thoughtful and Thorough Process

Maybe you’re not quite sure how cremation actually works. Before we talk about the process please know that, here at Coastal Funeral Center, we handle every case with the utmost care. We know how much your loved ones meant to you. It is our goal that this process be a thoughtful and thorough one. 

Cremation occurs within a cremator, which is an industrial furnace capable of reaching temperatures between 1,600 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The cremator disintegrates the body into ashes, also referred to as “cremains.” 

The process typically takes between one and four hours depending on the size of the body. Once complete, the resulting ash and bone are removed and processed to a consistent texture, allowing the cremated remains to be interred or scattered per the wishes of the deceased and the family. 

Cremation Opens Up Options for a Creative Celebration of Life Service

With a traditional burial, you face obvious time and location constraints. Not so with cremation. Instead, you can focus on the person who passed and whom you want to memorialize. 

You might ask yourself: What was the essence of his life? What were her passions? What was most important to him? Did she have any prized possessions? What role did family play in his life? What were her favorite colors, foods and places? What milestones marked his life? Was she a prankster? 

The answers to these questions help to inspire a celebration of life service that is unique and authentic–a moving testament to the person of honor. 

With this in mind you can choose your location–on land, on the water or even in the air. Family and friends can gather indoors or outdoors, in groups small or large. A few of the more unique ceremony options we’ve seen include: 

  • Shoreline Memorial service at sea
  • Attended Memorial at sea 
  • Small Family Memorial at a favorite property
  • Memorial at a beloved state or national park location
  • Aerial Scattering via plane, with family members on the plane or viewing the tail stream with the cremated remains from below

And then, of course, you may choose the day and time that works best for everyone involved.

You Can Have a Viewing Service Before Cremation

Experts who help others deal with grief agree that seeing the body of a deceased family member helps loved ones to deal with grief and heal. For this reason, a viewing can be arranged before cremation takes place, giving friends and family members an opportunity to say goodbye in their own way. 

Here at Coastal Funeral Center, you may choose to either rent a casket or purchase a wooden casket that can be cremated with the body after the viewing. 

The Mantle is a Temporary Solution

The cliché of cremation is an urn lovingly displayed on a mantel, bookshelf or bedside table. 

While this may serve some families for a time, it isn’t the best long term solution. 

When considering cremation we have to ask: Who will assume responsibility for the urn in the next generation? Will they offer the same loving care? Will they keep the legacy of the deceased alive? Or will the cremated remains end up in an unintended location only to be forgotten? 

You don’t want your family member’s urn to go the way of the estate sale. Honor their legacy by planning ahead (and don’t worry–we talk more about this below). 

Cremation Does Not Negate Burial

Cremation offers the greatest number of options for interment–yes, even including a traditional burial. 

We already discussed the importance of planning ahead when it comes to cremation and now we’ll take a look at your many options. The best news? You don’t have to choose just one. You might combine several in order to meet the wishes of the family.

These options can be broken up by category and include: 

Outdoor Burial

  • Existing adult burial plot
  • Small sized plot for cremated remains
  • Urn garden
  • Granite-front niche
  • Family church interment

Indoor Interment

  • Mausoleum designed to house both bodies and urns
  • Columbarium or glass niche “memory box”
  • Family church interment

Creative Interment

  • Grave markers
  • Memorial stones
  • Memorial benches
  • Memorial glass
  • Memorial jewelry

Urn Interment
Placing the cremated remains in one or several urns and retaining them in a home or homes is a viable option when the family desires it. We recommend the family create a written generational plan which ensures the cremated remains always have a resting place of loving care.

When it Comes To Scattering Cremated Remains, You Have Options

There are so many meaningful ways to scatter a loved one’s remains, if you choose to do so. Before making this decision, you may find it helpful to talk to close family members to gauge comfort levels. Some people prefer a permanent resting place while others view scattering of ashes in a special place as a joyful and fitting way to honor a loved one. 

If you choose to move forward with scattering the cremated remains, take time to recall the answers to the questions you asked yourself above–about the type of person your loved one was and some of the events, hobbies and happenings that shaped his or her life. This may help you choose from among some of the following scattering options–or even inspire a new idea of your own! 

A few locations you might consider: 

  • Your backyard or land on private property special to your family
  • A scattering garden (typically found at churches, in cemeteries or in memorial parks)
  • A place of outdoor beauty like at sea, the mountains or the lake
  • A local, state or national park

At Coastal Funeral Center, your  Planning Advisor can guide your family in planning for all of these considerations, freeing you to be at ease and focus on your loved ones.

Scattering of Cremated remains Requires Careful Consideration

As you think over the ideas for scattering remains, keep in mind that it’s always best to check for any state or local laws regarding ashes and to fill out any necessary forms beforehand. 

A few other legal considerations include: 

  • Scattering cremated remains on public land in California requires written permission.
  • Scattering cremated remains on federal land (such as in national parks) also require written permission, as well scattering of ashes away from trails or places where people gather. 
  • You may scatter cremated remains in the ocean as long as you are at least 500 yards from shore. 
  • When scattering ashes from an airplane, be sure to drop only the ashes but not the container as this is against federal law. 

Above all else, be courteous of others when choosing the location and method of scattering. 

The Remains Can be Separated

For some families, the path forward following cremation is clear–perhaps you work together to choose a final resting place or maybe you follow your loved one’s wishes for a ceremonial scattering of the ashes. 

But for other families, what’s meaningful to one person is not meaningful to another. Thankfully, cremated remains may be separated and shared. In this way, the family might choose a traditional burial for a portion of the ashes and use the remaining to keep close by in jewelry or a keepsake urn and even scatter some of the remains in a special location. 

In order to split cremated remains, you simply need to request a permit, which we are happy to provide, and pay a small fee of $12 per split. 

If you have any other questions about cremation, our advisors are here to help. Give us a call at (310) 326-6343.