The Cremation Process Step-by-Step

In the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one, it can be upsetting and overwhelming to make the next steps for funeral planning and bringing closure to your family. If your loved one made it clear that their desire was to be cremated or the family has determined this to be the best option, here is a guide to how the process is typically done. 

Pronouncement

The first thing that must happen is an official pronouncement of death by a medical professional, so that a death certificate can be completed. This must include the time and place of death as well as the apparent cause.

An autopsy might be performed by the county coroner, although families with religious objections can sometimes have this waived depending on the situation. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a week. 

Preparation for viewing 

Once medical professionals and authorities have completed all necessary paperwork and investigations, the family member’s remains can then be transported to a funeral home or to the family home for funeral services.

Regardless of where the body will be temporarily kept for the funeral service, a final outfit must be provided so that the body can be prepared for viewing if the family chooses this type of service. Funeral homes will then prepare the body in a final resting pose so that your loved one appears to be sleeping peacefully. This can take a few days to a week. 

If the remains will be cremated, funeral homes can provide a casket rental for the services, which is often more economical than buying a casket. Your family will need to determine whether the service will feature an open or closed casket.

Some families find it easier to say goodbye to their loved ones when they can gaze upon the face of their family member. Other families find this to be too painful, but this is a conversation that the funeral director can spearhead if the issue is difficult to discuss. 

Cremation 

After religious or ritual services have been completed by the family or religious institution, the remains can then be transported to a crematory, and services like Heritage Cremation can make all final arrangements for bereaved families. The loved one’s body must be transported to the crematory in an approved container, often called a cremation coffin.

The family must also provide an acceptable receptacle to transport their loved one’s remains from the facility after cremation. Cremation urns can be purchased depending on where the family plans to inter the remains, or a more economical transport container can also be arranged. 

Interment 

Once the remains have been cremated, the family must decide where the ashes will be laid to rest in a process called interment. While cremated remains can be buried at a cemetery plot per the usual process, many cemeteries also have a garden reserved specifically for the spreading of ashes.

Remains in an urn can also be placed in a small enclosure called a mausoleum or columbarium. This is a small building on the grounds of a cemetery that may contain multiple niches for families to store the urn containing the loved one’s remains. 

If you’re not certain where you wish to inter the ashes, and if your loved one never gave specific instructions prior to passing, it’s important to discuss how the family wishes to interact with those remains in the future, if at all. Some people need a specific place to visit on important anniversaries. Other families opt for an interment at sea or in an approved outdoor setting, and still others keep cremated remains at home. 

The most important part of the process is instilling a feeling that your loved one has been laid peacefully to rest in the most appropriate manner. Care for the grief and suffering of the living should also be addressed whenever possible, so that families can begin to move toward peace and acceptance as well.