Brian Campbell

With cremation becoming increasingly more popular, there are a number of questions that people thinking about their final time on our planet are beginning to ask. Here is an attempt to answer some of the most common questions.

What is cremation?
Cremation is method of handling a person’s final remains by placing it into a retort, a brick lined machine with afterburners which incinerates the body at an extremely high temperature and reduces it to dust and bone fragments. It is then placed in a reducing machine called a cremulator, which further reduces to fine dust. The process, including cool down, takes at least three hours.

What happens with jewelry and gold teeth during cremation?
Jewelry is removed and returned to the family, or if the family wishes, can be placed in the urn with the cremated remains.  Items such as gold teeth will usually be incinerated in the cremation process, unless the family wishes to have them removed and given back. Items such as hip and knee replacements usually remain and are often sent to a remanufacturing firm to be melted down and remanufactured for medical use. Pacemakers and defibrillator devices must be disconnected and removed prior to cremation, as the cremation process may cause them to explode.

Does cremation contribute to greenhouse gasses?
Although there is a minute amount of greenhouse gases, the cremation process is almost 100% efficient. The afterburners in the crematory retort give off little more than heat waves and extremely little smoke and pollutants.

Does my religion allow cremation?
This is something that you will need to check with your church, as the answer varies from religion to religion and church to church. The Jewish and Muslim religions do not allow cremation, whereas the Hindu religion prefers it. Cremation is acceptable to Buddhists, as long as priests are able to attend and chant during the cremation process. The greatest variance in the opinion of cremation is in the Christian community. Roman Catholics usually are accepting of cremation, as long as there is a proper service with the body in attendance prior to the cremation.  There are additional rules regarding what to do with the remains. Other factions vary from church to church, particularly within the Orthodox religions. This is something you may want to check out in advance.

What else should I know about cremation?
These are only a few answers to some of the most common questions about cremation.  There are more; you may have thought of some yourself. The fact is, our time on this earth is finite and we really need to think about what happens when we are no longer here. Take some time, visit a funeral director with your significant other or a trusted family member, ask all questions you have and make a few plans for the future. Your family will thank you.