Cremation Questions

Here are the answers to some common questions about cremation. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please call us toll free at 844-4CREMPA.

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of using intense heat to reduce a human body to bone fragments. This incineration, which happens in a cremation chamber, takes between two and three hours. The bone fragments are then processed further to produce what looks like coarse, grayish sand. The cremated remains (which most people call ashes) are then put into a temporary or permanent urn of your choice.

Are several bodies cremated together?

No, never. It is not only illegal but also impractical because the cremation chamber is large enough for just one body. Rest assured only one individual is cremated at a time, and the whole process is overseen by a certified crematory operator.

Can personal items be placed with the body in the container?

Items such as jewelry or clothing made from certain materials, including metal, glass, and some PVC and rubber cannot be cremated with a body. If you would like a personal item to be placed in the container next to your loved one, we can tell you what is permitted.

Do the cremated remains include other items like clothing?

The gown that we use to cover your loved one is made from natural fiber, which disintegrates completely at such high temperatures. The same is true of the container. Items like artificial joints and dentures are separated afterwards from the cremated remains using visual inspection and a strong magnet and recycled.

What can I do with the cremated remains?

You have many possibilities. You can ask us to scatter them at sea, or you and your family can scatter them on land. In Pennsylvania, there are no state laws controlling where you may scatter cremated remains but some communities do have restrictions. You may also keep the cremated remains at home, or have them buried in a cemetery or cremation garden. Some people like to have a rose bush to mark the burial site, while others prefer a headstone. Another option is to have the cremated remains placed in urn garden or columbarium niche. If you’d like our guidance on any of these options, please contact us.

Are there any laws regarding cremation?

Each state has its own laws regarding cremation. In addition, there are some federal laws. These laws cover aspects such as how quickly a cremation must take place and who can authorize a cremation. The website of NOLO has plenty of information about burial and cremation laws in Pennsylvania in an accessible format.

How can I be certain I get the right cremated remains?

Operating policies and procedures at the crematory are rigorous to reduce the risk of human error. Additionally, a positive identification system is used throughout the entire cremation process and only certified personnel can operate the equipment. Cremated remains are always labeled to ensure they are easily identified.

Do I need to order an urn?

Yes, you do. We need to have an urn to scatter the cremated remain on your behalf or deliver them you. The basic urn – what we call a utility urn – is included in our package, but you can select another (permanent) urn if you wish.

Do I need to order a casket for the cremation?

No, that’s not necessary. All that the State of Pennsylvania requires is a rigid container (what we call an alternative container). This is cremated with the deceased.

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