Let’s delve into some of the facts and unknown parts of the cremation process. Cremation is the process in which a body is reduced through the process of combustion and heat, leaving elements that are commonly called cremains or ashes. The cremation process typically takes about three hours from start to finish with optimal temperatures reaching 1675 degrees. The body is reduced to fragments, which are then processed into minute particles called cremains. They are often called ‘ashes’ which actually is incorrect as they are sandy and gritty. Although they are about five pounds, they are not dense and will float when spread in water.
Cremation itself has been around for thousands of years. From the Neolithic Ages to the Middle Ages of Europe and the Middle East, as well as Hinduism and Judaism. Cremation has been an integral part of societal rituals since the beginning of time. Why then has it taken so long for cremation to become popular in the United States? The short answer is Christianity. Many religions believed in the resurrection of the body to be Christ like. Anthropologists noted that cemeteries became the preferred method of burying bodies in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But over the years, as knowledge and education became more abundant, the acceptance of cremation began to swell. Christians believed, although some reluctantly, that “God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as he can resurrect a bowl of dust.” However, following World War II, cremation was looked at by some as horrific because it was used to incinerate the mass killings led by Hitler. Furthermore, cremation was met with resistance by the funeral industry. Many funeral directors thought cremation didn’t represent the type of service they thought families should select for a variety of reasons.
In 2005, O’Connell Family Funeral Homes built our current chapel in Baldwin with a state of the art crematory included. Countryside Crematory was founded and we have served tens of thousands of families with this facility.
The decision to cremate or bury must not be taken lightly. The cremation itself is actually the simplest step in the entire process. What surrounds the cremation and type of goodbye is the foundation of which to build off of. It is as dignified as a traditional casketed body burial. With any planning of services, be it cremation or casket burial, please use this straight forward rule: If it is meaningful and healing, give it GREAT consideration! We may want to select what would appear to be the ‘easiest’ choice, but your emotions and feelings will take the brunt of that decision and will let you know later in ways further down the road of grief.
Cremation gives families several options in celebrating a life while creating a healing event.
Did you know that every state has a period of time that you cannot cremate? Wisconsin has a 48-hour window before cremation can occur. Other states have varying rules, but it averages out to about 48 to 72 hours. The reason for this delay is to allow the local medical examiner to investigate and rule out foul play or negligence. During this delay, it offers a window for families to say goodbye together. We call this a Private View. It is extremely healing, as families are able to spend valuable time with their loved one, with no embalming in their natural state. This can be a simple healing goodbye.
In addition, one can have a more conventional viewing or visitation with the body present for services followed by cremation. Without a doubt, viewing your loved one can be the most healing part of the entire process. It simply cannot be replaced. Seeing your loved one and saying goodbye is difficult. Embrace meaning and take steps to process the loss. That’s how you heal, that’s how you grow.
Once the actual process of cremation is finished, you now have the opportunity to choose how to celebrate your loved one’s life. By definition, a memorial service is a celebration of life literally without a ‘body’. A memorial service will typically have the cremated remains in an urn, which is the vessel that houses cremains as the focal point. We are present for the biggest days of our lives, be it birthdays, graduations, weddings and holidays. Why wouldn’t we be present at our funeral or celebration of life? Although Celebration Of Life denotes an uplifting tribute, having the cremains present offers a needed reality that a loved one is gone. Believe it or not, every part or ritual of a service has significance in acceptance and healing upon the death of someone close to us.
Services can include special music, whether Amazing Grace or Free Bird by Leonard Skynard. Floral arrangements can help tell a story along with pictures, memorabilia, and videos. Casseroles, appetizers, desserts, and a toast at the end of the night can help capture the essence of your loved one. We get one opportunity to create a one of a kind send off. We are uniquely creative and resourceful. We know how to design lasting commemorations that uniquely fit their personality. Let us walk with you, and design an amazing memory for your family and friends.
The next step in the healing process will be deciding what to do with your loved one’s ashes. That decision will ultimately come down to each situation. We highly recommend that you give yourself and your family a place to visit your loved one. The cemetery is the most obvious choice, but that doesn’t mean scattering at the cabin or lake isn’t an option. Did you know that the cremains can be separated into ‘token’ amounts to be spread at special locations, such as a river, scenic park, or deer stand?
For those who want an everlasting keepsake, cremains can be used in a multitude of ways. Cremated remains are reduced to fragments predominantly of carbon. As a result, a cup of cremains can be refined in a process that makes a brilliant diamond. Not cubic zirconia, an actual precious diamond that is flawless in cut, color and clarity.
For those who are more artistic, cremains can be infiltrated into a glass ornament or jewelry that can be worn to keep your loved one close.
For those who want to take artistry to an even higher level, cremains can be infiltrated into ink and used in tattoos. We have biodegradable urns that are designed to be buried with special fertilized dirt and a tree seedling and will grow along with your healing experience.
Cremains can be placed in wind chimes, birdbaths, and even coral reefs. Did you feel your loved one was out of this world? Their cremains can be sent into outer space! If you get the feeling that there are countless options with cremation, you’re not far off. With our cremation specialists, we can assist you in finding your fitting tribute and give your family the greatest gift possible, healing.