In response to our growing unease when using an off-site crematorium for our families, the O’Connell Family opened our own state-of the-art crematory in 2005. In fact, we are the only funeral home in St. Croix County with an on-site crematory. Because our crematory is located within our funeral home facility, your loved one will never be turned over to the care of a crematory miles away, where they will be attended to by people you’ve never even met. And to best serve the families and individuals within greater St. Croix County and surrounding communities, we chose to operate our crematory privately. This means it is used only for the loved ones of the families we serve.
Something to consider is that not all crematories or cremation services are the same. When making the decision to cremate, it’s important to recognize that there are some very important things to consider when selecting the crematory you will entrust with the care of your loved one.
Here are some basic cremation questions. Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.
First, who is cremating my loved one?
If the cremation provider cannot answer that question, then they cannot be assured they will be taken care of properly. At O’Connells, it’s very simple. Licensed funeral directors Mike O’Connell and Cole Skadsem handle all the cremations; trusted individuals who will follow through in taking the ultimate care of your loved one.
Secondly, will the crematory allow us to stop in and view the crematory?
Again, if not, that should raise great concern. We encourage all of the families we work with to ask any cremation and crematory-related questions they may have; no question is a bad one. And we are more than welcome to accommodate anyone who wishes to inspect the crematory facility. We also feel private family views prior to cremation, as well as ‘witness cremations,’ where the family is present when their loved one is placed in the cremation chamber, are highly meaningful and healing.
Will the crematory provide truly personal and prompt care?
This is not always possible for most cremation services/crematories, because they were built with the intention to serve as many funeral homes and cremation societies as possible. What this means to your family is simple: because of the increased number of cremations performed at these facilities, you can’t be confident your loved one will undergo the cremation process quickly. After all, these facilities can complete only a limited number of cremations each day. That means the chances are very good your loved one’s body will be kept under refrigeration–often for days–until the cremation can occur. Unlike them, we only serve the families that call us. We do not solicit other funeral homes to use our cremation chamber. This means your loved one is promptly taken care of by us from the very moment we get called and thereafter until the cremation has taken place. It is not uncommon for large firms or societies to wait several hours or even the next day before they make removals into their care.
When can we expect cremains returned to us?
What separates our crematory from the large firms or societies is personalized service. Our service is based around a family’s needs. We can cremate overnight, weekends, or holidays. Where others may take weeks to return cremains to families, it takes us only a couple days to complete the process.
How is cremation performed?
Our crematory requires that the deceased’s body be enclosed in a rigid cremation container or special casket (optional), which are typically constructed of wood or cardboard. Using Countryside Crematory, only one body at a time will be cremated in the cremation chamber. Upon entering the chamber, the body will be exposed to a combination of heat and flame, and over a period of 2-3 hours (at temperatures between 1500-2000 degrees F), it will be reduced to its most basic elements and bone fragments.
Upon completion of the cremation, the remains are any other non-consumed materials are removed from the chamber and placed in a stainless steel cooling pan. Through a combination of visual inspection and magnets, any remaining metal work (artificial joints, bridge work, and metal from clothing) are separated from the remains. (Dental elements such as gold and silver are not recoverable and are commingled with the rest of the remains. The remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size, resembling course, whitish or light gray sand. The cremated remains of an average adult usually between 3-9 pounds after cremation.
Is embalming required prior to cremation?
No. In fact, it is illegal for a funeral home to require otherwise. However, issues of time, health, legal regulations, religious or spiritual considerations or other personal preference may make embalming prior to cremation appropriate or necessary.
What other preparation is required?
Preparation, including the possible inclusion of embalming, is often a matter of time and preference, but there are some simple scientific matters that need to be addressed prior to a cremation. One such matter that your funeral director is likely to address is whether the deceased had a pacemaker or similar electro-mechanical device or implant. Such devices should be removed prior to a cremation because they may become dangerous when subjected to the extreme heat of the cremation process.
Can the body be viewed without embalming? Can the cremation be witnessed?
Yes, the O’Connell Family Funeral Home allows immediate family members to briefly view the deceased prior to cremation and in many cases, we will also allow family members to be present during the placement of the body into the cremation chamber.
What can people do with the cremated remains?
There are many options for the permanent resting place of a loved one’s cremated remains. Some families choose traditional cemetery lots. Others prefer cremation gardens, permanent inurnment in a columbarium niche (recessed enclosure bearing an ornamental front with the name and dates), or that the remains be kept at home. Ash scattering has become a more widely accepted form of memorial for many families, but special care must be given to legal, environmental, social, religious, and emotional considerations. Most areas will allow scattering, but even with this kind of ceremony, most families usually still desire some kind of additional, permanent memorial.
How does the cost of cremation compare with traditional burial or entombment?
A cremation service can be less than a traditional funeral, but it’s difficult to make a direct, “apples-to-apples” comparison given the range of services now available through cremation. From casket choices, to gathering ceremonies, to specific kinds of memorials, it’s very possible that some cremation services may cost more than a traditional funeral, or just the opposite. This is why we encourage you to have a candid conversation about costs and benefits with the O’Connell staff.