Questions About Cremation
Choosing Cremation Doesn't Mean You Have to Omit Funeral Services
Traditional or contemporary funeral services can be held before cremation.
Funeral Services - YES
Cremation - YES
Contrary to what you may have heard - choosing cremation does not mean that you can't have a funeral service as well. Holding a traditional or contemporary funeral service before cremation is an important first step to begin the healing process. Whether a traditional or contemporary service, studies show that funeral services are of value.
A survey of Pennsylvania funeral homes revealed that 93% of the families served held some type of funeral service, including those who had selected cremation as the final disposition. Families in Pennsylvania realize the importance of funeral services that:
Provide an opportunity to express feelings of grief
Encourage sharing of one's life and memories
Create a forum to share spiritual values and beliefs
Serve as a rite of passage
ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT CREMATION
Must I consult a funeral director?
In Pennsylvania, only licensed funeral directors can enter into contracts for cremation and funeral services.
Can we still have a viewing?
Yes. Choosing cremation does not preclude having any type of funeral service. Traditional or contemporary services can be held before the cremation process. Please see The Value of a Funeral for further information.
What can I do with the remains?
Many people choose to place the remains in an urn, which can then be buried, placed in a columbarium or kept at home. Others may want to scatter the cremated remains in a location that held a special significance.
How long has cremation been around?
The practice of cremation dates back to 3000 B.C. in Europe and the near East.
When did cremation start in the United States?
In 1876, Dr. F. Julius LeMoyne, a prominent Washington, PA physician, built the first U.S. crematory. The first public crematory, located in Lancaster, PA, opened in 1884.
Are there any religious restrictions?
Most religions now permit cremation. In 1963, Pope Paul VI changed the Catholic church's standing and began to allow cremation. If you have questions specific to your religion, please consult a licensed funeral director.
"The funeral ritual is unsurpassed in providing a good beginning for the healthy grieving process."
Therese A. Rando, Ph.D
In the United States, in 1972, only five percent chose cremation. That number had risen to 36% in 2010.
The Cremation Association of North America predicts that by 2025, that figure will rise to 58%.
Our current cremation rate at Hoffman Funeral Home & Cremation Services is about 20-25%. Of those 20-25% who choose cremation, most have some type of memorial service.
In Canada, the rate is already over 42%; in Great Britain, 71%; and over 98% in Japan.
Here are some other reasons you might choose cremation:
Cremation is traditional in your family, religious group or geographical area.
You prefer the body to be returned quickly and cleanly to the elements. Many people believe that a cremated body becomes one with nature more quickly.
You have environmental concerns. Perhaps you are worried about the use of valuable land for cemetery space or believe it is wrong to fill the ground with material that won't erode such as metal coffins and concrete vaults.
You want to keep costs down. Selecting cremation usually is less expensive than a traditional service, however, you may still choose a casket, if there is to be a viewing, or you may select an urn or an urn vault. You may choose to have the cremated remains buried in a cemetery or placed in a columbarium. These choices will increase the total cost of your funeral.
Those who choose cremation (for themselves or others) often hold the belief that it is better to honor the memory of the person, not the dead body.
If you are distributing or scattering the remains:
Some jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the scattering of remains; others require a permit. Ask your funeral director.
Think of places that were especially loved by the deceased, close to home or far away. You can walk in the woods, by a favorite lake, or on the old family farm.
Be sure to ask permission if you want to use private property.
What about using the remains to create new life, by planting a tree? Some survivors choose to mix the remains with the soil in flowerbeds and rose gardens at home. Every time the roses bloom, you will be reminded of your loved one. If you decide to do this, however, consider what will happen if, some day, you move away.