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Can You Watch a Cremation?

Cremation is a ritual that has been around for centuries, with different religious and cultural beliefs surrounding it. It is becoming more common in recent years in the U.S. as an alternative to burial, but many people have questions about what it entails and whether or not they can watch a cremation.

What is a cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing a deceased person’s body to ash and bone fragments through intense heat. It is typically done in a crematorium, which is a specialized facility that has all of the necessary equipment. The cremation process has a few steps:

  1. The body is first placed in a casket or cremation container and then brought into the crematorium, where it is placed in a special chamber.
  2. The chamber is heated up to between 1400°F and 1800°F and remains heated for two to three hours, until the body has been reduced to bone fragments.
  3. The remaining bone fragments are then ground down into ash and placed in an urn and returned to the family.

How long does cremation usually take?

The amount of time it takes to complete a cremation depends on the weight and age of the deceased person. Generally, it can take anywhere from two to four hours for a typical adult body.

However, there are some situations where the process may be quicker or slower than usual. For example, if the deceased had medical implants, such as pacemakers, that need to be removed at the beginning of the cremation process, it may take longer.

Can you watch a cremation?

In some cases, you may be able to witness the cremation. The rules regarding watching the cremation are typically set in place by the cremation provider you're working with. It's important to note that certain facilities will not allow you to watch a cremation -- if watching the cremation is important to you, this is definitely a question you'd want to ask the cremation provider before working with them.

In general, you're more likely to be able to witness the cremation when working with larger cremation providers, as they'll have accommodations (such as a cremation viewing room) to enable you to watch. Smaller cremation providers may not be equipped to provide a safe and respectful experience for those who want to watch.

What to expect when witnessing a cremation

If you do opt to watch the cremation, it's important to remember that it may be an intense or emotional experience. It can also be a time for reflection, allowing those who choose to watch to further connect with and remember their loved one.

One important piece to note is that though you're witnessing the cremation, you won't actually be seeing the body of the deceased person. As previously mentioned, the body is placed in a casket or cremation container before it's moved into the chamber. In addition to this, the body is placed in an enclosed cremation chamber, so there isn't a way to watch every single part of the process.

Why do people choose to witness a cremation?

There are a handful of reasons why witnessing a cremation is important for some families. Some reasons include:

  • It's a way for them to honor and pay respect to their loved one in a meaningful way.
  • Having the opportunity to watch the process can provide closure for some individuals, helping them move on from their loss.
  • Being part of the cremation process is seen as an important part of the grieving process by some cultures or religions, such as in Japanese cremations, where the family is involved in removing bone fragments from the ashes.

On the other hand, some individuals may choose not to watch the cremation because it's too emotional or painful for them. This is completely understandable and should not be looked down upon. Everyone deals with grief in their own way and it's important to respect how someone chooses to handle their loss.

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to watch a cremation is completely up to you. If you do decide to witness the cremation, it's important that you take steps to ensure that the experience is safe and respectful. Be sure to listen carefully to the instructions of the funeral home staff and remember that witnessing this process is different for everyone.

If you're planning a funeral and know you and your loved ones want to witness the cremation, it's important that you ask the funeral home or cremation provider about this in advance -- there are no laws requiring funeral homes or cremation providers to allow witnessed cremations, so it's important to ensure this is a possibility before signing a contract.

In charge of planning a funeral? Visit Ever Loved to compare and get in touch with funeral homes, cemeteries, and event spaces in your area. You'll be able to compare pricing, read customer reviews, and get answers to many of your funeral planning questions.

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Last updated January 5, 2023
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