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A Guide to Cremation Services

Finding the right cremation service provider can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect. We’ve put together some information around some of the key points when it comes to cremation services so that you can be more informed when choosing your provider.

Overview of cremation

Cremation is the most popular final disposition method. When a cremation is the chosen disposition method, the body will be taken to the crematory and will be placed in a cremation container or casket. The casket or container is then placed into the cremation chamber where the body is then heated to 1,400-2,000 F. After a few hours, any metal is removed using a large magnet and the remaining bone fragments are ground into ashes. The ashes are then returned to the family to keep, bury or scatter as they choose.

Why is cremation surging in popularity?

There are a few reasons why cremation has gained popularity in the United States, but a notable factor is the cost factor. Cremations are significantly less expensive than burials and, in addition, require less add-ons than a burial. Certain religious institutions that previously advised against cremation have also begun to loosen their restrictions over the past few decades, opening up certain religions to the possibility of this method of disposition. Some people also recognize cremation as a more environmentally alternative to burials, especially when there is no embalming taking place.

Cost of cremation

The cost of cremation will vary widely depending on your location and the funeral home or company you choose to work with. In general, you should expect to spend anywhere from $750 to $3,500 on a cremation. A cremation with services will increase the price, as will choosing to use a cremation casket rather than a cremation container. For a more comprehensive overview, read our article about cremation costs. While cremation is generally the more affordable option, it can still be incredibly costly and is a cost most families might not have planned for. Setting up a funeral fundraiser is a great way to raise money to cover unexpected funeral expenses and can be set up in under 15 minutes.

Create a memorial fundraiser

Cost of urns

If you’re choosing cremation as the disposition method, you might be interested in keeping the cremains. When a family chooses to keep the cremains, they usually store them in an urn or split them between family members with cremation jewelry. To ensure you’re purchasing the right size of urn, make sure that the urn you purchase can hold the amount of cremated remains that will be returned to you. For reference, 1 pound = 1 cubic inch in terms of urn sizing, so if the deceased weighed 250 lbs, you’ll need to find an urn that’s at least 250 cubic inches in size. You can purchase an urn directly from your cremation provider or online.

Browse urns

Cremation options

Cremating a loved one doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a traditional funeral or memorial service. Here are some of the common cremations options that you’ll see:

Cremation with a viewing and funeral service If you choose to have a traditional service with a viewing, the body will be embalmed and placed in a rental casket. After the services take place, the body will then be cremated and the ashes returned to the family. This is the most expensive cremation option as you’ll be paying for embalming, the rental casket, and any viewing services you choose to go for.

Cremation with a memorial service You can still hold a memorial service even if you choose to have your loved one cremated prior to the services. The only difference between a funeral and a memorial service is that the body would be present at a funeral. Some families choose to have their loved one cremated and have the ashes present in an urn at the service.

Direct cremation Direct cremation does not involve services and does not include embalming of the body, generally making it the most affordable option. The body is simply cremated (usually in a simple cremation container). The ashes are then returned to the family at the end of the process. While some families choose direct cremation because they do not wish to hold any services, others will choose this option and arrange services on their own without the help of a funeral home.

Cremation after body donation The medical and scientific community relies on body donation to help train medical students and do important research that can’t be done on living individuals. When you donate a body to science, the body is transported to the organization you choose to work with. When a body is no longer being used, it is then cremated and the remains are often returned to the family. Donating a body to science is usually free, but many organizations require applications before someone passes away, so it’s always a good idea to plan in advance if you’d like to go this route.

How to find a cremation provider

The easiest way to find a cremation provider is to start searching online or providers near you. You’ll want to keep in mind that funeral homes are not the only provider of cremation services. There are many companies that deal only in cremation, so if you’re interested in working with a cremation company vs. a funeral home, do some research online to find providers near you. There are also a few national providers that might have a location near you, so it’s a good idea to look that up as well.

Things to look for in a cremation provider

Funeral homes and cremation providers provide a service during a sensitive time and should be there to assist the family through the process. It’s important for a cremation provider to provide excellent customer service, transparency around pricing, fair pricing, and a clean and organized process. You can usually find stand out cremation providers by simply looking them up online and reading through reviews. If there’s a common thread of negative experiences, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Here are some questions to keep in mind when contacting and interacting with cremation providers:

  • What does their facility look like? Are they customer-service oriented and compassionate?
  • Are their prices reasonable compared to similar providers?
  • Do they have a good reputation?
  • How does their staff interact with you?
  • Are there reviews listed for them online?
  • Do they have a website?
  • Are they willing to answer questions?

If you leave a meeting or consultation with any type of cremation provider and don’t feel confident about the overall interaction, research other providers. You want to ensure that you’re choosing a company that will be able to provide the service you’re looking for in this sensitive time, and things that might not matter as much to you in other scenarios (like customer service) can really make a very stressful situation much simpler.

Finding the right company to provide your cremation services might feel like an overwhelming or daunting task, but it can be made easier by doing a bit of research beforehand. Browse through our database of funeral homes and cemeteries, identify what your basic requirements are, and start reaching out to companies with any questions you might have.

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Last updated June 9, 2021
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