While a centuries-old tradition in some cultures, cremation, the process of using intense heat, usually direct flame, to reduce the body to small fragments, is relatively new as a common option in our society. Rarely used in the 1970s, in the past fifty years it has grown to be the choice of half, or more, of Canadian families.
This trend led us to install our own crematorium many years ago and we have recently upgraded our facilities to ensure that we can continue to offer secure and efficient service to our families.
The cremation process is, quite naturally, a matter of curiousity for many people.
The first step in a cremation is preparation of the legally required documentation. The authorization form, the death certificate and the burial permit are completed and signed by the appropriate persons. A funeral director will remove any prosthesis or heart pacemaker device preventing possible damage to crematory equipment. Valuable possessions such as rings, watches or other jewellery can be removed and returned to the family or may be enclosed in the urn following the cremation process.
The body is placed in a container that may range from a simple fibreboard box to a traditional wood casket. The container is then placed in the crematory for a period of several hours after which the cremated remains or ashes, usually five to eight pounds of bone fragments, are scanned for any metal fragments and then placed in a machine which reduces them to a fine powder with a consistent texture. They are then packaged according to the family’s wishes.
All cremations are performed individually.
The crematorium provides a simple container for the ashes but the family has the option of choosing an urn, a decorative container made of wood, porcelain, ceramic or metal. Frequently the ashes are buried in a cemetery plot as is traditional, however a number of other choices are available. Columbariums, for instance, are now relatively common. These are structures, from simple walls to entire buildings, containing ‘niches’ or compartments, into which the urn can be sealed. Some will choose to retain the urn and may even split the ashes between several containers for various family members. A variety of products, ranging from jewelry to mantle clocks, is now available, each with a sealable compartment designed to contain a small portion of ashes. Others wish to scatter the ashes on private property in a place of significance to the deceased or the family. We can advise you on the regulations and etiquette involved in scattering.
Ultimately cremation is simply an alternative method of preparing the body for final disposition. It need not, in any way, remove other funeral service options from consideration. Visitations, services, receptions and other memorialization activities can all still be a part of your plans. Some are surprised to learn that cremation can take place before, after or even in the midst of (between visiting and funeral for instance) other events.
In New Brunswick there is a mandatory 48 hour waiting period after the time of death before cremation can take place however, the process has the benefit of removing some other time limitations that may exist in its absence. As a common example, delaying services to include family who must travel is now a regular occurrence thanks to the lack of urgency when handling cremated remains.