Frequently Asked Questions about Cremation December 26, 2013

What is Cremation?
Cremation is a process for preparing the body for its ultimate disposition. By using a high temperature open flame, the body is reduced to bone particles and fragments. Organic tissue and bone are oxidized to elemental substances in a fraction of the time required by the bacterial decomposition of earth burial or entombment. Cremation is simply an alternative to other forms of final disposition such as burial.

Has Cremation become more popular?
The choice of cremation for funeral disposition is chosen only about one of four times. However, the cremation rate has almost doubled in the last decade. The cremation rate in Minnesota was 38% in 2005. Ramsey County and Dakota County had rates of 42% and 44% respectively.

Why has the rate of Cremation risen?
A number of factors have contributed to the increase in cremation:

Society is becoming less traditional, less religious, and more mobile. As a result, cremation is seen as the simplest form of memorialization.

Cremation has a certain romantic attraction. Television and movies, for the sake of dramatic simplification, frequently portray cremation as the memorialization of choice, even though it only composes one-fifth of all dispositions.

Immediate cremation is a less expensive alternative when compared to the traditional funeral. However this comparison isn’t accurate. The cost of cremation should be compared to the cemetery expenses of earth burial or entombment. In this apple to apples comparison the cost difference is negligible.

Aggressive marketing and misinformation by the cremation societies have contributed to the increase in cremations. Unfortunately, much of the advertising and marketing from these companies has created confusion and apprehension regarding the grief process and basic human emotions.

Cremation is viewed to be more environmentally safe and a cleaner process of disposition. However, studies indicate that the natural gas consumption and the smoke stack emissions from crematories affect the environment more negatively than the natural decomposition of earth burial.

Can I still have a visitation and funeral if I select cremation?
Grief therapists and psychiatrists stress the importance of visitations and funerals. The American funeral industry evolved from the needs of people. Every society in the world memorializes its dead. Every society works through a process of grief and mourning regardless of culture, history, or religion. The tradition of visitations and funerals exist to allow us a forum to deal with death. Cremation should be looked at as an alternative to earth burial or entombment, not as a replacement to visitations and funeral services. Incorporating cremation into funeral service is as varied in its options as other forms of final disposition. One option is the traditional funeral service with the interment ceremony at the crematory. Another option is immediate cremation where there is no embalming, viewing, or service. Many options exist between these two extremes.

Do I have to buy a casket? An urn?
Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service provides an alternative to purchasing a casket if cremation is chosen as the final means of disposition. Our “rental casket” is a beautiful mahogany stained tulipwood. This casket is used just for the visitation or service. An alternative container is then provided for the actual cremation. If the actual purchase of a casket is the preference, we have a number of all wood caskets available that are designed and built specifically for cremation.
Urns are not required by state or local law, nor do cemeteries require urns. The cremated remains are returned to our mortuary in a plastic box that is suitable for burial or placement in a columbarium.
Should one prefer an urn, a number of urns are available at all of our funeral homes. Urns are made of many varied materials, such as wood, bronze, copper, stainless steel or ceramic. The selection of an urn is based on personal choice, esthetics, and price.

Is cremation something new?
The process of cremation is as old as man. The first documented cremations took place in Greece during the Bronze Age (4000 B.C. – 1000 B.C.). As predominate religious and philosophical belief systems changed throughout history so did the popularity of cremation.

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