Funerals provide surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to recognize the death of a loved one and to share thoughts and feelings about that person. Funerals are the first step in the healing process. The ritual of attending a funeral service provides many benefits including:
Providing a social support system for the bereaved
Helping the bereaved understand death is final and part of life
Integrating the bereaved back into the community
Easing the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one
Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain
It is possible to have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. The importance of the ritual is in providing a social gathering to help the bereaved begin the healing process.
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for the transportation of the deceased, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the deceased.
Funeral directors are listeners, advisors, and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
Every family is different, and not everyone wants the same type of funeral. Funeral practices are influenced by religious and cultural traditions, costs, and personal preferences. These factors help determine whether the funeral will be elaborate or simple, public or private, religious or secular, and where it will be held. They also influence whether the body will be present at the funeral, if there will be a viewing or visitation, and, if so, whether the casket will be open or closed and whether the remains will be buried or cremated.
Viewing is a part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the deceased, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of someone disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death is caused by a reportable contagious disease or when a deceased is to be transported from one state to another by a common carrier, or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.
As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family the opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But, this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:
A visitation prior to the service
An open or closed casket
A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship, or other special location
In collecting the cremated body, a tool similar to a garden hoe is used. Using the broad width of the hoe, the fragments are pushed or pulled to the discharge end of the chamber. Then, utilizing a steel bristle brush, the entire chamber is swept clean to its highest, possible degree. However, there is, inadvertent co-mingling (micro mixing) of the cremated body. In no case should anything less than 100% of the recoverable cremated body be returned.
There are several types of cremation units in use today. However, with the average equipment in use, the average cremation takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. The entire cremation process can take up to 6-10 days, unless the family chooses to pay an expedited fee. Variables exist that may lengthen the process, such as the size of the person and the type of container. Technically speaking, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency refers to the cremation chamber as an “incinerator”. Incinerators used for reducing human remains are particularly referred to as ‘pathological incinerators’ The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency classifies incinerators according to their burning rate. Some incinerators available today can do cremation or incinerating in one hour.
A cremated body is processed to facilitate memorialization and inurnment. The larger bones of the body are not reduced that significantly during incineration, so processing is necessary so they can be inurned. Processing also makes it acceptable for scattering, so that certain bones are not identifiable to the person performing the scattering (e.g.: a jaw bone, femur, etc.). A form of processing may include pulverizing the bones, using a machine especially for this purpose.
After the cremated body is collected, they are cleaned of any metal or other particles. They are separated from the cremated body, with the exception of casket ash, which cannot be separated. Note: In instances when the family requests that a particular item (such as a piece of jewelry) be placed with the cremated body, it should be done after the remains have been cremated and inurned, not before. Other pieces of metal, such as prosthesis, even dental gold, will be recycled according to industry acceptable practices and all monies received by the funeral home from the recycling center are donated to a local 501.c.3 charity. Pacemakers or explodable implants must be removed before cremation because they could damage the interior of the chamber. Some pacemakers, if left in place, might also subject the operator to radiation exposure. Pacemakers are also recycled and donated to a Major University to be used in research projects currently studying the feasibility of using former human pacemakers in animals.
The process of cremating a person in a metal container may vary from crematory to crematory. There are some crematories that are not equipped to handle a metal container or casket. When a family selects a metal casket and chooses cremation, it is necessary to advise them of the policy of the crematory. Some provinces have specific laws governing the disposal of metal caskets in cremation. In general, those crematories that are equipped to accept metal caskets will follow these guidelines:
Remove the lid of the casket to allow for the entrance of the flame;
The cremation is performed in the container;
Upon completion, the cremated body is hand picked from the container and then the container is vacuumed to collect the small fragments;
The residue of this container is then removed from the chamber and normally is disposed of at a recycling centre. It is recommended that each funeral director be thoroughly familiar with the policy at the crematory. In all instances when a metal casket is cremated, the disposal of this container must follow ethical and socially accepted practices.
There is no simple “Yes” or “No” answer to the question of allowing family members to observe the cremation process. Several basic principles apply:
It is our belief that the immediate family has the right to know everything that happens and under certain conditions, can observe selected aspects of our work.
Some of the technical aspects of funeral service are as complicated as aspects of surgery and involve procedures for which the ordinary layperson has no basis of technical understanding or psychological preparation. It is possible; therefore, that a layperson might misunderstand or misinterpret what is happening and may knowingly or unknowingly transmit inaccurate information to others.
Crematories (and embalming areas) are not ordinarily designed to accommodate observers, and the hazard of having a non-professional person in the area would add needless complication, including professional liability, to what is already a technical process that involves high temperatures and is, at best, difficult to observe.
The privilege should be limited to the right person at the right time for the right reason. A person from outside funeral service should not be allowed to observe cremation unless that person is judged to be of an age and psychological stability to warrant such permission. Non-professional persons observing cremation must be prepared in advance with information about the cremation process, must be accompanied for safety purposes, and should be debriefed by the funeral director after observing the cremation process.
We can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral or memorial service with a cremation. For more technical information about the cremation process, we encourage you to view information online at the National Funeral Directors Association.
In 2009, the national average cost of an adult, full-service funeral was $6,560. This includes a professional service charge, transfer of deceased, embalming, other preparation, use of viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, service car or van, and metal casket. This average increases to $7,755 if a vault is included. Cemetery and monument charges are additional. (Source: 2010 NFDA General Price List Survey.)
Funeral service is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer-guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, call 708-827-6337 or 800-662-7666).
In Ohio, Contact the Ohio Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. 77 South High Street, 16 Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215