End of Life

What is Cremation & How Does the Process Work?

What is the cremation process and how does the process work? In this in-depth article, we'll cover everything you should know and help you determine whether this is the right approach for you.
Nathaniel Felder
3 minutes

When a loved one passes on, you may be left with the tough decision of whether you should pursue cremation or not. While this will be a personal decision left to the wishes of the family and even the individual, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. 

If you’re faced with this decision, you might even be wondering what is cremation in the first place? If you’re looking for some more information about the process before making your decision, you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading as we discuss in more detail what the cremation process is and answer another common question - how does cremation work?

What is the Cremation Process?

What is the cremation process? It’s actually quite simple:

The cremation process refers to the dissolution of human remains into ashes and bone fragments.

The ashes are then returned to the family so they can memorialize their loved one in a way they see fit–either by scattering their ashes in a special location or displaying them in an urn in the home, among other ways. 

Now that you understand what is the cremation process, we can discuss the next question at hand -  how does the cremation process work?

How Does the Cremation Process Work?

If you’re curious about how does cremation work, there are a few different ways to do it, though thermal cremations are still the most widely used across the country.

When done thermally, or flame-based, the intense heat transforms the physical body into fine dust and small bone fragments. Cremation also includes the processing of bone fragments to even smaller pieces that are typically less than one-eighth of an inch. Normally, the ashes will weigh between four and six pounds and have a light gray color. 

Typically, the cremation process only lasts an hour or two, and once the right documentation and identification processes have been completed, the ashes can be returned to the correct party, usually a family member. Usually this will only take a few hours, though it can take up to a day in some cases. 

So now you no longer have to wonder, “how does the cremation process work?”, and can have the peace of mind that the process is being done by experts with care. 

What Comes After Cremation?

Now understanding what is cremation, we can discuss how you can memorialize your loved one once it’s complete. Continue reading below as we describe the typical steps that follow cremation. Of course, there are many things families can do with ashes besides displaying them in an urn like we discuss below, though this does tend to be the most common procedure, so we will now dive in to how this process works. 

Selecting the Right Urn

Your first question may be where to put the ashes from cremation. While there are a variety of options out there to store a loved one’s ashes, one common method is to put them in an urn. Urns come in many different sizes, colors, price points, and styles, so it will be up to the family to choose the one they like best.

Many people will want to order the urn before cremation occurs so they have somewhere to place their family member’s ashes once it’s complete, though this isn’t always feasible. Even still, you should be aware that it may take time to receive the urn depending on which model you purchased, so keep in mind that there may be some time in-between where the remains will need to be kept in a plastic bag or other container provided by the crematorium. 

Transfer Ashes to the Urn

Once it has been received, you’ll need to transfer the ashes into the urn. In some cases, families will divide the remains to be placed in a number of urns for different households, though most of the time the ashes will be transferred to just one.

In any case, this is typically something you’ll have to do for yourself, as it’s rarely done in the crematorium. So while this can be a sensitive task to accomplish, many people will have to go through it at some point in their lives when a loved one passes. Plus, you’ll want to do it carefully so none of the remains fall or spill out.

For more specifics on how to transfer human ashes into an urn safely, check out our guide here where we provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to do so. 

Displaying the Urn

Once you have the ashes in the urn, you’ll want to find the right location to place them. Some families will choose to bury the urn so it’s at a location that can easily be visited by others, while others will want to keep the urn in the home. Either way, the families will decide which option will best help them in their grief and bring them the most comfort.

If you’re wondering how to display an urn in your home, the first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that you need to keep the urn safe and not at risk of falling or breaking. Some of the common locations where people display urns are in the living room on the mantle, in a family chapel, or in a designated corner in the bedroom. In any case, it will be a personal conversation amongst loved ones about where the best location is. 

Is This the Right Way for You to Memorialize a Loved One?

While there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to how you should memorialize a loved one, each family will have to determine that on their own. Plus, many individuals will make their wishes known before their death in order to make these tough decisions easier on the family. 

The truth is that cremation is very common nowadays, and is done by nearly half of all people who pass away. Cremation is seen as an eco-friendly alternative to burials since it requires less land, plus it tends to be more affordable.

Even though cremation and displaying urns is a widely-utilized process, there are other creative ways to memorialize a loved one after they’re gone, which we will touch on more below.  

Other Options 

Aside from the more traditional options, there are many other ways that people can memorialize their loved ones after they’ve passed. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you do it, but finding some way to honor them is a key part to the grieving process and helping you heal the wound that their passing has caused.

Some great ideas to memorialize family members include:

  • Hosting an annual event in their honor
  • Creating a playlist that reminds you of them
  • Planting a tree or garden in remembrance 
  • Making a charitable donation in their honor
  • Visiting some of their bucket list destinations

Consider Building an Online Memorial Page to Preserve Their Memory Forever

One of the best ways to remember a loved one is through a virtual memorial website. At Forevory, we understand how important it is to keep your loved one’s memory alive even after they’re gone. So, building a tribute website and profile page is one of the best ways to do so, while giving everyone else whose lives they touched a chance to memorialize them as well.

You can build your late loved one a profile page on Forevory, giving others the chance to access precious memories that are preserved through the online memorial guest book, online memorial stories, and with online memorial photos and videos.

By having a place to preserve all these sentimental aspects of their life, you can aid yourself in the grieving process and make sure their memory lives on. Plus, it’s also a great way for future generations to access those memories and learn about their ancestors. 

What is the Cremation Process & How Does it Work? Wrapping Things Up

If you’ve ever wondered what is cremation and how does cremation work, hopefully this guide gave you a better understanding of the process. 

This is a delicate subject that sometimes feels morbid to discuss, though dying is a fact of life that we will all have to deal with at some point. Thus, knowing the options available to honor your loved one once they’re gone can help you feel more prepared for when the inevitable happens.

And for a great way to preserve their memory forever, consider making them a profile on Forevory. It’s the perfect place to capture their essence in an immortal way, and makes sure that their story lives on in a way that you can enjoy for the years to come. 

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