Blog » Odd But Relevant Questions About Cremation Services

Odd But Relevant Questions About Cremation Services
January 1, 1970

Fortunately, cremation services are not something that most people shop for on a regular basis and most customers are relatively unfamiliar with the process of arranging a cremation when they are faced with the need to handle an end-of-life event for a friend or family member. It is therefore unsurprising that many questions asked of funeral homes, where most cremation services are arranged, may sound a bit odd or even humorous to those more familiar with the crematory process.

Here are some of the more commonly asked questions about cremation that may seem obvious to a funeral director, but not necessarily to cremation customers:

Can you still have a funeral service with a cremation?

The custom of burying a body has become so entwined with the concept of a traditional burial, that many families are unsure as to whether they can hold a traditional memorial service with a cremation. The simply answer is, “Yes,you can.” Cremation versus burial is a choice in the disposition of the body and is not associated in the least with the memorial service selected. There is no reason why a family cannot hold services to commemorate the life of a deceased loved one either before the body is cremated or after the cremation process is complete. The concept of cremation vs burial need not have any impact on what type of ceremony is held to honor their memory.

What is the difference between a cremation container and an urn?

When people think of cremation, the container than comes to mind is the one that holds the cremains (human remains) commonly known as an “urn”. This is a container that can store the cremains either in a burial plot, Niche (at a cemetery), at home or any other place of the family’s choosing. A cremation container on the other hand is the container that is used to transport the body to the crematorium.

Are people naked when they are cremated?

Clearly, people are concerned with maintaining the dignity of their loved ones during the process of handling their remains after death, and this commonly asked question indicates that despite the fact that whatever the deceased were wearing at the time of cremation would be incinerated along with the body. In some traditions, there is some importance placed on the specific clothing being worn by the deceased as their final outfit. The answer is that, unless specifically requested, the deceased in cremated with whatever outfit they were wearing at the time of death, or in the case where a more traditional viewing, funeral service is held prior to the cremation, whatever the chosen outfit was at those events.

What parts of the body make up the ashes?

The ashes, formally know as “cremains” are made up of bones, as the remainder of the body is incinerated in the intense heat of the cremation process.

Does the body move during the cremation process?

The answer to this one is actually a bit surprising, as one would expect that a dead person does not move at all once dead, and of course, has no physical reaction to heat, pain, or other stimulus after death. However, the fact is that the intense heat may cause shrinkage of body tissues and muscles in the initial phase of the cremation, causing the body to contort into what is known as a “pugilistic stance” that mimics the pose that a boxer assumes with flexed limbs and clenched fists.

Is blood drained out of the body prior to cremation?

Unless the body is embalmed as part of the funeral process, cremations are conducted without draining any bodily fluids, including blood, prior to a cremation.

Does any DNA survive the cremation process?

Typically no, all of the soft tissue is completely incinerated during the cremation process, and any viable DNA held within the teeth or bones is generally rendered irrecoverable. The remains resemble a fine powder which is actually decalcified bone particles. However, there have been cases where DNA has been successfully recovered out of cremated remains, so it is not completely impossible that some DNA could survive a cremation.

What do cremated ashes smell like?

Cremated remains have no odor.

How long does a cremation take?

The typical cremation takes a few hours about 2 - 4 hours on average.

Are bodies cremated inside a casket or cremation container?

In some cases, yes, a body will be placed inside a special container that is placed into the cremation chamber along with the body. This may be a separate vessel than the actual casket used in a funeral service. Alternatively, a cloth ‘shroud’ may be used to reduce costs while providing an eco-friendly alternative to a coffin. Additional low-cost containers include plywood and cardboard options.

Does the belly button also turn to ashes?

It seems that someone has been making things up at the expense of their friends, and the urban legend that belly buttons survive the cremation process is cited on many websites. However, the truth is that no soft tissues remain after the cremation is completed, and hard structures, such as teeth and bones, are processed into fine powder following the cremation.