How to Watch a Cremation

by Lane Cummings
Cemetery plots aren't the only option for handling the remains of a loved one.

Cemetery plots aren't the only option for handling the remains of a loved one.

The great majority of people in the U.S. are buried after death, and usually, their remains are buried in cemeteries. But burial isn't the only way to dispose of the final remains of loved ones while still honoring their memory -- there's also cremation. During cremation, the body is placed in a casket or other container, and the container is placed in a chamber heated to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit or more. After a prescribed time in this chamber, the remaining bone fragments are processed again and become the cremated remains. Cremation may seem like a mysterious process, but cultures all over the world have engaged in this ritual for centuries. If you'd like to watch a cremation, you should prepare for it in various ways.

Contact the crematorium or funeral home that will be conducting the cremation. Explain that you'd like to watch. They may ask you to fill out a Cremation Authorization Form or comparable document.

Educate yourself as much as possible about the process so that nothing comes as a surprise to you. The first part of the process, in which the body is placed in a container and the container goes into a heated chamber, will take two to two and a half hours.

Bring a bag or purse; the cremation director will remove any jewelry or watches from the deceased before the process begins. Put these items in a safe place.

If you wish, ask the cremation director for a few minutes alone with the deceased before the process begins, so you can say a final goodbye.

Remind yourself that your loved one is not experiencing any pain during this process. Allow yourself to feel all your feelings during this process, crying if you feel the desire to.

Bring a watch, so you can monitor the progress of the process as you're watching it.

Tip

  • Before the process begins, decide on a place to display the remains after the cremation is complete. This will make the process seem more orderly, and designating a final resting place for the departed will allow you to feel better.

Items you will need

  • Bag or purse

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

Photo Credits

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