Cremation Questions Answered

What is Cremation?

The practice of cremation dates back to at least the Bronze Age (400BC – 1000BC) Practiced throughout the world as a method of preparing the body for final disposition, cremation is commonly performed in several Asian and European countries and is becoming more prevalent in North America.

Creation is a process that prepares the body for its ultimate disposition. Ultimate disposition may be earth burial, entombment, placement in a niche or in a garden within a cemetery, scattering or holding in a safe keeping by a family member or their designated representative.

Before the cremation process may take place, certain medical devices and/or implants must be removed from the body. The funeral director will also need to know if the deceased was treated with any radioactive medication.

The body is placed into a combustible cremation container. The container and the body are placed into the cremation chamber and consumed by the intense heat and flame. Cremation is a process by which the body is reduced to its basic elements, bone fragments. The cremation process usually includes mechanically pulverizing the bone fragments, with the final result being a quantity of cremated remains. 

The cremated remains will then be placed in an urn or cremated remains container that is provided. An urn is a specialized container used to hold the cremated remains of a human being. 

Cremation is not a final disposition process. It is another step in the memorialization process. After cremation takes place, families must make a choice for the final disposition of cremated remains. Final disposition options include placing the cremated remains in a decorative urn to be displayed in the home or in a niche or columbarium, burying the cremated remains in the family's preferred cemetery, or scattering the cremated remains. 

Common Questions about Cremation

Does my religion allow cremation?

Most religions today accept the practice of cremation, with the exception of Orthodox Judaism and Islam. In some traditions, such as Hinduism, it is the preferred method of disposition. If you aren't sure whether cremation is acceptable in your own religious tradition, the Wenner funeral home staff would be happy to help you find the answer to this question.

Are traditional services and cremation services different?
No, they don't have to be. If your preference is cremation, you may be surprised to learn that choosing cremation does not mean that you cannot also hold traditional services such as a viewing and a funeral. Whether you choose cremation or burial, the same services are available to you, including formal services that include music, prayers and other rites. A viewing with an open casket may precede the cremation. In fact, it is important to still hold some kind of special service to assist the bereaved in the grieving process.

It is important to remember that the cremation process is not an end in itself. As cremation grows in popularity, so does the memorial service--a special service that takes place after cremation has occurred. The body is not present during a memorial service, but the cremated remains in a decorative urn could be included. A memorial service allows family and friends to come together to remember the deceased. 

Can I have a funeral if I choose cremation?
Absolutely. Choosing cremation does not limit the types of services you may choose. If you choose to have a visitation/viewing or a funeral, the cremation process will take place after these ceremonies have concluded. You can choose to have an open casket at the funeral. Because the crematory is close by, we can even have an open casket visitation one day, do the cremation overnight and have a "closed" casket service the next.  Nearly every wooden casket can be cremated, and we offer several attractive wooden caskets and rental caskets that are designed specifically for cremation. Ask your funeral director to see a selection of cremation caskets from which to choose.

Can I plan for cremation in advance?
Yes. For more information about planning a funeral in advance, please fill out our contact form on this website, call us directly at 320-685-7762 or email us at office@wennerfuneralhome.com. 

Is embalming required?
No. However, most states insist on embalming under certain circumstances such as when the death is caused by a contagious disease or if final disposition isn't made within a certain time frame. Embalming preserves the body, often allowing more time for arrangements. It is required if there will be a visitation one day and funeral the next. There is the concept of "Green Burial" that chooses not to use formaldehyde as a basis for embalming.  Please call and talk to one of our directors about these options. 

Is a casket required?
Most crematories require that the body be encased in a combustible, rigid container. Any wood casket will satisfy this requirement. Some wood caskets are designed specifically for cremation. You can also choose to use alternative containers of cardboard, particle board, etc. Generally speaking, a cremation container must be strong enough to assure the safety of the crematory operator as well as provide proper covering and meet reasonable standards of respect and dignity of the deceased. Ask your funeral director what options are available. 

How can we personalize a cremation?
Even if your preference is cremation, you can choose to hold many different types of services--a visitation, funeral service, witness cremation, graveside service, or a memorial service. Any of these can be personalized in a number of ways. Each ceremony should be as unique as the life being celebrated. Ideas for a special service are always welcome in our funeral home.

Many families add a personal touch to funeral services by incorporating memorabilia that represent a loved one's hobbies or passions. For the avid sports fan, a few of his or her collector's items could be displayed. For the artist, a display of recent works or even the artist's tools can provide a personal touch. Some families take it a step further, such as providing homemade chocolate chip cookies for funeral attendees who knew the deceased as a skilled cook. These unique touches can help family and friends remember the deceased's personality and relive the traditions that meant so much. Photo albums and memorial tribute DVDs are also great ways to remember the past.

Personalized merchandise is also popular. Some caskets include interchangeable corners, and you may choose corners that represent the life of your loved one. Caskets can also be personalized with an embroidered panel. Cremation urns and keepsakes can be engraved. The funeral home also offers a wide variety of other merchandise such as keepsake jewelry, candles and stationery products that can reflect the life of your loved one.

Today, it is becoming more popular to hold unique services outside of the funeral home. This is especially true for families choosing cremation. After the cremation takes place, memorial services can take place nearly anywhere--in your home, in a local park, or even at a sporting event. We can help you organize these types of services. A funeral director is an event planner of sorts and will certainly assist you in planning these services. Whatever your preferences or ideas may be, we can work to help you create a memorable and meaningful tribute. 

Can we take cremated remains on a plane?
Yes, you can carry cremated remains with you on an airline. Some airlines do not accept cremated remains as checked luggage. You must contact the airline directly to verify this. If you plan to transport an urn as a carry-on item, the urn must be able to pass through the x-ray scanner. You'll also need to carry proper documentation with you (certified death certificate, certificate of cremation, etc.). If the urn cannot be scanned, it will not be permitted on the flight. Under no circumstances will a TSA employee open an urn to inspect its contents, even if the family insists. Feel free to search the TSA website for futher information: https://www.tsa.gov/travel .