- What is cremation?
A: Cremation is the technical heating process that reduces human remains to bone fragments. The reduction takes place through heat and evaporation.
- Is it advisable to arrange for cremation in advance?
A: Pre-arranging or pre-planning is always advisable when possible. Making arrangements ahead of time allows people to make their own decisions about cremation, ground burial or entombment. People are better able to evaluate the options available during a pre-planning stage than at the time of death when emotional stress is typically very high. Kentucky law requires that either a pre-authorization form has been signed by the person to which cremation is to be performed along with one signature by the next-of-kin at the time of death. Otherwise, it is required that all next-of-kin sign an authorization form for the cremation when a pre-approval has not been given.
- How is a cremation service different from a traditional service?
A: A cremation service does not have to differ from the traditional service at all unless that is the family's desire. The family can deviate as much or as little as they wish. A cremation service can include a visitation at a funeral home or church where the deceased is in a casket with cremation and memorialization to follow. Or, the family can choose direct cremation in which the deceased is taken from the place of death to the funeral home for paperwork to be completed then directly to the crematory.
- Is a casket required?
A: A casket for cremation itself is not required; however a cremation container is necessary. Kentucky cremation law requires that a body at least be enclosed in an acceptable rigid container. The container must be strong enough to assure the protection of the health and safety of the operator. If a family chooses to have visitation at the funeral home, it will be necessary to have a casket in which to place the body. Many funeral homes now have caskets available for rental due to the growing interest in cremation. Prior to taking the body to the crematory, the body is transferred into another container. Many funeral homes also offer special caskets designed specifically for cremation. These special caskets are attractive, yet they usually do not have the additional amenities found on caskets designed for ground burial or to be placed in a mausoleum.
- How is cremation accomplished?
A: There are basically four steps to complete the cremation process. The first step is to pre-heat the cremation chamber. Once the cremation chamber is heated, the encased body is placed into the chamber. After the cremation occurs there is a period of time which is allowed for the unit to cool down. It takes approximately 4-1/2 hours to complete the cremation process including pre-heating, cremation and cool-down. An additional 45 minutes is needed for the remains to be packaged. What do the remains look like? Many people believe that remains look like ash from a fireplace, however this belief is untrue. The remains do not have the chemical properties nor the physical appearance of ashes, they are in fact bone fragment. During the cremation process the water from the body, which makes up about 75% of body mass, is evaporated. Fragments of bone are all that remain. Typically the amount of remains can fit into a container similar in size to a three pound coffee can.
- Can a person wear jewelry during cremation?
A: A person can wear jewelry during cremation; however, the family is advised in pre-approved forms that the jewelry will not be recognizable after the cremation process is complete. Many people feel that jewelry should remain with the person it belongs to even after death. Some families request that jewelry be removed prior to cremation then placed on top of the remains in the urn thereafter.
- Will I still need to consult with a funeral director?
A: Regardless of how traditional the cremation service is, The Lexington Cemetery requires that any person who wishes to be cremated in The Lexington Crematory must be brought to the cemetery by a licensed funeral director. The funeral director is a trained professional who provides a very definite service for the family. The funeral director picks up the body at the place of death, provides proof of proper identification, completes all legal documentations prior to cremation and also assists the family in honoring the loved family member or friend.
- Is embalming necessary?
A: Embalming is not necessary for cremation. However, if the family chooses a visitation with viewing, then more than likely embalming will be necessary to improve the appearance of the deceased individual.
- Are more people choosing cremation today?
A: Kentucky as a whole does not have many more people choosing to be cremated compared to twenty years ago. In fact, only about 5% of all bodies are cremated today compared to 4% percent in the early 70s. The percentage of people in Central Kentucky who choose cremation is somewhat higher, with 10% of all bodies being cremated. A person who lives in the western United States, New England, Florida, Alaska, Hawaii or Michigan is more likely to choose cremation than people in Kentucky. In fact, an estimated 61% of people in Alaska choose cremation. The United States cremation rate is estimated at 21%.
- How do I tell my family that I want to be cremated?
A: One of the best ways to tell family members is to simply state that you are pre-planning, and you have decided that you would like to be cremated. Family members may or may not object. If family members do object, you will have to be prepared to either change your mind about being cremated or attempt to educate them. Typically people object because they lack information about cremation. If this is the case it will be helpful to visit the Cemetery with family members to get an education on the subject. Family members may still object to your being cremated, but will probably be more likely to discuss the subject
- Are there any medical conditions that will hinder a person from being cremated?
A: There are several medical conditions that need to be addressed prior to cremation. Pacemakers and medical infusion pumps must be removed because they are highly explosive. Also, a person who has been given radiation therapy for bone cancer in the past two months may not be able to be cremated because of the radioactivity still in the body. This same person can be cremated if radiation therapy has not occurred in two months. If there is a slight chance that radioactivity is still present in a person's body but the body is still cremated, the cemetery director will still mark the cremated remains a potential hazard.
- Isn't cremation an end in itself?
A: Under Kentucky Law, cremation within itself is final disposition. Both in terms of cremation and scattering, the process is irrevocable. It is recommended that the family find a place to memorialize the remains because it gives not only the current family and friends, but future generations a place to which they may visit and commemorate that individual.
- What memorialization choices are available?
A: There are several choices for memorialization of cremated remains. The family can select from a variety of urns for permanent containment. The urn may then be placed in a columbium within a mausoleum, be buried in a regular lot or in an urn garden, or scattered in a scattering garden. Each of these choices allows for a memorial plaque with the name and dates of birth and death of the cremated person.
- Does my religion allow me to be cremated?
A: Some religious faiths object to cremation, while others virtually require it. If a person is concerned that cremation may or may not fit into their religious beliefs, it is best to contact a member of the clergy to make a determination.
- Where can remains be scattered?
A: The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not have stipulations regarding where remains can be scattered. Cemeteries are required by law to have a designated location, usually a scattering garden, for the purpose of scattering remains. It is advised that if the family wants to scatter the remains in a public place that they first get approval from the local governmental official who regulates that county or state. In addition, because some individuals are offended by the cremation process, it also is recommended that when scattering in public places that it is done in a secluded area. Because scattering the remains is irrevocable, if the deceased pre-arranged for a scattering location, or the family chooses to scatter in a public place, it may be of benefit to the family to only scatter a portion of the remains in the public location and place the other portion in a location at a cemetery or church where a memorial can be placed. The family can then go back to the memorial and visit, but also abide by the wishes of the deceased.
- How does the cost of cremation compare with burial or entombment?
A: The cost can be comparable or can be considerably less expensive depending upon how traditional the family wishes to go with the services before and after the cremation. The cost is according to the wishes and traditions of the family.