What happens during the cremation process? From the Funeral Home receiving the deceased for cremation, to giving the family the cremated remains

Cremation Explained

Are you thinking about cremation as a disposition option but curious about what the whole process entails? It can be difficult making a decision about something that you may not clearly understand, or have questions about.  As more families consider cremation as a death-care alternative, we have put together this guide to explain everything you need to know about the cremation process.

The Funeral Home and/or crematory receiving the deceased

When the funeral home or crematory receive the deceased into their care they will require the family to complete a Personal Details Form.  This provides the funeral director with all the vital statistics he or she requires to begin the process of applying for the death certificate, and enables the funeral home to provide shelter for the deceased with all the correct ID information.

How the deceased’s identify is verified throughout the cremation process

Cremation & ID verificationAll funeral homes and crematories adhere to strict guidelines and rules.  This especially pertains to ensuring the verification of ID throughout the process.

When a body is received into a funeral home or crematory, it is an imperative step that the body is identified by a family member, and ID tagged.  A form of metal tag is generated, and this remains with the body throughout the process.  After the cremation, the metal ID tag is put with the cremated remains.

Most funeral facilities use some kind of project management system to keep track of their cases and what stage in the process they are at.  In some facilities, this may be as simple as a whiteboard and a case file system.  More modern facilities may use bespoke software systems to track and coordinate cases.

Preparing the body for cremation

The funeral home will remove any items that the family do not wish to be cremated with the deceased, such as jewelry.  The deceased can be prepared in whatever clothes the family decide are befitting, similar to the preparation for a funeral.

If the family wish to hold a viewing prior to the cremation, the deceased will be prepared for the family to visit and say their last goodbyes.  As a basic cremation container is used for the purposes of cremation, if a viewing is held, some funeral homes offer rental caskets or a viewing bed.

If the deceased had a pace-maker or other type of medical device, this would need to be removed to prevent it exploding during the cremation process.

What is a ‘cremation container’?

A casket is not required for cremation, although some funeral homes will offer a wooden cremation casket.  More often a standard reinforced cardboard box with a plywood base is used to hold the body. This is called a ‘cremation container’ and burns easily during the cremation process.

Cremation Container

Preparation of permits, authorization and paperwork – the legal aspects of cremation

As I mentioned, there is strict legislation that governs the operation of human cremation, and this includes the submission of legal documents for processing.  A Cremation Authorization Form must be signed by the immediate legal next-of-kin.  A cremation cannot proceed without this form.  If there is more than one next-of-kin (for example: 2 or more siblings), then all siblings must sign the authorization form.

The funeral director will submit to the county office for the death certificate, using the data provided by the family from the Personal Details Form.  If required, he or she will also request the Permit to cremate the deceased.  Some counties require a permit before a cremation, and charge for it, whereas in some counties this is not required.

The charge for the cremation permit varies significantly by county.  Most charge between $10.00 to $60.00 for a permit, but Wisconsin has some of the highest cremation permit fees in the country, with Milwaukee county charging $357 for the coroner’s cremation release fee.

Cremation Laws As cremation is such a final disposition, there is also a legal mandatory wait period after the death occurs before a cremation can go ahead.  This varies by state, but ranges from 24-72 hours.

This means that even if the family have signed all the legal paperwork, and a permit is issued, the cremation cannot be conducted until the mandatory period has expired.  Generally, it will take 2-3 days for all the formal details to be completed anyway prior to the cremation being scheduled.  During this time, the deceased is stored in a refrigerated storage unit, similar to how morgue’s store bodies as embalming is not required for cremation.

How does the cremation chamber or cremation retort operate?

A cremation chamber is otherwise referred to as a cremation retort.  It is an industrial type furnace that can hold one body and incinerate at high temperature.  There are many different types of retorts, and today there are modern and very efficient cremation machines that can be operated by computer and automated.  Most are fueled by gas or propane.

Cremation RetortThe chamber has a door at one end and the cremation container is loaded into the retort via the door.  This is then sealed and the cremation process begins.  This can be manually or automatically.

The chamber is constructed of fire resistant bricks and special masonry that can withstand very high temperatures and is generally housed in a stainless-steel casing.  The temperature within the retort reaches between 1800? F – 2000? F.  The process takes around 2 hours to completely reduce the body to bones and ash.  Some older cremation machines may take up to 3-1/2 hours to cremate.  When a cremation retort has reached full heat, subsequent cremation can take less time.

Once the incineration process is complete, a tray containing the bone fragments and ashes is extracted for the next part of the process.  A cool down period of approximately 30 – 60 minutes is required before the bones and ashes can be processed.

How are cremation ashes processedHow are the cremation ashes processed?

The bone fragments and cremation ash is first ‘filtered’ to check for any metal debris.  This is items such as surgical pins, screws, titanium joints/limbs and metal dental fillings.  Depending on the sophistication of the crematory, this will be done by hand, with a magnet, or with an automated filtering system.  Many crematories are now recycling the metal debris they extract from cremation cases.

The remaining bone fragments are then put into a processing unit that is basically like a grinder.  This unit pulverizes the bone fragments to a fine powder, known as the cremated remains or ashes, that are placed in the cremation urn.  The ID tag will have stayed with the body throughout the cremation process, and this is then placed with the urn in readiness for returning the ashes to the family.

Who can conduct a cremation?

Most funeral homes and crematories employ crematory operatives to run their cremation machines and process their cremation cases.  Sometimes the funeral director may personally handle cases, but a trained crematory operative is versant in the specialized knowledge of safely operating a crematory and handling the deceased for cremation.

How long does it take from the funeral home receiving the deceased to the family receiving the cremated remains back?

The time-frame can vary depending on several criteria.  Firstly, the cremation cannot proceed until all the legal requirements have been met.  Secondly, depending on the crematory, there may be a schedule for cremation.  It is fair to say that it will generally take at least 7 days but quite possibly up to 10 days from the deceased being delivered into the care of the funeral home, until the cremated remains are ready.

However, there are cases where an expedited cremation may be required, which can be facilitated if all the permits and authorizations are in order, but may incur an additional charge.  Likewise, I have known of cases that have taken 21-28 days (or longer) to process a cremation.  This is typically where there is some discrepancy over the issuing of a permit and family consent in the authorization of cremation.

Questions about cremation

Other Frequently Asked Questions about cremation

How long does it take for a body to be cremated?

It takes anywhere between 1-1/2 to 3/1/2 hours to cremate an adult body.  It can depend on the time of day the cremation is conducted (i.e. the retort needs to reach full heat to cremate faster) and the type of cremation machine.

Do you have clothes on when you are cremated?

Yes, the deceased is clothed when placed in the cremation container, and the clothes burn with the body.

Can other personal items be cremated with the deceased?

It is generally acceptable to place a small personal item in the cremation container with the deceased prior to cremation, so long as it is a combustible item, such as flowers or soft toys.

What happens to teeth during a cremation?

Any teeth that do not burn during the process are ground down with the bone fragments during the processing of the ashes.  If the deceased had any gold teeth, the family can decide if they wish to have these removed prior to cremation.

Can an obese or overweight body be cremated?

Yes, many crematories offer barometric cremations.  Larger cremation retorts are required to hold and cremate a body over 600 pounds.  Due to the increase in obesity, some crematories have replaced their standard retort doors with wider doors to be better able to fit a larger body through.

An obese body is likely to burn faster as it contains more fat, but it can be more dangerous to manage the retort and observe the incineration process.  Handling of a body over 350 pounds requires additional equipment and a reinforced cremation container.  For these reasons many crematories will charge a barometric cremation fee.  This will be anywhere between an additional $100 – $400.

How much do cremated remains weigh?

A standard adult cremation will produce an average of 3 to 9 pounds (1.4 to 4.1 kilograms) of cremated remains. The volume of cremation ashes usually depends on the bone structure and density of the person, and not so much their actual weight.

What happens to unclaimed cremated remains?

Not all families choose to collect cremated remains.  Some families do not know what to do with the cremated remains.  They may not want to inter the remains, and do not want to keep them at home.  Some have opted for cremation as a final disposition, and just do not want the remains.

Unclaimed Cremated RemainsSo, unclaimed remains are becoming a growing concern for funeral homes, especially as the direct cremation rate grows.

Some cremation providers are offering incremental scattering services as a simple add-on to a cremation package, so that they can scatter remains in a scattering garden, with the families’ consent.  This alleviates the funeral home of the issue of storing remains indefinitely.

Some cremation providers are now adding clauses to a cremation contract that stipulates if the cremated remains are not collected within 90 days, they have the right to dispose of the remains.  Historically, with a lower cremation rate, a funeral home would store any cremation urns not collected by the family.  There was concern that a family member could turn up years down the line, wanting to retrieve the remains.  But with the rise in cremation, this now has the potential to become a storage nightmare!

Cremated remains that remain unclaimed from indigent funerals are generally held for a period and then a mass interment or scattering is conducted by the county authorities.

Cultural differences in the cremation process

Our cultural attitudes to cremation differ.  In countries across Europe and in Japan, the cremation rate is over 80%.  It is an accepted practice that cremation is a better solution for disposition.  In some countries, this has been driven by a less faith-driven approach to death-care, and by available space for body burial.

Cremation, in some cultures and religions, has been sacred for thousands of years.  There is documented evidence of cremation practice among early Phoenician and Persian culture.  But over time this was replaced with mummifying and burial.

In Hinduism, it is a tradition to cremate the deceased.  Their concept of death being a transition to the next existence, gives them a different perspective on the notion of the body.  Other Indian religions such as Sikhism and Jainism also mandate cremation.

Some crematories that cater to faith’s, like Hinduism, who have specific cremation rituals, will facilitate the rites of cremation that are practiced.  For example, Hindus are required to begin the cremation, and see the deceased enter the cremation chamber.  So, a crematory may have a special viewing area with a control button, and a family member can observe the cremation container entering and start the machine.  Where possible, they will help the family observe the rituals that are a sacred part of the funeral rites.

What does cremation cost?

The cost for a cremation varies.  This depends on the type of cremation service selected, and also the cremation service provider you use.  The most affordable cremation service is a direct cremation.  This is a cremation without any ceremony provided by the funeral service provider.  Direct cremation is growing in popularity as it is an efficient and cost-effective disposition alternative.  Families who choose direct cremation can still conduct a memorial service when they have the cremated remains returned to them.  But this does not have to be done immediately, so can allow for a family to plan their own memorial or ash-scattering service at a time that suits them.

Average cremation costs 2018

 

3 Tips for Choosing a Cremation Service Provider

Choosing a cremation service provider can seem overwhelming if you have not had any prior experience handling cremation arrangements.  Trying to get pricing is not always simple.  Many funeral homes will not even provide their cremation pricing online, and it can even be difficult to extract a clear price when you phone them.

We have put together these 3 tips to help you best choose a cremation service provider to serve you.

#1  Price & value for money

Saving on cremation costsAlthough many funeral homes do not like the fact, most families today shop for cremation with cost as an important factor.  We are so used to price comparison as a means to shop today.  And why should that not apply to procure a service such as a cremation?  Cheapest is not always best, but value for money or ‘best value’ is a way to ensure we get good value for our money.

A direct cremation service package is a fixed package.  It should be pretty much the same from every funeral provider, but many will add additional items that are included in the ‘small print’.

So tip 1 is to ensure you are comparing like-for-like cremation services when choosing a cremation service provider.  You should ask what the price quoted includes, and what it does not include.  What can appear at a cheaper price online, can often be a ‘bait and switch’ tactic.  So ensure you clarify exactly what is included in the price before you contract any services.  A licensed funeral home must have a set General Price List (GPL) and according to funeral legislation MUST disclose prices to you when you make an inquiry.  Every GPL has a direct cremation service listed on it.

#2  Location & availability

Arrange a cremation onlineIf you require a meeting to make arrangements or wish to have a ceremony, then the location of your cremation service provider can be very important.

This will determine your selection process.  However, if you are out of the area where the death occurred and are making arrangements, or wish to conduct a direct cremation service, then location is not as relevant.  You may wish to select a provider who has a service area that covers the location of the deceased without additional transport fees.  But pretty much a direct cremation can all be handled with online or phone arrangements.

Although I personally like the idea of the functionality to make arrangements online through a web portal, this is not for everyone.  And, I think it is vitally important that you have already established the availability and responsiveness of the cremation company.  Leading on to tip #3.

#3  Trust

You must establish that you are working with a trustworthy cremation company.  How they deal with your inquiry can go a long way to reassuring you what type of company they are, and what their customer service is like.  Especially if you are using a funeral home that you have no experience with. If the person answering your call is not clear about answering your questions or providing a cremation price, this should probably ring an alarm bell!

Apart from speaking with a funeral director or funeral arranger, you can check out other sources to establish trust.  Reviews are the main source we use today to establish trust, but online reviews today can be very subjective.  Especially if there is not a substantial amount of reviews to qualify the level of service.  Also, reviewing something like a funeral service can be a difficult (and not popular) option for reviewing.

Cremation Memorial ServiceSpeaking on the phone, and having some specific questions to ask, can help you decide if the company appears professional and reassure you.

Checking how up-to-date the company’s website is, and what information is disclosed online, can also be another way to validate their reputation.

There are more funeral homes now operating a separate direct cremation brand online.  If you want a best-value direct cremation service, then you may need to be prepared to make arrangements online.  This is how some funeral homes are able to offer a value direct cremation package but keeping their overhead costs down for this service.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about choosing a cremation provider.  DFS Memorials has selected a network of funeral and cremation companies to work with that all offer a ‘best value’ cremation service to their communities.

How much does a direct cremation cost?

Cremation Memorial ServiceThe price for a direct cremation ranges between $399 and $3,000.  Yes, I know that seems a staggering disparity of price for the same service, but a direct cremation can significantly range in price depending upon whom you employ to deliver a direct cremation.  Where the cremation rate is higher (certainly on the West Coast and Pacific), the competition for the cremation market has driven down the price for direct cremation, and some companies can even operate as Direct Disposers, reducing their overhead to such a minimum that they can reduce their price offering to their customers.  With no expensive funeral home, staff, vehicles and embalming equipment to maintain – operational costs are much lower.

In parts of Nevada, you can purchase a direct cremation for as little as $399 complete.  In most states and metro areas of the U.S. a direct cremation will cost between $700 and $1,000, so still, a very reasonable cost to arrange a complete disposition.  In some areas such as the Southeast and New England, a direct cremation tends to be nearer to the $1,500 price mark.

Visit this article on Cremation Costs in 2019 that has a direct cremation price comparison of a direct cremation in the top 20 U.S. cities.

Are there any hidden extras for a direct cremation package?

If you are purchasing a “complete direct cremation package” then there should generally only be cash disbursements that may be an extra cost.  Cash disbursements that the funeral home will ask you to pay separately for will include such things as the death certificate and cremation permits.  These vary in price by state and county.  A death certificate can be anything between $6 and $30, and a cremation permit can be charged at anything from $10 to $300, so it is important to establish this when you speak to the funeral home about direct cremation.

Average cremation costs 2018Disclosure of direct cremation prices

The funeral industry has long resisted openly disclosing prices.  Some claim it is because “no two funerals are the same”, but it is also generally accepted that this is because the funeral business can be BIG business with large profits. It has been reported by the industry that they can up-sell to 60% of families that request a ‘simple cremation’.  This means that when you approach a funeral home and say that you desire a ‘simple cremation’ they will often aim to encourage you to select incremental products or services to maximize their revenue.

Direct cremation should be listed on the General Price List (GPL)

The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule means that a funeral home MUST disclose prices.  They must have a GPL and provide this to you on request.  A direct cremation is usually listed towards the end of the GPL, almost as the ‘poor cousin’ of funeral services.

Some progressive funeral homes and cremation providers are recognizing the demand, if need, to deliver to customers what they want.  They will openly display cremation prices and offer a simple and transparent direct cremation package.

If you come across a funeral home that is openly disclosing their prices, this will generally mean they understand the demand for affordability and transparency.  If a funeral home does not disclose prices on their website or advertising, and may not openly share a cremation price over the phone, this should probably ring alarm bells and signify that they have to justify their service charges.

Comparing like-for-like in direct cremation servicesArrange a cremation online

It is important to stipulate that what is considered a ‘complete’ direct cremation charge can vary.

You MUST ensure that you compare like-for-like direct cremation packages and prices.    As I mentioned above the price for a direct cremation can vary significantly, so you must check EXACTLY what is included in any direct cremation price.

Some funeral homes quote a direct cremation price which seems fair but they have excluded the crematory fee, especially if they do not have their own crematory and consider the crematory fee as a separate cash disbursement.  It has also been known for funeral homes to exclude the fee for the ‘alternative container’ required for the cremation, and this can be added as an extra for between $50 and $300.  It is quite typical for death certificates and cremation permits to be an additional cash disbursement cost, although funeral homes sometimes include one death certificate in a direct cremation package cost.

Do be aware that economies of scale do not seem to work the same in the funeral industry as they do with most corporate models.  The corporate-owned funeral establishments generally offer the more expensive direct cremations.  Therefore, it is very wise to compare prices for a direct cremation between several cremation service providers before signing a contract.

Understanding Direct Cremation – Part 3 : Comparing direct cremation costs and reviewing cremation providers

Understanding Direct Cremation: What is a direct cremation?

We are all becoming more familiar with cremation these days as the cremation rate increases in the U.S. and more people opt for cremation as a disposition alternative to a burial.  But people are not yet familiar with the term ‘direct cremation’.

What is a Direct Cremation?

A direct cremation sometimes referred to as an immediate cremation, is when a cremation is performed with minimal services from a funeral home and no service is conducted.  It is what is known in the funeral trade as a very basic cremation disposition.

The deceased is collected directly from the place of death and transported to the funeral home and/or crematory, the necessary documentation is completed, the mandatory waiting period passes and the deceased is cremated.  The cremated remains are returned to the family within 3-7 days.

Many funeral homes package a direct cremation offering and glamorize it with such names as A Simple Tribute, A Family Farewell, A Simple Goodbye, The Legacy Farewell, & Simply Farewell.  These names all symbolize a minimal service, minimal fuss disposition package – something many of us are opting for today!

Saving money on the cost of a casket

direct-cremation-costFor the purposes of the cremation, a basic cremation container is used to house the deceased’s body.  This is all that is legally required and a suitable “rigid, combustible” container is most often a sturdy cardboard container.  This means that no casket is required and eliminates the expense of purchasing a casket.  This alone saves around $1,000 – $4,000 in basic costs for the disposition.

If you did wish to have a brief family viewing before the cremation process, a funeral home can usually facilitate this using a rental casket or even a bed laid out in a viewing room.

The most affordable funeral option

A direct cremation can be considered one of the most inexpensive and affordable cremation options.  As only the minimal services of a funeral director are required and substitute funeral merchandise can be used, costs can be kept lower.  The cremated remains are generally returned to the family in a temporary cremation container, which can be a cardboard or plastic urn.  Of course, the family can opt to upgrade and select a wooden or ceramic urn if desired for an additional cost.   Some funeral homes serving families with direct cremations even offer to carry out an ash scattering or sea scattering these days for a small nominal fee.

What documentation must be completed legally before a cremation can be performed?

In order for any cremation to be performed a ‘Cremation Authorization Form‘ must be completed and signed by the legal next of kin.  A cremation permit must be obtained from the local county, and in some states, the coroner must sign the cremation permit.  This is largely to ensure there is no suspect reason why a body should not be cremated destroying all physical evidence.

There is a mandatory waiting period in all states before a cremation can be performed.  In most states this is 24-hours, but there are a number of states where a 48-hour mandatory waiting period must be observed.

Part 2 : How much does a direct cremation cost?

State Assistance for Funerals: What help is available from state budgets for funeral costs for those who cannot afford a funeral?

The reality for many families in the United States today is that a funeral can mean a financial crisis.  With 76% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, 25% living below the poverty line, and 35% in debt recovery, these really are hard times for many average hard-working Americans!  The story is a familiar one, working two jobs, juggling mortgage, utility and car payments, seeking out deals wherever money can be saved and hoping that nothing comes along unexpectedly to disrupt this fine balance!

cremation-costsWho is responsible for paying the funeral bill?

If the deceased died without a funeral plan, money in his/her estate, or a life insurance policy, then the immediate next of kin (and generally the person making the funeral arrangements) becomes responsible for paying the funeral home bill.  In many cases, several family members may agree to share the costs.

If the funeral home has collected the deceased and arranged a funeral planning conference with the family, a ‘funeral contract’ will be drafted that outlines exactly what the costs are.  Once signed this is a legally binding contract for services, and if you fail to honor this contract and pay for services as agreed, the funeral home can take you to court.

What responsibility does the state have to help families with funeral costs?

The state has responsibility for conducting the dispositions of those individuals who die within the care of the state.  Primarily this means those who have been residents in state-owned institutions, such as those individuals who have been incarcerated in prisons, sectioned into mental institutions, in care in residential nursing homes, homeless individuals, and sometimes those who are a victim of a crime.  These are referred to as “indigents”.  The state only has a responsibility to perform the most basic of disposition service.  Traditionally this was a very basic burial in a ‘pauper’ section of a local municipal cemetery.  What could also be referred to as a “pauper burial”.   Today, more counties are opting to use direct cremation as a cheaper and simpler alternative to burial.  A direct cremation can be performed in most states (at a cost to the county) for around $300 – $500.

Unfortunately, more counties are finding their own budgets stretched as more families struggle financially.  Where a county would maybe have to deal with 10 – 20 cases a year, numbers in 2018 began to inflate significantly.  Several local news outlets have reported indigent cases rising by as much as 50%, as this recent story from Salt Lake County in Utah exposes.

indigent-burialWhat is an indigent burial?

Where a state has an ‘indigent burial assistance’ program, there may be some ascribed funding to support those on welfare with a basic disposition.  The level of support varies tremendously by state and county, and in many areas has been axed as municipal budgets have been tightened.  25% of Americans may be below the poverty line, but in most cases, only 50% of those under the poverty line are considered indigent.1

What financial help is there for low-income families with the cost of a funeral?

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is used to assess how an individual/family may qualify for many low-income assistance programs, and the same applies to fund funeral costs.  Many families often misinterpret the phrase ‘indigent death’, believing it to mean an entitlement for low-income stipend and assuming that the city will automatically take over the costs.   If you are a low-income family or individual and wish to find out IF there is any financial support available to you to assist with funeral costs, you should consult your local county Human Services Department to ascertain what (if any) assistance there may be.  Check out these state funeral planning guides for state relevant information (if available).

indigent-cemeteryYou must be prepared for the fact that you WILL have to conform to rigid assessments for qualification, and if the state provides funding they will only offer basic services over which you will have very little control!  The state is likely to offer a direct cremation or a basic funeral.  Do bear in mind that in many areas now you can arrange a simple, basic and dignified cremation for between $500 – $995.  This enables you to remain in control of the disposition process and provides the opportunity to conduct a family-led funeral by having the deceased immediately cremated and then conducting your own memorial or ash scattering services.  The DFS Memorials network of low-cost cremation providers can help you find your nearest and most affordable cremation provider.

If the deceased qualified – you may also be able to claim the $255 lump-sum death benefit payment that Social Security pays out. (The funeral director will assist you with submitting this claim)  Another possibility that has more recently become available as an alternative for those families who cannot afford a funeral is whole body donation.  This is where is the deceased’s body is donated to an institution for research, and the costs of cremation are covered by the institution or body donation organization.  In some areas, funeral homes have affiliated with body donation organizations and can directly offer this to families. Some funeral homes refuse to on the grounds that it is not part of the level of funeral ‘service’ they wish to offer.  You can, however, deal directly with a body donation organization to make a donation.  You can read more about ‘Body Donation’ on US Funerals Online.

unclaimed-deadHow does a family claim financial assistance from the county for a funeral?

Budgets are generally managed at a county or city level, and the Human Services (or sometimes Social Services) department handles these budgets and claims for assistance.   The application process can be onerous and stringent and any assets, life insurance, and savings will be taken into account.  In some areas, a county judge has the ultimate authority to decide whether to accept or decline applications for a burial assistance program.  If funding is awarded for a low-income case, this will usually seal the cost that can be spent on a funeral.  For example in Massachusetts a program offers burial support of costs up to $1,100 for a funeral that cannot exceed a total cost of $1,500, and in New York a low-income family (if qualifying) can claim up to $900 towards the cost of a funeral, but it must not exceed a total cost of $1,700.

If you want to find out if funding is available in your county, check with your Human Services or Social Services department.

What if I don’t qualify for financial support and I still cannot afford a funeral?

Your best option is to arrange the least expensive disposition available to you.  This is a direct cremation.  You can generally arrange this for between $500 and $1,000 in most metro areas, and for under $1,500 in most other areas.  This can still be a simple and yet dignified send-off.  Once the direct cremation is conducted and you have the cremation ashes back, you can arrange a family gathering and private memorial ceremony.   Contact your nearest DFS Memorials provider to find a low-cost cremation.

There are some other options you can consider to help you raise funds for a funeral.  Reading  ‘What are your options on how to pay for a funeral or cremation?’ and ‘Crowdfunding a Funeral’ may give you some further ideas.

Sources:

1 Abandoned Bodies on the Rise in Tom Green County

6 Things You Should Know About Direct Cremation

Cremation now accounts for over 54 percent of all funerals in the United States, yet there are still many misconceptions about cremation services. Several years ago when DFS Memorials started working with local cremation service providers, the term ‘direct cremation’ was not even a common term.  More often people asked for a ‘simple cremation’ or a ‘basic cremation’.

Now the term direct cremation is more commonly used by funeral homes and families searching for simple and affordable cremation.  But, there are still questions that families ask, that demonstrate some common misunderstandings about direct cremation.

So, let’s look at some of these common myths.

Cremation Memorial Service#1  You can still have a funeral service or memorial after a direct cremation

Many people think that if a cremation is chosen, then you cannot have a funeral service.  This is not true.  In fact, choosing to have a direct cremation just offers more flexibility in when and how to conduct a memorial or funeral service.

#2  Every cremation is conducted individually

This is one of the most FAQs and most common misconceptions about cremation.  Each body has to be cremated individually.  There are very strict rules about the cremation of human remains.  One of the key laws being that a body must be individually cremated, and the cremation chamber fully cleared before the next cremation.

#3  It is possible to witness, or even start, the cremation process

Yes.  Many crematories are arranged so that it is possible for family to witness the start of the cremation process.  Some faiths require that a member of the family can commence the cremation process.  So, this can be arranged, although you may need to make an advance request to ensure the crematory can facilitate this.

#4  In many states you can arrange a direct cremation without visiting a funeral home

You can arrange a direct cremation without the need to attend a funeral home.  All arrangements can be made by phone or online, or an arranger can often come to your home to complete arrangements.  In some states you can make arrangements directly with a crematory, without the need to employ a funeral director.

#5  Embalming is NOT required for a direct cremation

There is no legal requirement for embalming.  Unless there is a public health directive.  It is a common myth that all bodies are embalmed for a funeral or cremation.  But this is not the case.  And avoiding embalming can save you between $600 – $800.

#6  There are many personalization options available with cremation

cremation laws.  You can choose the traditional options of burying a cremation urn, placing the urn in a columbarium niche, or keeping the urn at home.  But you can choose from a range of personalized options that include using some of the ashes to make cremation jewelry, fireworks, tattoos and a whole plethora of other creative memorials.

According to some surveys and industry statistics, of the 54% of cremations conducted, around 80% are now direct cremations.  Direct cremation is inexpensive and offers more flexibility in making funeral arrangements.  A low-cost direct cremation can be arranged in most cities for around $800, although many full-service funeral homes will still charge in the region of $2,700 for a direct cremation service.

It is important to shop around and compare prices when considering cremation services.  Visit this article for tips on saving on cremation costs.

How do direct cremation prices vary in an area?

The price for a direct cremation service can vary considerably in a geographical area from different funeral service providers.  Why is this? When presumably if it is the service package from a funeral home’s General Price List, it is a standard itemized service from all funeral homes.

A direct cremation service usually includes:

  • Local transfer of remains to the funeral home or crematory
  • Basic services of funeral director & staff for completion of all legal requirements, paperwork & obtaining permits
  • Shelter of remains (additional storage fees may be added if shelter of remains exceeds a defined number of days)
  • Temporary cremation urn

The following are included in the majority of direct cremation packages, however, there are funeral homes who charge these as additional fees.

  • Basic cremation container
  • Crematory fee

cremation costsThe Funeral Consumers Alliance have argued that there should be no difference in pricing as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that direct cremation service packages be identical from all funeral and cremation providers.

Yet funeral homes will argue that the price they charge for a direct cremation reflects the standard of service and quality their establishment offers.

I understand a difference in pricing for a direct cremation when services are delivered without staff time to conduct in-person arrangements at the funeral home.  For example, there are a growing number of cremation service providers offering ‘online only’ discounted pricing.

When a family submits the required forms online and makes payment, this can save a funeral home considerable staff time.  The funeral business can then off-set this saving to the family.

However, when comparing direct cremation prices in a given area, one will still see a distinct disparity in the range of prices for the same service.  In many metro areas, the range of price for a direct cremation can vary from $795 to $3,300.

It is important to ensure like-for-like comparison, and check if there are any ‘hidden’ fees that are added to a lower price direct cremation package.

Arranging a low cost funeral or cremation in Atlanta

If paying for funeral costs is a concern for your family, then the DFS Memorials provider in Atlanta can help you save money on your funeral expenses.  The average cost of a funeral is $7,755* (without cemetery expenses), a cost that can seem overwhelming today if the deceased had no funeral plan.

Direct cremation Atlanta GAWe deal with families every day who turn to online tools to try and find out what the average cost of a cremation is in Atlanta.  The problem is that Atlanta cremation services can vary so much, and you can spend unnecessary time contacting funeral homes and gathering funeral prices.

You have to be sure you are comparing like-for-like as many funeral homes package their services differently.

Sometimes a funeral home can offer what they claim is an “affordable cremation service” but they have not included all costs, especially the crematory fee, which can be considered a cash disbursement if they do not own their own crematory.

At DFS Memorials, we want to take all that hassle and confusion away, and just help you quickly connect with a reputable, licensed funeral home in Atlanta that can provide you with a complete low-cost funeral price….with no hidden extras!  And remember, all our providers are family-owned funeral business, we do not work with death care corporations.    As you will see below, the funeral home in Atlanta we work with offers very inexpensive funeral and cremation packages.

Our provider of affordable cremations and funerals in Atlanta offers a basic cremation or burial package:

Direct Cremation $1,095  – – – Traditional Funeral $3,635 (Incl. casket)

Call (404) 445-0239 for immediate assistance, if you wish to preplan a funeral, or if you have any questions.

The $1,095 direct cremation package is available in the cities of Athens, Atlanta Metro, Columbus, Dalton & Gainesville and the counties of Fulton, Clayton, Fayette, Carroll, Paulding, Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Rockdale, De Kalb, Walton, Henry, Newton, Oconee, Barrow, Cherokee, Forsyth, Harris, Talbot,  and Dawson.

Why is direct cremation so popular today? Cremation trends in 2019

The cremation rate has risen exponentially over the last 6 years to reach almost 55 percent in 2018.  It seems that more Americans are opting for a cremation service these days instead of a burial service.  We are in changing times, and most significantly, cremation offers a more affordable and flexible death care alternative to traditional burial.  More people are looking for “simple and affordable” alternatives, and direct cremation is leading the cremation trend.

The term ‘direct cremation’ is an industry term, that represents what many would refer to as a simple or basic cremation.

Cremation services save thousands on the cost of a funeral service

A traditional burial service would cost in the region of $10,000 to $15,000.  A cremation service costs in the region of $3,000.  A direct cremation can be arranged for even less than this.  For many families who are struggling with finances, and living paycheck to paycheck, even raising $3,000 can seem impossible.

A direct cremation service can be purchased in most areas for between $700 and $1,500 at the time of need.  This means that direct cremation offers a much more affordable death care solution for many families where finances are a big concern.

Cremation Service Why is there such a big shift to direct cremation?

Direct cremation is the most economical cremation option available to families.  And, where many families are choosing direct cremation for financial reasons, there is also a demand today simply for affordable and ‘no-fuss’ cremation.  Even individuals who are not governed by financial limitations are opting for direct cremation.  Why?  Because it seems there is a shift away from the need for traditional funeral services.  Direct cremation offers a simple and flexible disposition.  For families with relatives who have transplanted and migrated to different states or cities, a direct cremation offers an easy way to coordinate death care requirements at the place of death, and memorial services as and when convenient.

Affordable Pre-need Cremation Plans

Preplanning a direct cremation can be arranged for around $2,500.  This secures a direct cremation when the need arises, and is still an affordable way to pre-plan and have peace of mind.  Today’s senior population and baby boomer generation understand the benefit of prepaying a cremation plan now to give them a sense of preparation, and save their children from the financial burden of funeral costs.

This demographic of 50+ also seem to be leading a shift away from traditional funerals.  They want something simple and have more creative ideas about memorialization.  Direct cremation fits with their mind-set.

Direct cremation vs. Cremation Memorial services

Most funeral homes still tend to want to sway families to a cremation that includes a viewing or funeral service. Naturally, they feel that their ‘expertise’ in helping families memorialize and process grief, is an intrinsic part of their service offer.  However, industry reports indicate that of all cremations performed, the majority are direct cremations.  It seems the funeral industry prefers to keep this data somewhat quiet!

Understandably, the funeral industry wants to try and keep direct cremation ‘suppressed’ as much as possible.  It means their revenue and profit-margins decline significantly.  However, the industry IS aware of this huge shift.  Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest corporate death care company, has invested in direct cremation with the Neptune Society.  Neptune Society is a direct cremation company.

Other regional death care companies have quietly acquired funeral businesses that have positioned themselves to serve the direct cremation market.

Price-shopping is a reality in the death care market

Purchasing funeral services used to not be about discussing costs.  A funeral purchase is a ‘distressed purchase’ and it seemed disrespectful to inquire about costs.  Today, we are so entrenched in price-shopping and comparing prices.  And now this is impacting on the funeral business.

Now, we have funeral businesses who are Google-advertising competing in the ‘best price’.  Indeed, some areas almost have a price-war over direct cremation prices.

So, whether the funeral industry embraces it or not, direct cremation is becoming the popular disposition option within the death care market today.

Save money using a rental casket for a cremation service

Renting an item or service, that we do not want to pay out the full expense for, is pretty standard these days.  We rent homes, cars, suits, tools and movies to name but a few.  So, why not rent a casket for a funeral instead of the huge cost of purchasing a casket?

Rental caskets are not a new phenomenon, they have been around for years.  Funeral homes offered them to families who could not afford (or did not want the expense) of purchasing an elaborate casket for a funeral.  A rental casket could be used for the purpose of the visitation and funeral, with the deceased later moved into a more basic casket for burial.

With the shift towards cremation, there has been a growing demand for a ceremonial casket that can be used for a ceremony prior to a cremation.  Funeral homes may have used a standard casket as a rental casket, which required de-sanitization after each rental, and the deceased physically being moved in and out of the casket.  Today, a funeral home can purchase a bespoke ceremonial rental casket to offer their families more flexibility in their casket and ceremony choices.

What is a ceremonial rental casket?

Rental casket for cremationA ceremonial rental casket appears from the outside very like a standard casket.  The difference is that the casket is structured so that an inner cremation container is held as an ‘insert’ within the casket.  This can be easily slid out after the visitation or ceremony for the deceased to be cremated.

This means the deceased remains within the simple cremation container always, so there is no unnecessary physical man-handling of the deceased.  It also enables the funeral home to offer a ‘sanitized’ rental casket, as the body is always held within an inner insert.

What costs can be saved in opting to use a rental casket for a cremation?

A funeral casket generally costs around $2,000, but some models can cost as much as $10,000.

A rental casket will cost between $750 to $1,500 to rent for a funeral ceremony.  So, choosing to rent a ceremonial rental casket is likely to save you at least $1,250 or more on your casket expenses.

What are the benefits of choosing a rental casket?

The main benefit is the saving on costs for a casket.  It can also be easier for the family to decide about holding a visitation or ceremony before the cremation, if they do not have to make a decision about purchasing a casket.

This year (2018) the NFDA report that the cremation rate will reach 53.5%.  Families are often choosing cremation because it saves on funeral costs. Funeral homes and families can benefit from the reduced cost of using rental caskets.  The family save on casket costs, and the funeral home can generate some revenue from renting a ceremonial casket, as opposed to losing a casket sale altogether.  Renting a casket is more sustainable.

How do you obtain a cremation rental casket?

Ceremonial rental caskets are sold by casket wholesalers to funeral homes.  You would need to find a funeral home that has rental caskets available.  As more families show interest in renting a casket for a cremation service, then more funeral homes will see the advantage in offering the choice of a rental casket.

Ceremonial casket with insert

Do I need a funeral home if I just want cremation?

This is a question I have been asked more than several times by families.  With the increasing interest in direct cremation, a family may question their need to deal with a funeral home at all.  Now this may all depend on which state you are in, and whether your funeral services provider has their own crematory.

Do I legally have to employ a funeral director?

In most states, you do not.  In fact, there are only 8 states that have laws in place specifically requiring you to employ a funeral director for death-care services.  A list of these and their specific funeral laws can be found here on a guide to DIY Funerals – Home Funeral Care.

Can I transport the deceased direct to a crematory?

In those states that do not require a funeral director to legally transport the deceased, it may be possible for you to transport the deceased in a suitable cremation container or casket directly to the crematory.  Of course, moving a dead body is not for everyone.  There are considerations to make about how easily the body can be moved, and public health and safety aspects of managing a corpse.

What is a ‘direct’ cremation?  And what services do the funeral home offer?

A direct cremation is where only the cremation is facilitated by the funeral services provider.  No visitation, viewing or ceremony is held.  The deceased is transferred from the place of death to the funeral home or crematory.  There he or she is placed in refrigerated shelter for a few days while all the correct authorizations and permits are obtained.  Once all legal requirements are met, the deceased is cremated in a basic cremation container.  The cremation ashes are then returned to the family in a temporary cremation urn.

Cremation planningThe funeral director arranges the transportation of the deceased, assists the family with completing the necessary arrangements, authorizations and submission for the death certificate.

A direct cremation service from a funeral home is a minimal service level package.  As the cost for a direct cremation service is at an ‘entry point’ level, so too are the services that the funeral home offer.

Some funeral service providers offer more than one direct cremation package. From a minimal direct cremation service where most of the arrangements are made online, to concierge services where more support and extra benefits such as copies of the death certificate, obituary notice and upgraded cremation urns are offered.

What are the benefits of employing a funeral director to conduct a direct cremation?

Employing a funeral home, or funeral director, to conduct a direct cremation service does mean that you are using the services of a licensed professional with experience.  Although, in many states it is not a legal requirement, it can still be a preferred option to let someone who knows exactly what they are doing to handle everything.

Cremation LawsThe funeral director will already have processes in place for collating the data required legally to issue a death certificate, and obtain cremation authorizations and permits from the county.

Also, it can take several days to complete these before the cremation can go ahead, so you can be assured that your loved one is sheltered with care. In many states there is a mandatory wait period after death before a cremation can proceed. (24-48 hours)

With direct cremation gaining more popularity as the ‘simple’ cremation option, so more funeral service providers are offering competitive direct cremation packages.  So, you may find that for under $1,000 in many cities, it is much simpler to employ a cremation provider to handle everything!

Do you need a casket for a cremation?

Cremation ContainerThe simple answer is no.  Legally there is no requirement for a casket.  Generally, for a direct cremation a simple cremation container is used.  This is a reinforced cardboard container, often with a plywood bottom.  This burns easily during the cremation process.  Alternatively, simple plywood or pine coffins can be used.  A direct cremation is offered at such an affordable price because only a basic cremation container is used.

More funeral homes are also offering rental caskets for their cremation families.  A ceremonial cremation rental casket is designed to house the basic cremation container inside for the purpose of a viewing or ceremony, then the cremation container with the body, simply slides out and can be moved to the crematory for cremation.  This means that even if a funeral service or viewing is required prior to cremation, you do not need to purchase a casket, and can reduce overall cremation costs.

What can you do with the cremation ashes if you opt for a cremation without a ceremony?

This is another question I am asked about frequently with more families choosing a simple cremation.  Less families are concerned about interring cremation ashes, especially sometimes with the costs involved.  What had been an inexpensive cremation can become costlier with cemetery or columbarium cremation niche fees.

Some families just want to scatter the ashes after some kind of family memorial service.  All of which makes the whole disposition process inexpensive and personal.  There is also no time-frame to have to do something with the ashes.  This can allow family members to take time to grieve and decide on some befitting final resting place at a later date.

There are also many different cremation artifact products now where some of the ashes can be blended into a keepsake memorial.

The growing market for simple and direct cremation is changing how funeral homes operate, and giving more control and options to families.   If you need to find out the cost for a direct cremation in your area, use the state links to find your nearest city and DFS Memorials provider.