Although cremation dates back to ancient times, it has only recently become a more common choice throughout the United States and Canada. If you are thinking about cremation, you may want to know about the many options that are available to you. Whether you are currently in need, planning in advance for yourself of a family member, or just searching for information, we hope the following will help you understand the various choices associated with cremation.
Cremation is the process of reducing the body of the deceased to fragments of bone. These fragments are called cremated remains rather than ashes as the term ashes is misleading. Our staff will be pleased to explain the cremation process in detail with you if you prefer. Boone Family Funeral Home is a member of the North Carolina Cremation Association and has a certified crematory operator on staff to answer your questions.
The body must be enclosed in some type of container when delivered to the crematory, typically a casket or a cremation container. The choice of the cremation container will most likely depend on your choice of funeral or memorial services and also the type of final disposition and memorialization you select. Regardless of your choice, your decisions should reflect your family's preferences and religious beliefs. If the deceased is Jewish, Christian Orthodox, Muslim, or Roman Catholic, you may want to consult with the clergy. (Scattering is not accepted by the Catholic Church. The presence of the body, not the cremated remains is strongly advocated for the Funeral Mass). Our Cremation Authorization Form goes into much detail to explain the cremation process and our policies and procedures.
Our choice of cremation facility is one that is not taken lightly. We do not use an out of state crematory. The facilities and cremation equipment we utilize is state of the art modern equipment approved by the E.P.A. and the North Carolina Board of Mortuary Science. A comfortable family viewing area is provided for those whose religion requires it. Having passed several unannounced inspections of the facility, we are proud to offer this service.
We believe that those who compare facilities, our staff, our procedures, our prices and our reputation for excellence will conclude that we offer unsurpassed quality, value and peace of mind.
NC Board of Funeral Service
Fact Sheet Concerning Cremation in North Carolina
- The North Carolina Board of Funeral Service (the "Board") is responsible for licensing and inspecting crematories in North Carolina.
- There are currently 70 crematories in North Carolina.
- Last year (2004) 16,000 cremations were conducted in North Carolina.
- North Carolina also has 732 funeral homes. Most of the crematories in North Carolina are associated with a funeral home.
- All crematories operating for the cremation of human bodies in North Carolina must be licensed and inspected annually by the Board. There are no exceptions to this licensing requirement for crematories that only do business with funeral homes and not directly with consumers.
- North Carolina has three full-time inspectors for funeral homes and crematories. The Board’s inspectors inspect not only the facility itself, but also the records that the Board requires the crematories to maintain.
- In North Carolina crematories must complete and maintain Board prescribed documents which track the decedent through the cremation process.
- If the consumer picks up the cremated remains, the consumer must sign BFS Form 56D to acknowledge receipt of the cremated remains. If the cremated remains are mailed to the consumer, the crematory must send the cremated remains by certified mail with return receipt. When the crematory receives the return receipt, it must attach the return receipt to BFS Form 56.
- Crematories must file monthly reports with the Board. The reports include a list of each person who was cremated within the past month. The Board charges substantial penalties for submitting the report late.
- North Carolina law limits access to crematories while a cremation is taking place. Nonetheless, family members may be present during a cremation if they wish. Thus, consumers have the option of being 100% certain the ashes they receive are the ashes of their loved ones.
All cremations are performed individually. The cremation process begins with the placement of the cremation container into the cremation chamber where it is subject to intense heat and flame reaching temperatures of 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the nature of the cremation process, any valuable material will not be recoverable. In the event of such valuable items in which I/we wish to retain, it is my/our responsibility to remove them or have them removed prior to the cremation process. Body prostheses, dental bridgework, or dental fillings within the remains will either be destroyed or will not be recoverable. Accordingly, the Authorizing Agent(s) represent and warrant to the Crematory that such materials have been removed from the remains or if not, that they may be removed from the remains and disposed of by the Crematory or may be destroyed by the cremation process.
Following a cooling period, the cremated remains are then swept or raked from the cremation chamber. Cremated remains, depending on the bone structure of the decedent, will weigh approximately 4 to 8 pounds, and are usually white in color, but can be other colors due to temperature variations and other factors. Even with the exercise of reasonable care and the use of the Crematory's best efforts, it is not possible to recover all particles of the cremated remains of the Decedent; some particles may inadvertently become commingled with particles of other cremated remains remaining in the cremation chamber and/or other devices utilized to process (pulverize) the cremated remains. I/We hereby authorize the Crematory to dispose of any such residual particles in any lawful manner it deems appropriate.
Cremated remains consist primarily of bone fragments, which are processed or pulverized to permit their placement in an urn or other suitable container. Unless a suitable container is purchased for the cremated remains of the Decedent, the crematory will place such remains in a container which is designed for short-term use and may not be recommended for any type of shipment. In the event the capacity of the urn or other container is insufficient to accommodate all of the cremated remains of the Decedent, an additional temporary (short-term) container will be used and returned to the person(s) designated in Paragraph J.
Implanted pacemakers or other mechanical devices in the Decedent may create a hazardous condition when placed in a cremation chamber. The Crematory will not, therefore, cremate any human remains which contain any type of implanted mechanical device. In the event the remains of the Decedent do contain such a device, the Authorizing Agent(s) hereby authorize and instruct the funeral home, its agents and employees to contact the appropriate persons and secure the removal of any and all mechanical devices from the remains prior to the cremation process. TO THE BEST OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE AUTHORIZING AGENT(S), THE HUMAN REMAINS DO (__)
DO NOT (__) CONTAIN A PACEMAKER OR ANY OTHER MATERIAL OR IMPLANT THAT MAY BE POTENTIALLY HAZARADOUS TO THE PERSON PERFORMING THE CREMATION. THE AUTHORIZING AGENT(S) CERTIFY THAT TO THE BEST OF HIS/THEIR KNOWLEDGE THE REMAINS OF THE DECEDENT DO (__)DO NOT (___) CONTAIN ANY TYPE OF IMPLANTED MECHANICAL DEVICE.
The Crematory reserves the right to accept or reject a cremation container constructed of noncombustible materials. Remains received in a noncombustible cremation container may be removed prior to cremation and placed in a combustible container; and the Crematory reserves the right to make disposition of such noncombustible container at its sole discretion. The Crematory is authorized to remove and discard handles or any other items attached to the cremation container which may cause damage to the cremation chamber.
If no final disposition is given, the cremated remains will be held by the Crematory Licensee/Funeral Home for 30 days before they are disposed of, unless the cremated remains are received from the Crematory Licensee/Funeral Home prior to that time, in person, by the Authorizing Agent or his designee.
Decomposition of the body in the earth (after burial) is the slow oxidation of the body tissues.
Cremation, on the other hand, provides rapid oxidation.
No casket is legally required for cremation, just a simple container, which is strong enough to hold the body. This could be a box of rough boards, pressboard, or heavy cardboard.
Some crematories accept metal caskets; most require the container to be combustible.
If the body is cremated ...
1. The remains can be stored by the family — and perhaps kept on display — in an urn or other container.
2. You may take the remains in the simple cardboard box supplied by the crematory and distribute ("scatter") them over the land or water.
3. The remains can be placed in a niche within a columbarium.
4. The remains can be buried in the ground in a regular plot or in a smaller cremation plot.
5. The remains can be entombed in a crypt within a mausoleum
Why people choose cremation
In the United States, in 1972, only five percent chose cremation. That number had quintupled by 1999, with over 25% choosing cremation.
The Cremation Association of North America predicts that by 2010, that figure will rise to 36%.
In Canada, the rate is already over 42%; in Great Britain, 71%; and over 98% in Japan.
Those who choose cremation (for themselves or others) often hold the belief that it is better to honor the memory of the
person, not the dead body.
Here are some other reasons you might choose cremation:
- Cremation is traditional in your family, religious group, or geographical area
- You prefer the body to be returned quickly and cleanly to the elements
Many people believe that a cremated body becomes one with nature more quickly.
- You have environmental concerns
Perhaps you are worried about the use of valuable land for cemetery space, or believe it is wrong to fill the ground with materials that won't erode ... metal coffins and concrete vaults.
- You want to keep the costs down
Selecting cremation does not mean, however, that you will have an inexpensive funeral.
You might still choose an expensive casket and/or a viewing, and/or decide to have the cremated remains buried in the ground or placed in a columbarium. These choices can bring your costs up to those of a traditional funeral.
Decisions You Must Make If You Choose Cremation
- Who will do the cremation (a funeral home or a firm that specializes in direct cremation)
- Whether to use an urn or container
- What to do with the remains
If you are distributing the remains....
Some jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the scattering of remains; others require a permit. Ask your funeral director.
Also ask if there are any firms in your area that specialize in unique ways of distributing the remains, such as a plane to spread them over a mountain, or a ship to scatter them at sea.
Think of places that were especially loved by the deceased, close to home or far away. You can walk in the woods, by a favorite lake, or on the old family farm.
Be sure to ask permission if you want to use private property.
What about using the remains to create new life, by planting a tree? Some survivors choose to mix the remains with the soil in flowerbeds and rose gardens at home. Every time the roses bloom, you will be reminded of your loved one.
If you decide to do this, however, consider what will happen if, some day, you move away.