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  • A Trying Time

    A loved one has passed away and you are the parent, guardian or family friend of a child who is grieving the loss of the same loved one, be it a sibling, parent, grandparent, or other person close to the child. You are faced with the daunting task of not only coming to terms with your grief but also with helping the bereaved child come to terms with such a life-changing event.

    In cases where your loved one is to be cremated (which is happening more and more in today’s society), you should take steps to explain what cremation to the child in your care. Here are some helpful steps when seeking to comfort a child and to help with the healing process:

    Understand Cremation

    Believe it or not, many adults have never been taught what happens during cremation. The process of Cremation includes:

    • Cremation takes place at a building called a crematory or crematorium.  Sometimes crematories are adjacent to funeral homes, but often they are stand-alone operations not affiliated with a specific funeral home. There are more than 1,000 crematories in the United States and Canada today
    • Within the Crematorium is a special stainless-steel vault called a cremation chamber, or retort.  The body is placed in a sturdy cardboard container and the container is moved into the cremation chamber. The body may also be cremated in a casket. After the container or casket is placed in the chamber, the chamber door is tightly sealed and the licensed operator turns on the heat
    • A gas jet creates an intense, white-hot heat in the back of the cremation chamber.  Because of the intensity of the heat, the body ignites and burns until only bone fragments remain. This process can take an estimated 2-4 hours
    • Upon completion of the cremation, the remains are collected in a metal tray.  At this point, the remains are small pieces of bone. To further reduce them, the remains are placed in a processor and refined down to the consistency of coarse sand
    • The white or grayish remains (called ashes, cremated remains or cremains) are then sealed in a transparent plastic bag along with an identification tag.  The bag weighs about 5 lbs. and is similar in size to a 5-lb. bag of sugar. Often the family requests that the cremated remains be placed in an urn, which can then be buried, placed in a columbarium (which is a special above-ground structure at a cemetery), taken home or transported for scattering.
     Encourage Questions from the Child

    Children are naturally curious about everything, including death but death is an uncomfortable subject for most adults because we all have suffered loss at some point in our lives. Such a discussion can unearth painful memories – and this is natural. However, you can be a resource for the child at a critical moment by being someone the child can turn to with death and cremation questions. Remember: Most young children assume that “grown-ups” have all of life’s answers. Encourage the child to ask you anything about the death and the funeral. Give the child honest answers – but in words and concepts that the child will understand.

    Use Simple Explanations

    Armed with your understanding of the cremation process, you need to plan which information to share with the child and how to share it. Take care to use words and concepts that the child can grasp and understand.  This depends not only on the age of the child but on the child’s personality, developmental level and vocabulary. If your words and your tone convey command of the information and familiarity with the cremation process, the child will likely feel the same way.

    Try to provide as much information as possible. Children have an amazing ability to cope with life-changing events. Don’t withhold facts in an attempt to spare a child what you consider to be disturbing details. Often, a child’s imagination can conjure up explanations much scarier than reality if the child is denied the facts. Be the compassionate adult who furthers the child’s understanding.

    Her are some child-friendly answers to questions often asked about cremation:

    • Cremation has been used for thousands of years.  The ancient Greeks and Romans built funeral pyres – stacks of wood with the loved one place atop. The wood was set afire and the body burned, too.  Funeral pyres are still used in some countries today as a tribute to the deceased
    • Cremation doesn’t hurt.  The person is dead, which means the body doesn’t work anymore.  The body’s heart doesn’t beat, the body doesn’t breathe, the brain has stopped working and it doesn’t feel anything anymore.
    • There is no smell and no smoke when a body is cremated.  The process is very, very hot—many times hotter than your oven at home or a campfire.  The heat burns away all the parts of the body except for some pieces of bone.
    • After cremation, what’s left of the body looks like kitty litter or beach sand, although it’s white in color because it’s bone.  It’s put in a clear plastic bag so you can see it if you want to.
    • When a body is buried in the ground in a grave, it breaks down after months and years and just a skeleton is left. Cremation is the same process except cremation makes this happen much faster.
    • The people involved in the cremation process handle the body with dignity and respect.

    Some final thoughts: Where possible, include the child in the cremation and services planning. Let the child feel part of the process of honoring your loved one. Much like many of us want to feel useful and needed during times of stress, so do children. Also, simply being available to the child in the days, weeks and months after the cremation will make for a path to healing. Whether sharing funny stories or expressing how much you both miss your loved one, simply being “someone to talk to” goes a long way to providing a healthy grieving process.

    Please contact CSA for more information regarding our Cremations services as well as family grieving resources. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

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  • Scattering ashes at sea has become more and more popular among families of the deceased.  This type of ceremony is considered by many to be much more natural and soothing for your loved ones versus traditional, terrestrial burials.

    Shortly following the cremation and receipt of the ashes, you are ready to provide your loved one with the ceremony and serenity that he or she deserves – and most likely requested with his or her final wishes.

    U.S. federal law allows for the scattering of ashes at sea but certain conditions must be met, including: the use of decomposable flowers and wreaths; certain notification requirements; ensuring that ashes are scattered at least three (3) nautical miles from shore; and others.

    To scatter your loved one’s cremated remains (“cremains”) by boat, family and friends board the vessel and travel to the desired location on the ocean. This typically involves chartering a boat with a licensed captain and the trip may last for several hours.

    Upon arrival at the desired location, the captain will position the vessel boat into the wind and with enough forward speed to prevent the cremains from being blown back into the vessel. The ceremony and tribute can begin. The ceremony can range from clergy reciting prayers to Family members reciting poetry to a few poignant comments and everything in between.

    Family members have the option to scatter the cremains if they so choose. The cremains are placed in the water and allowed to descend into the ocean. Cremation Society of America can help you to choose a reputable charter service to ensure that the cremains make it into the ocean properly.

    Shortly thereafter, the Family and friends are usually handed flowers or even a bouquet that they can toss in along with the cremains to create an area of the ceremony on the water. The captain can then circle the area while the Family and friends take photos and say their final goodbyes.

    With the Cremation Society of America Package One, our advisors can help you arrange to scatter your loved one’s ashes at sea. CSA has relationships with reputable charter services that have vast experience to provide a dignified and touching at-sea tribute to your loved one.

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  • Cremation is not just about cost savings.

    It’s well-established that cremation is much more affordable than burial – and the cost gap will only widen as time goes on. However, Cremation enjoys other benefits when compared to burial:

    • Acceptance by Many Faiths and Religions: With few exceptions, most faiths and religions have embraced Cremation as an acceptable service for loved ones. The dignity and reverence for loved ones as part of a sanctioned religious ceremony is often the primary concern of families after the passing of a loved one. Cremation is an option for such ceremonies.
    • Flexibility: By choosing Cremation, you avoid the stresses of scheduling your service around the logistics inherent to burials such as the gravesite itself, motorcade/escort, etc. Cremation enables you to literally schedule your service at the time and place of your choosing, including a “Destination Service” in the locale that your loved one truly enjoyed. This includes burial at sea.
    • Distributed Presence of Loved One: Whereas burial in a cemetery requires family in friends to visit the site to pay respects to a loved one, a family can distribute ashes to multiple family members in a solemn way so that the loved one can be in constant remembrance. Decorative Keepsake Urns often become moving tributes to the loved one. In addition, many families are spread across the United States in pursuit of careers and some family members may be unable to travel to the ceremony. Cremation enables multiple ceremonies to be performed so that no family member is prevented from paying respects.

    Why Choose Cremation Society of America?

    Cremation Society of America (“CSA”) is your trusted provider of Cremation services. Since we at CSA focus solely on Cremation – and leave funerals, burials and ceremonies to others – we can offer cost-effective Cremation services without sacrificing the dignity or solemnity of your love one.

    We offer the most efficient online process in the industry as well as 24 x 7 Cremation Consultants who are ready to answer any and all questions during such a troubling time for your family.

    Please contact CSA for your Cremation pre-planning needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.