Tag Archives: cremains

How to Help a Child Understand Cremation

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 is 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
  • This process can take 2-4 hours, until such time as only calcium bone fragments remain
  • 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.

Direct Cremation Basics

We at Cremation Society of America are often asked what is a Direct Cremation and why Direct Cremations have become the preferred choice of an ever-increasing number of Americans.

Direct Cremation is not just about cost savings. It’s well-established that Direct Cremation is much more affordable than burial – and the cost gap will only widen as time goes on. However, Direct 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 more information regarding our Direct Cremation services and our industry-leading identification protocols to provide you with peace of mind. CSA can also help you Pre-Plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

How is Next of Kin Defined?

“Next of Kin”: What Does It Really Mean?

When you are faced with the loss of a loved one or if you are pre-planning cremation arrangements and/or a will, you will undoubtedly find the term “Next of Kin” used frequently. It sounds a bit “folksy” or old-fashioned but this is term that is still used throughout society, especially in the legal community.

Per Investopedia, Next of Kin “refers to a person’s closest living blood relative. The next-of-kin relationship is important in determining inheritance rights if a person dies without a will and has no spouse and/or children. The next of kin may also have responsibilities during and after their relative’s life. They might have to make medical decisions if the person becomes incapacitated or take responsibility for their funeral/burial arrangements and financial affairs after their relative dies.”

Who is Considered Next of Kin in Florida?

In State of Florida, Chapter 744 Title XLII (14), Next of Kin is defined as ““those persons who would be heirs at law of the ward or alleged incapacitated person if the person were deceased and includes the lineal descendants of the ward or alleged incapacitated person.”

Cremation Society of America is Here to Help

We at CSA realize that decision making in the aftermath of losing a loved on is stressful and difficult. We’re here to help. Visit our Home Page to download our FREE Cremation Planning Guide that will help you and your family ensure that the best decisions are being made and that nothing is missed. Of course, feel free to Contact Us with any questions.

How Do we Know for Sure that the Cremains in the Urn are Actually Our Loved One?

So long as you use a licensed and reputable crematory or Cremation Service, you can assume that the ashes or cremains placed in your urn are indeed your loved one. However, many of us have asked ourselves the question “Is he or she REALLY in there? How would I really know? Did the crematory make a mistake?”

At Cremation Society of America, you receive our Cremation Integrity Promise that our specially-trained team strictly follows our established protocols for ensuring that your loved one is positively identified throughout the cremation process.

Our industry-leading chain-of-custody procedures include the following:

Step 1: Before your loved one is removed from the place of death, a sealed identification band is placed on your loved one’s ankle. The placement of the band is certified and witnessed. Your loved one is then transported to our location in a solemn and dignified fashion.

Step 2: Upon arrival at our location, the information on the identification band is confirmed a second time to be true and correct. A second identification band is then created with a barcode and placed on the wrist of your loved one. The barcode is then scanned and your loved one’s identification is entered into our system for validation and tracking. This ensures that we know the name of your loved one and your loved one’s precise location anywhere within our facility.

Step 3: Once the designated family members make positive identification of your loved one by viewing or providing a photo ID, your loved one is then moved to the crematory.

Step 4: Upon arriving at the crematory, identification and verification is confirmed once again and witnessed. Your loved one is then placed in the cremation chamber. An indestructible identification disk is placed in the chamber with your loved one. The disk is approximately the size of a quarter and is made of stainless steel. It will not melt despite the intense heat of the chamber. Unique identification numbers are stamped onto the disk for future verification. The disk will remain with the ashes (cremains) and we will keep a record of the unique identification numbers indefinitely. You are welcome to review the identification numbers upon request.

Step 5: Once the cremation process is complete, the cremains – including the disk – are then placed into the container or urn selected by the family. The disk remains in the run with the cremains to provide an ironclad method of ensuring that your loved one’s ashes are indeed inside the urn.

Please Contact CSA for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services and our industry-leading identification protocols to provide you with peace of mind. CSA can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

Death Certificates Explained

What is a Death Certificate?

Here at Cremation Society of America, one of the questions most often asked of us is how to order a Death Certificate and why is it required for Direct Cremation.

A Death Certificate is an official document that serves as certified proof that someone has passed away. This document will be necessary for families or loved ones to close accounts, access insurance benefits and take similar legal steps. Death Certificates are also used by governmental agencies to track demographic trends locally and nationwide.

How many Death Certificates do I need?

A family or loved one will need a certified copy of a Death Certificate to close any financial services account or claim any benefit such as insurance proceeds after a loved one passes away. Some companies will require an original to access benefits such as pensions, insurance proceeds or property transfer. Other companies or entities may only require a photocopy/image of the Death Certificate to serve as proof. A good rule of thumb is to expect an original Death Certificate will be require to settle legal issues and a copy may be sufficient to resolve other matters.

The number of death certificates a family needs will depend on the number of assets, benefits and accounts that have been left to them. We recommend that you contact each of the companies/entities involved to confirm whether the company/entity will accept only an original death certificate or a copy of the death certificate.

Death Certificate

How do I order a Death Certificate?

Once the death has been registered, Death Certificates can be ordered from several entities, including:

  • The funeral home or Cremation provider that you choose
  • The state or county in which the person passed away
  • An online service such as VitalChek, a Lexis Nexis Company

There are two types of Death Certificates: Informational or Certified:

  • Informational copies can be ordered by anyone
  • To get a Certified copy, you must be closely related to the deceased

How long can I expect to wait to receive a Death Certificate?

There can be as many as four parties/entities/agencies involved in processing the first Death Certificate, which means that the time it takes to receive the Certificate may vary. You can expect a state agency to take 3 -6 weeks while a county agency may only take 2-4 weeks.

The following steps are typically required in order to produce a Death Certificate:

  • The family or Next of Kin provides certain information about the deceased to confirm identity
  • The primary care physician or attending physician confirms the cause of death to the funeral home or Cremation provider
  • The funeral home/Cremation provider registers the death in the applicable county or jurisdiction
  • The Death Certificates are printed and sent by the county or jurisdiction

The family and funeral home/Cremation provider typically provide their respective information within a day and don’t delay the process. If any delays are encountered, it’s usually with the physicians or the applicable county/jurisdiction.

We at Cremation Society of America do everything in our power to make the Death Certificate process as efficient as possible so that you and your family can address the matters at hand.

Call us today to request more information about our Direct Cremations or click here to order your Direct Cremation now using our industry-leading online ordering process.

Arranging a Direct Cremation is Easy – and Affordable

Even though Direct Cremation is steadily overtaking funeral homes as the arrangement of choice for most Americans and their loved ones, some cremation providers can be saddled with a tedious or inconvenient process to purchase a cremation.

At Cremation Society of America, we continually seek to make our Direct Cremation Services the easiest and most affordable Direct Cremation ordering process in the industry.

If you’ve been following our Blog, you know that the median cost of a funeral can be $8,000 with many exceeding $10,000. Of course, a Direct Cremation is a far more affordable option for a loved one. At Cremation Society of America, our Direct Cremation packages start at only $795.00 with the option to upgrade to more comprehensive packages that include an Urn Allowance, for example. You can also order features such as Cremation Jewelry and Celebration of Life Kits.

Our industry-leading secure Online Ordering System can be completed in mere minutes and is easy to understand. Here are highlights of the Online Ordering System:

  • Choose either Direct Cremation for a loved one who has passed or Pre-Plan for a Cremation in the future
  • Enter your contact information
  • Choose from one of Three Packages
  • Select Medical Examiner Cremation Approval Fee, if applicable
  • Select Delivery Method
  • Order Death Certificate(s)
  • Choose from a selection of Cremation Jewelry and Celebration of Life Kit options, if desired
  • Enter Billing and Shipping Addresses
  • Enter payment information
  • Complete the Necessary Forms

You simply SUBMIT and you’re all set! The entire process takes just a few minutes and we’ll take care of the rest.

We understand that there is rarely a convenient time to arrange for a Direct Cremation. However, we are confident that you will find our streamlined Online Ordering System easy to use and it will take little time to complete. Don’t forget that all Online Direct Cremation orders come with a 30-Day 100% Money Back Guarantee!

So, you see, there is no better time nor better reason to order your Direct Cremation ONLINE NOW.

Peace of Mind has never been so affordable or so easy to arrange. Give us a call for more information or to ask us questions. That’s why we’re here. We look forward to serving as your trusted Direct Cremation resource.

Don’t Fall Victim to Cremation Scams

As an increasing number of Americans choose Cremation over traditional burials, Cremation Scams and Fraudulent Practices are also on the rise. As with IRS scams and Banking scams, Cremation Scams are aimed at people 65 and older.  Fraudsters and scammers attempt to take advantage of the sadness, grief and confusion many feel in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. This is a time of great vulnerability for families, especially those who did not take advantage of Pre-Planning Services.

The best way to combat Cremation Scams and Fraud is education. Here are some examples of Cremation Scams:

  • Concealing or misrepresenting prices. Dishonest providers may deliberately avoid providing prices to you in writing or they even increase prices/fees once the cremains are delivered.
  • Selling extra or unnecessary services or items. Service providers may try to sell unnecessary additional services, such as embalming or a burial casket, as part of a cremation package. These items can be quite expensive and are considered “pure profit” by unscrupulous funeral providers. Oftentimes, providers will use “high-pressure” sales tactics to coerce elderly customers into buying unnecessary products and services.
  • Forcing consumers to buy proprietary goods. Sometimes called “cramming,” a family member who wants to use a family heirloom for the cremains may be coerced into buying an “approved” urn or casket that is only sold by the provider, at a premium of course.
  • Misrepresenting legal requirements for funeral or cremation services. Unscrupulous providers may insist that embalming is required by law, even in a direct cremation with no viewing or funeral service, despite the fact that embalming is not a statutory requirement in most states.

Now that you know what a Cremation Scam looks like, here are some steps you can take to avoid falling victim to such scams:

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Cremation providers should be willing to answer any questions that you or your family may have. If a provider fails to answer questions, is evasive or tries to hurry your family into a decision that does not feel right, you could be at risk for a scam. Be sure to meet with family members and even a family attorney to organize your questions in advance. Such questions can include:

  • How can I be sure that my loved one’s cremains are actually his or hers?
  • How will the cremains be presented to the family?
  • How long will the Cremation process take and how long will cremains be held prior to pick-up?
  • Do you offer support services for bereaved families, especially young children?

Research the Cremation Provider

As more and more families opt for Cremation in lieu of burial, “fly by night” cremation-only providers have begun to appear. In the same way that you would investigate a general contractor before building a house or hiring an attorney to draft a will for your family, you should investigate the credentials and performance of your Cremation provider. Here are some ways to conduct your investigation:

  • Visit the provider’s website and locate the provider’s physical address
  • Most provider websites include an “About Us” section. In many cases, you can double-check that information with public resources, including the Better Business Bureau and certain state-specific licensing agencies
  • Be wary of offers that may be too good to be true. Contact at least two providers so that you can compare products and services. The more offers you compare, the better
  • Read online reviews on social media and other online resources such as Yelp and Google
  • Where possible, follow-up with references

Arrange for a Witness be present at the Cremation

Request that a family member or representative (such as an attorney) witness the Cremation to ensure that no mishandling or mistakes in identification happen at any point during the Cremation process. The family representative must be able to visually identify the individual being cremated as a safeguard to ensure to that your loved one’s cremains are being returned to the family. Keep in mind that some states do not allow witnesses and some crematories have specific rules and regulations concerning witnesses, including additional fees to allow for a witness.

Get Everything in Writing 

Do not commit to any Cremation services until you have received all documentation in writing and have had a chance to review, including having legal counsel review the documents.

Know Your Rights 

As a consumer, your rights are clear under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, which describes in detail how providers of funeral services should provide burial and cremation services. Knowing your rights can help you to avoid the cremation and funeral scams listed above.

The FTC’s Funeral Rule applies to all types of funeral and cremation service providers except third-party sellers like casket and urn dealers or cemeteries without an on-site funeral home. Your rights when purchasing or contracting services for burial or cremation include:

  • The right to buy only the services and products you want.
  • The right to refuse embalming. Many state laws do not require embalming as the only preservation process. In some cases, refrigeration may suffice. Check with your specific state laws before being forced to pay for embalming.
  • The right to get price information by phone without agreeing to buy.Funeral service providers are required by law to give you the prices you request by phone without requiring you to provide your name or other information. You also have the right to compare prices without being obligated to purchase a provider’s services.
  • The right to a written, itemized price list and written statement that lists your products and services.
  • The right to use a container other than a casket for cremation.A provider might try to coerce you into purchasing a casket for cremation even though no laws require it. The provider must offer alternatives such as wooden boxes or cardboard.
  • Know your rights and Cremation requirements in your state.

Pre-Planning 

Not only can Pre-Planning save your family money, it is always better to make such important decisions ahead of time so that all aspects can be researched and evaluated. Rarely are proper decisions made under duress or during a time of grief and confusion.

Veterans Benefits for Cremation 

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides certain burial benefits for veterans of U.S. military service that covers free interment in a National Cemetery and associated military honors, and those benefits can also be used for cremation services. Ask your cremation provider how they are equipped to accommodate veterans and their families.

What Can You Do if You Fall Victim to a Scam?

What actions can you take if you experience cremation fraud or fall victim to a cremation scam? Your rights under the FTC’s Funeral Rule are protected by several agencies and organizations, and you can report any experiences of fraud or scams to these entities for further investigation. You can report a funeral or cremation scam to the FTC here. State Attorneys General also investigate consumer complaints pertaining to funeral services. You can contact the Attorney General’s Office in your state by searching online.

Business organizations also track complaints about the funeral and cremation industry. The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection Agency pursues reports of scams/fraud, and so does the Consumer Protection Agency.

As you can see above, education is the best way to avoid falling victim to any cremation or funeral scams. At Cremation Society of America, we are committed to providing you and your family with the most competitive and dignified Cremation services available. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

Scattering Ashes at Sea

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.