Tag Archives: cremation society

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.

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.

Let Us All Give Thanks

Throughout this week, family and friends will gather together on Thanksgiving to take stock of their blessings and to be thankful for so many things. We at Cremation Society of America would like to take a moment to express our thanks to YOU for the privilege to serve YOU. Without YOU, we would not be able to do what we love: provide respectful and dignified cremation services during a time of stress and sadness.

It may sound a bit cliché but we Americans are blessed by living in the greatest, most generous nation in the world. We should be thankful for all of the sacrifices of those who came before us so that we may be free. In case you were wondering how the Thanksgiving Holiday came to be, here is a brief history:

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2018 occurs on Thursday, November 22. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.

The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.

During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941.)

We at Cremation Society of America would like to wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you cherish these moments surrounded by family and friends in the spirit of joy and Thanksgiving.