Tag Archives: urns

The Holiday Travel Season is Upon Us. Do You Have a Plan?

We are well into the Fall season and the time has come to consider your Holiday travel plans to visit family and friends. Have you also considered your plans in the event that a loved one passes away while out of town?

Direct Cremation”, sometimes called “Simple Cremation” or “Immediate Cremation” is when the cremation is performed soon after death, without a viewing, visitation or funeral service of any kind.

What if you’ve arranged for your Direct Cremation and you’re planning a trip across the United States to visit family for Thanksgiving or another holiday? What happens if you or a loved one passes away unexpectedly in another state that is thousands of miles away from home? How do you ensure that your loved one is returned home in a dignified manner? How much will such arrangements cost?

You’ll have to deal with the rules and regulations of the airlines when it comes to the transportation of your loved one’s remains – and the cost as well. You’ll also have to arrange for the remains to be transported to your pre-planned facility for cremation. And you’ll need to manage these issues during a time of sudden and likely overwhelming grief.

A Travel Protection Plan can save time, stress, and cost for you or your next-of-kin should your death occur while traveling away from your legal residence. Most Travel Protection Plans will include many of the following services:

  • Prepare remains for transport, regardless of where the remains are located worldwide
  • Locate funeral home or direct disposition (cremation) facility
  • Arrange for transportation of remains from place of death to funeral home or direct disposition (cremation) facility
  • Purchase casket/air tray to meet transportation requirements, including international transportation
  • Arrange and pay for transport to city of legal residence
  • Secure and process all documentation required for remains transportation, including death certificate

Most Travel Protection Plans are triggered when the death occurs a certain number of miles away from the person’s legal residence. Be sure to review your Travel Protection Plan carefully for specific terms and conditions.

At a time of shock and grief, you or your loved ones would make just one phone call to activate the Plan. Once activated, the Plan agents immediately commence arrangements to provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind amidst the chaos of returning home from your journey.

Please contact us for more information regarding Travel Protection Plans and how such a plan can factor into your Pre-Planning strategy. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

Hand Delivery of Your Loved One’s Ashes

At Cremation Society of America, we’re often asked by the families we serve, how long will it be for their loved one’s ashes or “cremains” are returned to them after the Direct Cremation process is complete. It takes CSA 7-10 business days to perform the cremation from the time we receive all necessary approvals.  Then in 1-2 days, the urn containing cremated remains is delivered via United States Postal Service Express Priority Mail.  Within 8-12 business days your loved one’s Urn will be returned home to you.

However, some families prefer a more dignified and personal form of delivery: Hand Delivery. We at Cremation Society of America offer a Hand Delivery* service for an additional fee of $100 when you arrange your Direct Cremation with us.

*Please note that our Hand Delivery Service is currently available ONLY in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. More delivery areas are planned.

When you choose to have your loved one’s cremains delivered by hand, an adult will need to be present at the delivery address with photo-identification in order to accept and sign for the ashes.

Visit us at cremationsocietyofamerica.com/pre-planning/ to begin the simple process of pre-planning today.  Cremation Simplified.

 

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.

Scatter Your Loved One’s Ashes at Sea

Direct Cremation continues to be the preferred choice of families in the United States in lieu of more traditional funeral services. Direct Cremation is far more affordable and offers families the flexibility to arrange for services at time and place more convenient for the family. One example of such flexibility is the Scattering of 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. Contact us NOW to order a Direct Cremation and to explore our Scattering of Ashes at Sea services.

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.