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5 Myths About Cremation

Cremation, the reduction of a body by fire to its component elements, is one of the most common methods of laying a body to rest nowadays. However, some myths have arisen about the process. Hereís a sample of them:

1) The cremated remains are ashes. This is not exactly true. The remains after cremation are actually bone fragments from the body that have been dried out by the great heat (over 2000 degrees Celsius) of the crematory and later pulverized into fine sand by a device called an electric cremation remains processor. Nothing else is left of the body because the temperature at which the crematory operates is sufficient to vaporize flesh and all bodily fluids.

2) Many bodies are burned at once to save time. This is categorically false. A crematory is designed to only accept one body at a time. This is both to reduce the chances of remains mixing after successive cremations, and also as a sign of respect for the deceased and their bereaved family. An exception might be made in the case of the body of a mother and her baby, or for twin small children, but these are exceptions and must be specifically requested from the funeral home.

3) Cremation is more expensive than normal burial. Quite untrue. While the funeral charges are largely the same for both methods, it is much more expensive to obtain a plot at a graveyard for burying a body than it is to cremate said body and find a space for it at a columbarium. In addition, space in a columbarium is generally easier to find than the land needed to bury a coffin.

4) Coffins are recycled during cremation. Untrue. The coffin is almost always sent into the crematoria with the body, with exceptions being made only by the express request of the deceasedís family. Some families who find the cost of a coffin (whose sole purpose is to be reduced to ash) excessive may instead opt to use a pall shroud or a cardboard coffin, so appearances and the dignity of the deceased can be preserved.

5) It is easy to mix up one personís remains with anotherís. False. Even before the body is sent to the funeral home for cremation, it is labeled with an ID tag so its identity is known at all times. This tag is removed just before cremation and returned to the container holding the cremation remains, so that the identity of the ashes is known. The ID tags are checked so often during the process of cremation that it is virtually impossible to mix one personís remains with anotherís.

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