Cremation is the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat. This usually takes two to three hours and occurs in a special type of furnace, known as a cremation chamber or retort. The remaining fragments are processed into a finer substance and placed into a temporary container or an urn, before being returned to the family.
The modern practice of cremation dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Yet, throughout history, many cultures have chosen cremation as a method of disposition. In recent years, the number of people in the United States and Canada choosing cremation has increased.
Some people believe that at the time of death only two basic choices exist; immediate cremation (direct cremation) of the body or a “complete” funeral that includes viewing and burial. Actually, cremation is one form of disposition. Thus, it is simply one part of a funeral. There are several opportunities to create meaningful ceremonies – both before and after cremation takes place.