What is Cremation?

Cremation is not a final disposition process. It is another step in the memorialization process. After cremation takes place, families need to make a choice for the final disposition of cremated remains. Final disposition options include placing the cremated remains in a decorative urn to be displayed in the home or in a niche or columbarium, burying the cremated remains in a cemetery, or scattering the cremated remains. Our Allen Brothers staff will explain the various options for your loved one's final disposition.


Common Questions about Cremation


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Does my religion allow cremation? TOP

Most religions today accept the practice of cremation, with the exception of Orthodox Judaism and Islam. In some traditions, such as Hinduism, it is the preferred method of disposition. If you aren't sure whether cremation is acceptable in your own religious tradition, don't hesitate to ask your clergyman.



Are traditional services and cremation services different? TOP

No,  If your preference is cremation, you can still hold traditional services such as a viewing and a funeral. Whether you choose cremation or burial, the same services are available to you, including formal services that include music, prayers and other rites.

A viewing with an open casket may precede the cremation. In fact, it is important to still hold some kind of special service to assist the bereaved in the grieving process and to allow friends and neighbors to pay their respects.

It is important to remember that the cremation process is not an end in itself. As cremation grows in popularity, so does the memorial service - a special service that takes place after cremation has occurred. The body is not present during a memorial service, but the cremated remains in a decorative urn could be included along with a photo of your loved one. A memorial service allows family and friends to come together to remember the deceased, just as a visitation does.



Can I have a viewing/visitation and funeral if I choose cremation? TOP

Absolutely. Cremation, like burial, is only a final disposition.  Choosing cremation does not limit the types of services you may choose. Traditional services, memorial services, and graveside services are all available with cremation.

If you choose to have a visitation/viewing or a funeral, the cremation process will take place after these ceremonies have concluded. You can choose to have an open casket at the funeral. Nearly every wooden casket can be cremated, and we offer several attractive wooden caskets that are designed specifically for cremation. A memorial service, held after the cremation has occurred, may or may not include the presence of the urn.  A graveside service can be scheduled if the urn is to placed in a niche at a cemetery or church.

All services are a celebration of the person's life and pay tribute to your loved one as well as providing comfort and closure to family and friends attending the service.  The choices are yours, as always.



Can I plan for cremation in advance? TOP

 Yes. For more information about planning a funeral in advance, please visit our Pre Planning page.



 Is embalming required?  TOP

No.  Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.



Is a casket required? TOP

Most crematories require that the body be encased in a combustible, rigid container. Any wood casket will satisfy this requirement. Some wood caskets are designed specifically for cremation. You can also choose to use alternative containers of cardboard, particle board, etc. Generally speaking, a cremation container must be strong enough to assure the safety of the crematory operator as well as provide proper covering and meet reasonable standards of respect and dignity of the deceased. Ask your funeral director what options are available.



How can we be sure that we receive the correct cremated remains back? TOP

Some families are concerned that they will not receive the correct cremated remains back from the crematory. This stress arises from the simple fact that cremation is an irreversible process, and cremation destroys all DNA evidence in the remains. To ease your concerns, our crematory places the utmost importance on our identification process. This ensures that you will receive the cremated remains of your loved one. Some crematories offer the ability to witness the body being placed in the cremation chamber. This can help ease anxieties about whose remains are returned to the family. If you are concerned, ask your funeral director for more information.



What can we do with our loved one's cremated remains? TOP

When you choose cremation, you actually have more choices for a final resting place than with typical earth burial.


Just as a casket can be buried in a cemetery, so too can an urn.  You may opt to have an urn buried in a family plot or in the town cemetery.  Often, more than one urn can be placed within one gravesite for couples that would like to be laid to rest together.  Any type of bronze or granite marker can be used to identify the place where the cremated remains are buried.

Urns can also be placed in columbaria, or collections of niches.  Each urn has its own place and can be marked with a memorial plaque.  Many cemeteries have urn columbaria; some churches will have niches for urn placement as well.

Scattering Cremated Remains

Many individuals like the idea of returning cremated remains to the earth through scattering. Many cemeteries today offer special gardens or designated areas for the scattering of cremated remains, complete with a memorial marker or entry in a memorial book for remembrance.

For the adventurous, there are several services that will scatter cremated remains over water, from a boat or an airplane, or even make them part of a coral reef.

Multiple Urns

Cremated remains do not have to be placed in just one urn. They can be divided among several small keepsake urns or cremation jewelry. This allows family members a great deal of comfort when they are separated by long distances.

Portions of cremated remains can be scattered, made into jewelry or art, buried, or all of the above. It is all a matter of preference.

The State of California gives families certain options for cremated remains disposition.

  • Cremated remains can be kept at home and can be separated and shared among loved ones if you so choose.
  • They can be interred at a cemetery in ground, in a columbarium or niche or in a cemetery scattering garden; all of which gives surviving family and friends a place to go and memorialize.
  • Cremated remains can be interred in a house of worship or religious shrine if your church or place of worship has its own columbarium or other facility for cremated remains.
  • Cremated remains can be scattered at sea at least 500 yards off the shore.
  • Cremated remains can be scattered on private property or state property with written permission from the property owner or governing agency.
  • Cremated remains can be carried on board an airplane or shipped to another location, in an approved container, with a proper permit.

Restrictions include:

  • Ashes cannot be placed or scattered on public land or at historic places or landmarks without written permission by the governing agency.
  • Cremated remains cannot be transported without a permit.
  • Cremated remains cannot be scattered from the shore of a lake, river, or beach.
  • Cremated remains cannot be disposed of in refuse or sewer systems.




Can we take cremated remains on a plane? TOP 

Yes, you can carry cremated remains with you on an airline. Some airlines do not accept cremated remains as checked luggage. You must contact the airline directly to verify this. If you plan to transport an urn as a carry-on item, the urn must be able to pass through the x-ray scanner. You'll also need to carry proper documentation with you (certified death certificate, certificate of cremation, etc.). If the urn cannot be scanned, it will not be permitted on the flight. Under no circumstances will a TSA employee open an urn to inspect its contents, even if the family insists. Click here for the TSA's official guidelines regarding the transport of cremated remains.

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