Cremation has been widely recognized by everyone after their dear one’s death, but the process of cleaning and embalming the body is still uncertain to many. The process of preparing a body for cremation needs to be done with respect and dignity and can involve many steps such as embalming, dressing, metal removal, and identification.
Cleaning and Embalming the Body
Medical waste items and other things need to be removed from a body before it is cremated. Embalming is usually not required for cremation, however, it can be used to reduce the rate of decomposition for those that choose to have viewing services. During this process, preservative chemicals and dyes are injected into the tissues in an effort to slow the decaying process.
One embalming of the body is completed, they are adorned with dresses and accessories. A special ID tag or toe tag is placed on the body to be used as an identification throughout the entire cremation process. Even though no viewing will be done, for those wishing to have a funeral service, this step allows the family to say their final goodbye.
The coffin is not kept open at any time during the cremation process. After the body has been groomed and dressed, a linen cover will be placed over them and straps are used to securely fasten the cover over the coffin lid. Workers then place the casket on a gurney that is then taken into the chamber of the crematory where it will be burned at high temperatures until reduced to calcified bone fragments. After that, workers collect these fragments and put them through a device called a ‘cremulator’ which turns them into ash before they are given back to family members in an urn or scattered according to their wishes.
Dressing the Deceased in Appropriate Clothing
Before the body is cremated, it must be dressed and embalming properly. Family members will often provide clothing for this purpose which helps to honor the deceased and creates a more dignified farewell. Generally, these clothes are easy to put on and remove for cremation. If no specific clothing is provided, a basic shroud or removable clothing will be used instead.
During the preparation process, the deceased will first be washed and disinfected before dressing in their chosen garments. Next, the mouth and nose are closed and if necessary, the eyes are shut with eye caps. In order to make sure no liquid exerts while doing the process, a tissue or cotton is used. Once dressed, the body is closed in either a casket board or casket box before being carried to the cremation chamber.
It is important that the family of the deceased take care when choosing garments for the body. Bright, vibrant colors should be avoided, as the high heat from cremation can cause them to melt and stain. More absorbent materials, such as cotton and wool, should be chosen over silk or nylon fabrics. Additionally, any clothing with buttons or closures should be avoided due to damage caused by the high temperatures in the chamber. Once dressed, it is also recommended that a personal item belonging to the deceased is sewn into the clothing to help identify their remains during this stage of preparation.
Placement of the Deceased in a Coffin or Other Container
After the appropriate clothing has been chosen and put on the body, a casket or other container must be used for placement of the body. The casket should always have sufficient room for the movement of air around the body to maximize proper heating during cremation. It should also be lined with a flame retardant material in order to prevent the burning of the casket. In some cases, bodies may also be placed in an alternative container such as a combustible cardboard box, if placed inside a coffin or an approved container is not desired.
The body should be laid in a dignified fashion with hands at the sides, facing upwards, and feet slightly apart. In some cases, religious or ritual customs dictate that certain items should be placed with the body, such as Bibles, objects of special significance to the deceased individual, or special clothing. After any suitable items have been placed inside the casket with the body, it may be closed and conveyed to a crematory.
Depending on the type of casket chosen by the family of the deceased, it may be composed of a variety of materials from a wooden box to an all-metal container. The casket must be combustible so that extreme heat can reduce it and its contents to ashes. A cremation container made or covered with materials such as glass, plastic, marble, or other non-combustible materials is unsuitable for cremation purposes and will either need to be removed or replaced before proceeding with cremation. Once ready for transport, a memorial service may take place at the funeral home prior to departing for the crematory.
The Process of Cremation and the Timelines Involved
Once the body has been dressed and placed in the coffin or alternative container, it is then transported to a crematorium where the actual process of cremation will begin. Generally, a normal-sized body will take approximately two hours to accomplish, although larger bodies may take longer. Ultimately, the time involved varies greatly because each individual facility operates differently. Additionally, the process must be monitored carefully to ensure that all legal guidelines are followed throughout each procedure.
Prior to the actual cremation, paperwork, and permits must be created and reviewed by a legal authority. This ensures that all rules and regulations regarding the process are followed. Once this is completed, the body is then placed in a coffin or other approved alternative container. It is here where the tribute through jewellery and clothing may be added to personalize the body for its journey to its final resting place. Afterward, any special items can then be put inside a special box and given to family members for keepsake purposes.
The body is then either taken to the crematorium or sent off in a funeral procession where family and friends may follow. Once the crematorium is reached, staff will perform one final safety check to verify that the correct body is being cremated and that no jewelry or clothing has been left attached to it. Weight and identity are checked to make sure all documentation matches before the coffin is placed in the cremation chamber. Once ready, the chamber will reach temperatures between 1354-1816°F for two to three hours until all the contents have been reduced to ashes. Any additional remains are then collected in an urn and given back to the family for further disposition.