Cremation is the process of reducing a dead body to its natural elements by subjecting it to intense heat and vaporization. This incineration of the body takes place in a cremation chamber of a crematorium.
The cremains so obtained consist of skeletal remains and dried bone fragments that are further pulverized to get a fine powder of uniform consistency.
In some cultures, particularly in Japan and Taiwan, the cremated remains are not required to be pulverized as they are used in a bone-picking ritual performed before the final interment.
Besides, Hinduism requires burning of the body on a pyre or pile of wood so as to induce a spirit of detachment in the departed soul.
Cremations can be performed with or without funeral ceremonies and viewing/visitation. People usually opt for direct cremations when simple, quick and inexpensive cremations are required because direct or immediate cremations do not include funeral and memorial services.
At times, families prefer to have a memorial service for the loved one after the cremation. These ceremonies help the relatives and representatives of the deceased express their sorrow and cope with the grief.
Types of Cremations
Cremations can be of different types, depending on the way you prefer to dispose of the cremated remains of your loved one. You can scatter the ashes into air, over land, or water.
You may scatter the ashes on private property (with the owner’s permission), public park (check the local laws beforehand), or at a place that held great significance in the life of your loved one. Besides, you can bury the cremation remains, or keep them in your home.
Methods of Scattering the Ashes
Casting: It means that you simply toss the cremated remains on the wind (cast downwards). Make sure you check the direction of the wind before following this method. You may involve a group in this activity and ask everyone to take turns and scatter the ashes partially.
Trenching: As the name suggests, this method involves digging a shallow trench in soil, pouring the ashes in the hole and then cover it with soil.
You may consider lighting candles in the area and decorating it with mementos. Trenching can also be done on a beach so that the tide may wash the remains of your loved one back to the sea.
Raking: In this method, the ashes are poured evenly on loose soil and then raked into the ground. This procedure is usually followed while disposing of the cremated remains in a scattering garden after holding an ash-scattering ceremony. You may ask your funeral director help you find a scattering garden in your area.
Ringing: Form a ring on the ground around an object like a tree, or a group of candles, hold the cremation urn close to the ground and pour the ashes on the ring (you may dig a trench on the ring). Another similar way to dispose of the ashes is to pour the remains in a particular shape such as heart, star, etc.
Water scattering: You may disperse the cremated remains into a lake, sea or ocean directly or in a water-soluble cremation urn that floats for a few minutes and then slowly sinks or dissolves.
Consider tossing flower petals and wreaths into the water as a tribute. You can record the navigational coordinates of the site if you want to visit this place again in the future. Certain states do not allow scattering the ashes in a fresh water body.
Aerial scattering: This method requires a professional to cast the ashes from a private plane at a specific location. You may have to pay an additional fee if you want to board the plane and witness the scattering. Otherwise, most professionals provide photos and certificates listing the date, time, and location of scattering.
Besides, there are options like helium balloon scattering, ‘Holyland’ ash scattering, cremation fireworks, making a memorial reef, creating cremation glass or diamond, and so on.
Burying or Entombment
The cremated remains may be buried in a cremation plot in a cemetery, placed in a columbarium niche, or entombed in a crypt within a mausoleum.
The cremains need not be pulverized when considering these options. When burying the ashes in a family plot, you may keep the cremated remains in a biodegradable urn.