Questions About the Cremation Process

What is cremation?

To begin with, it is probably easier to describe what cremation isn't. Cremation is not final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service. Rather, it is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.

How long does the actual cremation process take?

It depends on the weight of the individual. For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

What happens after the cremation is complete?

All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-reduced metal items are "swept" into the front of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan. All non-reduced items, like metal from clothing, hip joints, and bridge work, are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn selected by the family.

What do the cremated remains look like?

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds of cremated remains.

In what kind of container are the cremated remains returned?

The cremated remains are placed in a durable plastic bag that is then placed inside a basic plastic container, or they may be placed in the urn of your choice from our large selection of urns available for purchase.

Are all the cremated remains returned?

With the exception of microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

There are many options.  Cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered on private property. Cremated remains can also be scattered upon some bodies of water or inurned in a man-made reef. You can also have a diamond created from cremated remains. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you and help you with any arrangements.

Questions About Urns, Caskets Embalming

Do I need an urn?

An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial ceremony or the cremated remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not selected, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary container.

Is a casket needed for cremation?

No, a casket is not required for cremation. All that is required by state law is a rigid container which is cremated with the body.

Is embalming required prior to cremation?

Absolutely not and it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.

Can the body be viewed without embalming?

Yes. However, under certain circumstances embalming may be required, such as a public visitation.

Concerns About Cremation

Are there any laws governing cremation?

Cremation regulations vary from state-to-state. In the State of Virginia, cremation can only take place when the following conditions have been met: Identification of the decedent by the next of kin or authorized person. The doctor has completed and signed the death certificate. A viewing and signed Cremation Certificate by the Medical Examiner. The Cremation Authorization form is completed and signed by the family, legal next of kin or designee of the deceased and no objections to cremation have been raised by any party to Richmond Cremation. The person or persons signing the Cremation Authorization form has or have, if determined necessary in the sole discretion of Richmond Cremation, signed an Indemnification Agreement related to the authorizations and directions contained in the Cremation Authorization. The deceased is placed in an appropriate cremation container for the cremation process.

Can two cremations be performed at once?

Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers cannot accommodate more than one adult. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.

Can the family witness the cremation?

Yes. Richmond Cremation is designed to allow family members to be present when the body is placed into the cremation chamber and wait while the process takes place.

Religious Questions and Concerns

Is cremation accepted by all religions?

Today most religions allow cremation except for Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and a few fundamentalist Christian faiths. The Catholic Church accepts cremation as long as it is not chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teachings.

Can an urn be brought into a church?

Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial ceremony. If the family is planning on a memorial ceremony, we encourage the cremated remains be present as it provides a focal point for the ceremony.

Other Frequent Questions

Do people choose cremation only to save money?

While some people select cremation for economy, many choose this option for other reasons. The simplicity and dignity of cremation, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation affords in ceremony planning and final disposition all add to its increasing popularity.

Are there any special benefits for veterans?

Veterans benefits may be available for veterans' families who pass away in a VA hospital, or a VA contracted health care facility. A government provided flag may also be available for the next of kin. Your funeral director can help you make arrangements for the cremated remains to be interred in a National Cemetery. The cemetery provides the grave, cost to open and close the grave, and the head stone. If the Veteran is not interred in a National Cemetery, they are still entitled to Military Honors, which may take place at another cemetery or place of ceremony, such as a church. If cremated remains are buried in a non-military cemetery, the government issued head stone is still available.

Is there any assistance for families in need?

Local Social Service benefits for cremation may be available if the deceased meets the eligibility requirements from the local Social Services department.  Some localities in the Richmond area offer this type of assistance, others do not.