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Funeral Cremations and Burials

How Does Cremation Work? Understanding The Whole Process

October 18, 2023

How Does Cremation Work? Unpacking the Topic of Cremations

If you’re doing your research, and looking to find what is the cremation process? You’re in the right place! Cremation is the ancient practice of reducing a body to its fundamental elements through intense heat, it has experienced a marked resurgence in modern times. Across the globe, and notably in regions like Perth, there’s been a discernible shift towards this method for final rites. While once considered an alternative to traditional burial, cremation has established itself as a mainstream option for many families and individuals. This trend isn’t solely attributed to changing societal norms or progress in crematory technology. Instead, a variety of reasons contribute to this inclination. Environmental concerns, spatial considerations in urban settings, economic factors and evolving spiritual beliefs all present cremations as a viable choice for many. Choosing a cremation over a burial highlights the need for a deeper understanding and a compassionate discussion around it.

History of Cremation

Cremation has a long-standing history, with its practice spanning numerous cultures and time periods. Ancient civilisations such as the Greeks and Indigenous Australian communities have documented instances of cremation. The reasons behind its adoption varied, from religious and spiritual beliefs to societal norms. Over time the fundamental purpose remained consistent: it served as a way to respectfully handle and memorialise the deceased. This method, which involves reducing the body to ash through heat, has been adopted and adapted differently across various cultures, but the core principle of honouring the departed remains central to its practice.

What is The Cremation Process

To provide clarity on the cremation process and how long it takes to creamte a body, the following steps detail the journey from preparation to the final remains:

Preparation

Before the cremation, the deceased’s body undergoes a preparatory phase involving the removal of certain medical devices and jewellery. These steps ensure that no foreign materials enter the cremation chamber, which could pose risks. The body is also identified multiple times to maintain the integrity of the process and to ensure that families receive the correct remains.

Incineration

The body is usually placed in a combustible, eco-friendly casket and is exposed to temperatures ranging from 700°C to 1000°C. This high-heat process reduces the body primarily to bone fragments and gases. The chamber, known as a retort, is specially designed to handle these temperatures and ensure complete reduction.

Cooling and Processing

Following the incineration, the remains are allowed to cool. This cooling period can last several hours. Once cooled, the remains are processed to produce the fine granular texture referred to as ashes. This stage ensures that the final remains are uniform and suitable for return to families.

Misconceptions about Ashes

One prevalent misconception, especially among those unfamiliar with cremation, is the origin of the ashes. Many assume the ashes are a direct byproduct of the burning process. However, these “ashes” are derived from the ground bone fragments, entirely distinct from any ash residue that results from combustion. Proper education and communication can help dispel such myths and offer a clearer understanding of the process.

Benefits of Cremation

Environmental Considerations

More individuals today are concerned about the environmental footprint they leave behind. In this context, cremation often appears a more sustainable choice. Traditional burials require land, which in growing cities like Perth, becomes a resource under strain. Additionally, the materials used in burials, from coffins to embalming fluids, can have long-term environmental impacts.

Financial Benefits

Cremation typically offers a cost advantage compared with burials, where costs of the burial plot, casket, headstone and ongoing maintenance can add up. Additionally, many Australians are finding cremation to be a budget-friendly option, especially in urban areas where land costs are higher.

Flexibility in Memorials

Cremation provides versatility in how one commemorates the deceased. Ashes can be scattered in a location that holds significance, crafted into jewellery or incorporated into artworks. Such diverse options allow for a deeply personal memorial experience, this flexibility often resonates with families wanting a unique way to remember their loved ones.

Cultural and Religious Perspectives

The views on cremation, when viewed through the lens of culture and religion, are as varied as the cultures themselves. While Hinduism regards cremation as a rite that helps free the soul, traditional Christian, Islamic, and Jewish teachings have historically leaned towards burial. However, with globalisation and the mingling of cultural practices, even these views are undergoing transformations.

Cremation in Perth

Understanding cremation in Perth means being familiar with local regulations and knowing the range of facilities on offer. Western Australia has clear rules to ensure that cremations are carried out safely and respectfully. These rules focus on reducing environmental impact and respecting the diverse cultural practices of the community.

Perth is home to several cremation facilities, each with distinct features. There are options that emphasise sustainability and others that combine the latest technology with traditional practices. Given the variety, individuals and families can find a service that meets their specific needs. It’s also worth noting that many facilities offer additional support, like counselling, to help people through the process. This ensures that both the practical and emotional aspects of cremation are considered and addressed.

Cremation vs. Burial

Cremation Pros

More cost-effective in the long run, environmentally-conscious and offers versatile memorialisation options. The initial costs are lower than a burial and there’s no need for a burial plot, which can be especially costly in urban Australian areas. Additionally, with concerns about the environment being front and centre, many people find the reduced land usage of cremation appealing.

Cremation Cons

It’s irreversible and there’s no going back to retrieve the body. Some people find this finality difficult to reconcile with. Certain cultural and religious groups have strong feelings against cremation, making it a less viable option for them.

Burial Pros

Provides a tangible space for remembrance, allowing families and friends a physical location to visit. Numerous cultural and religious practices, with many traditions having specified burial rites that have been followed for generations. For many, there’s comfort in knowing a loved one has been laid to rest on the earth.

Burial Cons

There’s a significant higher land usage associated with burials, which has become a pressing concern as available spaces in cemeteries dwindle, especially in populous areas. From a financial perspective, burials can quickly become pricier when factoring in the cost of the plot, headstone, and ongoing maintenance. Environmentally, the decay process in burials can take years, with certain embalming chemicals potentially having longer-lasting impacts on the soil.

Conclusion & Resources

Navigating final rites in Perth requires careful consideration and clear decision-making. As cremation becomes a more common option, it is essential for individuals and families to have accurate information, especially on how long a cremation takes. Being informed aids in making a choice that aligns with personal values, and understanding associated traditions can also help ease the emotional weight of the decision. For those in Perth facing this important choice, local community centres, spiritual leaders, and even discussions with friends or neighbours who’ve undergone similar experiences are invaluable resources. Additionally, reaching out to Perth’s established cremation services can offer practical advice, guiding individuals towards informed choices and helping them find clarity and comfort during these significant moments in life.


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