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Cremation FAQ

The Family Service Advisers at Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium have provided answers to some of the questions they are frequently asked. If you have a question that is not answered below, feel free to contact us on (02) 9887 2033.

  1. What is cremation?
  2. Why do people select cremation?
  3. What is the cremation process?
  4. Does cremation replace a funeral?
  5. What rules and regulations govern cremation procedures?
  6. What is an ash container?
  7. Is cremation acceptable to all religions?
  8. Is more than one person cremated at the same time?
  9. What is a cremator made from?
  10. How is the coffin or casket placed in the cremator?
  11. How long does a cremation take?
  12. Can we have a viewing if we want a cremation?
  13. Are special cremation containers and caskets available?
  14. Do I have to buy a coffin or casket when choosing cremation?
  15. Do you have to embalm the body even though it will be cremated?
  16. Are the services held before or after a cremation?
  17. How does a memorial service differ from a traditional funeral?
  18. What happens to the cremated remains?
  19. What do most people do with the urn?
  20. Why is it important to select a final resting place for cremated remains?
  21. Is cremation less expensive than traditional burials?
  22. How can we memorialise a cremation?

1. What is cremation?

Cremation is a method for preparing the deceased for memorialisation. The process has been practised throughout human history, and is considered an alternative to traditional earth burial or entombment. Scientifically speaking, it is a process of reducing a deceased human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.

2. Why do people select cremation?

The reasons for choosing cremation are as varied and unique as the individuals selecting it. Some choose cremation based on their feelings toward environmental issues and land usage. For many, it is a choice that reflects the individual’s philosophical or religious beliefs. Others choose cremation to simplify the experience and save money.

3. What is the cremation process?

Cremators generally comprise two chambers and a cooling tray (some cremators operate with three chambers and cooling tray). The coffin is cremated within the first chamber. In accordance with Health Department Regulations, coffins must be cremated separately, or in other words, only one coffin is ever placed inside the first cremation chamber at any one time.

At the completion of this initial phase of the cremation process the remains are relocated to the second chamber to remove any ash from the coffin itself. Once this has been completed the remnants of the deceased are placed into a cooling tray. When cooled, metallic contents (such as prostheses, coffin nails etc) are removed, collected and interred within the grounds of the crematorium.

4. Does cremation replace a funeral?

Cremation does not replace a funeral, rather it allows for more choices when it comes to choosing a loved one’s final resting place, selecting a permanent memorial, and bringing the bereaved together to pay tribute to the deceased.

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5. What rules and regulations govern cremation procedures?

The cemetery you choose should adhere to a range of rules and regulations. Check before you make your selection that the cemetery and crematorium do the following:

  • Abide by Government regulations, including those of the State Government Health Department
  • Have strict policies, procedures and code of behaviour
  • Ensure the name plate remains alongside the deceased throughout the cremation process
  • Ensure cremated remains of an individual are kept together and not mixed with other cremated remains
  • Bury unclaimed cremated remains in a dignified manner within the grounds of the crematorium

6. What is an ash container?

The cremated remains are transferred to a processor to reduce the bone fragments to a fine granule type consistency which in turn is placed in a sealed container. The name plate and an identifying label are attached.
The container accommodates all of the cremated remains. In the unusual event that an ash container is insufficient to hold all of the ashes, an extra container is used.

Ash containers are held until instructions are received from the family or applicant. The ashes are then, subject to Health Regulations, dealt with according to the instruction given.

7. Is cremation acceptable to all religions?

Cremation is usually not acceptable within Orthodox Judaism, Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy. However, most Christian denominations approve cremation, and it is the preferred method among Hindus and many Buddhists.

The Roman Catholic Church no longer considers there to be a danger that Christian cremation will be associated with non-Christian belief, or with a denial of such doctrines as the resurrection of the body, immortality of the soul, and the existence of eternal life. The Catholic Church recommends cremated remains are disposed of in a way that indicates respect for the body of the deceased person.

A memorial in a public place is favoured so that even in death the deceased person’s commitment to Christianity is still proclaimed.

8. Is more than one person cremated at the same time?

One person is only ever cremated at a time. The only exception is in the case of a mother and baby or twin children. It may also be acceptable for both a mother and baby or twin children to be in the same coffin. In these instances, approval is sought from the Health Department.

9. What is a cremator made from?

A cremator is made from refractory (heat resistant) bricks and fuelled by natural gas.

10. How is the coffin or casket placed in the cremator?

The coffin is always inserted into the cremator feet first.

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11. How long does a cremation take?

The time taken to cremate will depend on many factors including body mass, bone density and the materials from which the coffin is manufactured. The average time for an adult cremation is 90 minutes at a temperature of between 800 and 1000 degree Celsius. On average from insertion to final cooling the cremation process may take up to four hours.

12. Can we have a viewing if we want a cremation?

A viewing can help in the grieving process by helping confirm the reality that a death has occurred and provides families with final closure.

13. Are special cremation containers and caskets available?

There is a wide variety of cremation containers including caskets, alternative containers and urns to meet each family's needs. A cremation casket is a special casket constructed from materials that are environmentally friendly. It appears very similar to burial caskets and may be used for a visitation and/or a funeral ceremony or gathering. It is cremated with the person. There are also a variety of alternative containers from which to choose.

14. Do I have to buy a coffin or casket when choosing cremation?

Crematoriums will require a suitable container to house the body for the cremation.

15. Do you have to embalm the body even though it will be cremated?

No, unless refrigeration is not available or you select a service with a formal viewing or visitation.

16. Are the services held before or after a cremation?

Services are held at the discretion of the family. The service or gathering is a place and time for family and friends to come together to celebrate special memories of the deceased and to support each other during this time of loss. Many choose to have a traditional service first, followed by the cremation. Others may have a memorial service at some point before or after the cremation.

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17. How does a memorial service differ from a traditional funeral?

A gathering of friends, family and/or clergy provides a meaningful personalised tribute for the person who has died as well as support for the living. The difference between a memorial service and traditional funeral ceremony is that the casket and deceased are not present at a memorial service and are present at a traditional funeral ceremony. Some families also choose to have memorial services with the urn present and that option is available as well.

18. What happens to the cremated remains?

There are several options to consider with a cremation. A family can choose to bury the cremated remains in a cemetery, store and display them at home in an urn, or scatter them in a place special to the deceased. Many cemeteries have created areas specifically for cremated remains. These areas may be in a mausoleum, a wall niche, in a ground burial area or in a cremation garden offering even more choices.

19. What do most people do with the urn?

There are many choices for selecting a final resting place for the urn, including wall niches in a mausoleum and in-ground burial.

20. Why is it important to select a final resting place for cremated remains?

Whether you choose to scatter the cremated remains or place them in an urn, it is important to choose a final resting place. This provides your family and friends with a focal point to assist them in remembering the life that was lived.

21. Is cremation less expensive than traditional burials?

There is a wide selection of choices and price ranges for cremation services and products. As with traditional burial, the family will decide how much or how little to spend on a cremation service.

22. How can we memorialise a cremation?

There are many ways to memorialise a deceased after cremation. One option is burial of the urn, marked with a bronze memorial or the cremated remains can be placed in a wall niche, rose garden, rock estate, to name a few. There are also memorialisation options available, including keepsake urns.

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To find out more about Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium and the services we offer, please call us on (02) 9887 2033 or email us below.

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