People often ask…

Do you have clothes on when you are cremated?

Usually.  Your funeral director will take your direction. If there has been a traditional funeral, with visiting, casket and deceased present; then the person goes to the crematorium in whatever they were dressed in.  Jewelry, glasses and other items that should not be cremated (as they do not reduce to ash), are removed and returned to the family.  If there is no visiting prior, you may still view your loved one before cremation takes place (typically called an identification). If you bring clothing into the funeral home, your funeral director will ensure your loved one is dressed in whatever you bring in.  Should you choose not to see your loved one again, they can still be dressed at your request. When it is a direct cremation without service or viewing, the person is usually cremated in whatever they passed away in (hospital gown, street clothes, etc.).

Are caskets burned during cremation?

Yes; the casket/cremation container is cremated. The deceased person cannot be safely placed into the cremation chamber unless a casket (rigid container) is used. The casket is placed on a set of rollers to slide smoothly into the centre of the cremation chamber for even heat distribution and for the safety of the operator (a bendable container would be difficult and dangerous to try to push into a preheated cremation chamber).  There is a wide range of containers available for cremation. They can be made of wood, wicker, pressboard or cardboard with a rigid plywood base.

Do your teeth/bones and artificial hip turn to ash when cremated?

In short, no. However, they are not typically recognizable as teeth, specific bones or “hinges” after the initial cremation process (the actual incineration). The secondary step of cremation is running both large and small magnet type instruments through the cremated remains to remove any metals that did not reduce. A visual check is also done at this time and any other non-incinerated items such as glass, other personal items not removed prior to cremation, i.e., a special rock, glass, or the remnants of any artificial or enhanced joints, etc., are physically removed before the third step, which is the use of a specialized processing machine that helps to break down remaining bone fragments.   Although cremated remains are commonly called ashes, bone fragments are included.  The size of the bone fragments is dependent on the blade condition of the processing machine. The remaining metals that were removed during the second stage are typically taken to a recycling facility, with the proceeds going back into the community in some way.

How do I know I got my loved one’s cremated remains and not someone else?

The chain of identification in Ontario is quite involved. An original number is assigned to each cremation as it is received at the crematorium. If there is any discrepancy between the paperwork presented to the crematorium operator, such as a name being spelled differently on the burial permit to the cremation application form, the operator will not proceed with the cremation until the discrepancy is adjusted.  The number assigned to each person is pre-embossed into a steel disc. That number is recorded in a ledger and the disc is placed on the outside of the container. When ready to be placed in the chamber, that same disc is attached to the outside of the chamber. When the incineration of person and container is completed, that same disc is attached to the collection container (metal bin that holds everything that has been removed from the cremation chamber). The disc is then placed outside of the processing machine and ultimately placed with the finished product of the cremation. Before being returned to the funeral home, the number on the disc is once again checked with the accompanying paperwork to ensure all matches.

Am I allowed to scatter the cremated remains?

Yes.  With some guidelines. The below information was taken directly from “The Consumer Protection Ontario” website:

In Ontario you may:

  • buy rights to bury or scatter the cremated remains in a registered cemetery
  • buy rights to place the cremated remains in a niche within a columbarium in a registered cemetery. (A columbarium is an above-ground structure that contains a number of niches. Placing the cremated remains in a niche is an interment, meaning a burial)
  • scatter cremated remains on private property with the consent of the landowner (if a landowner wants to allow repeated scatterings to take place on a specific piece of his or her property, he or she must establish that land as a cemetery and have a licensed cemetery operator for the cemetery)
  • sign a contract with the licensed operator of a cemetery, crematorium, funeral home or transfer service to scatter the cremated remains on your behalf
  • scatter cremated remains on Crown land, including land covered by water, if its unoccupied (e.g., provincial park, conservation reserve, Great Lakes) and there are no signs or postings that prohibit scattering
  • scatter cremated remains on municipally-owned lands (contact the municipality to check if there are by-laws that prohibit scattering in certain areas such as municipal parks)
  • transport cremated remains out of Ontario

Do I have to purchase an urn from the funeral home?

No, you do not.  You may purchase an urn online, make your own, or keep the cremated remains in the utility container that the crematorium has placed them in.  However, when you do purchase an urn and/or cremation jewelry from the funeral home, you have the piece of mind that the urn will fit together well and your loved one’s cremated remains will not seep out.

Written by: Cam Skipper, Gilchrist Chapel of McIntyre & Wilkie Funeral Home Ltd.

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