Why Choose Cremation?

Cremation in Canada offers many benefits as a means of disposition.  Indeed cremation is already a popular choice for families in Canada, as the harsh North Hemisphere winters mean there can be many months when burial is not possible due to frozen ground in many Provinces.

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has witnessed a significant growth in cremation as a funeral option in recent years.  The Association reports that cremation in Canada has grown by nearly 30% over the last 30 years, and this is expected to increase further.

Culturally our attitude to death and disposition is also in flux, and there is a distinct move away from the once ‘traditional’ burial.  Although, burial still remains a very traditional means of disposition for the Native American indigenous population of Canada.

The death and funeral ritual is one of disposition, but also one of memorialization.  A misconception can be that a cremation negates the need for a memorial funeral service, but this is not so.  Cremation is just a means by which the deceased’s remains are processed following death, and in preparation for a funeral service.

What are the benefits of Cremation over Burial?

Choosing to cremate a body can prove to be a significantly cheaper option than a burial.  Cremation can eliminate such costs as embalming, cosmetizing, a viewing, and even the cost for a casket and a burial vault.  The costs for Cremation Urns and even interment for cremains in a Memorial garden can be notably cheaper. 

Cremation is no less dignified than a burial but can save the bereaved family $1,000’s in funeral expenses.  Direct Cremations in Canada these days can start from as little as $695.00.  Understandably, with the tougher economic times of late hitting Canadians, the reduced cost of a cremation is greatly influencing choice. Paying excessively for a funeral service is not dignified, nor is it an option for many families.  It can be a real worry to have to meet funeral expenses, and arranging a simple and affordable means by which to undertake the disposition, is by far the greatest concern.

Cremation offers some flexibility for the family in terms of memorial service.  A funeral service can be conducted at the time of cremation, and indeed at the crematorium itself.  Alternatively, a cremation can be performed and a funeral service for the family arranged at a later date.  The benefit of this is that families can arrange a service at a time that best suits them.  With the vast geography of Canada, getting family together for a funeral service can require some planning, and therefore the benefit of a post-cremation service means that a time can be arranged that allows for the family to make travel arrangements.

These days we are all seeking to ‘customize’ our identity and personalize artifacts.  This extends to our death ritual, and cremation does offer greater options for personalization.  Once a cremation is performed a totally unique memorial service can be conducted.  The days of keeping Granny’s ashes safely on the mantelpiece, or placed safely in the crematorium memorial garden, are fading in popularity. 

These days people are opting for the more unusual when it comes to their final resting place.  Ash Scattering has grown hugely as a business emerging out of the funeral industry, and there is now an array of ash scattering options to select from.  From being blasted into space, made into fireworks, scattered at sea or by air….or just cast to the wind on your favourite spot!   As opposed to the single traditional cremation urn, there are a number of different keepsake urns available on the market today.  So if keeping Granny’s ashes becomes a family dispute, a proportion of ashes can be shared between a number of smaller keepsake urns and shared between family members.

The key benefits of cremation can therefore mean that choosing a cremation can save you money on funeral expenses, offer you greater flexibility in arranging a memorial service, and allow you to make the whole ritual a unique, personalized tribute which truly reflects the personality of the deceased. 

Cremation service

Cremation Service Options

Direct Cremation Service

The most economical (and now most popular) cremation service option is a basic no-service cremation. This is what is known as a “direct cremation service”.  The deceased is collected, transferred into the care of the funeral home or crematorium, all the legal paperwork is completed, the cremation is conducted, and the ashes returned directly to the family.  No ceremony or service is conducted prior to the cremation, but a memorial service can be held at a later date.

Direct cremation will cost anywhere between $700 and $1,500 (depending upon your city and Province).  Although, please note that some more rural areas may not offer a direct cremation for this price, and the cost is likely to be closer to $2,000 – $3,000.

Family viewing and Cremation

Some families who choose cremation want to be able to see the deceased prior to cremation but do not want a funeral service. In this case, the funeral home will offer a quiet family viewing before proceeding with the cremation.

Cremation Funeral Service

A cremation funeral service is a full-service funeral followed by the cremation.  The deceased may be present in repose in a casket, a ceremony is held for family and friends, and afterward, the funeral home will conduct the cremation.  A cremation funeral service will cost in the region of $5,000 – $10,000 depending on the casket, ceremony, and ancillary services.

Cremation Memorial Service

A cremation memorial service is where the cremation is conducted first, and then a memorial service is held.  The memorial ceremony may be arranged by (and at) the funeral home, and often with the cremation urn present as a focal point.  However, you can opt to arrange a memorial service wherever you choose.

What do I legally need to know about arranging a cremation?

There are funeral licensing laws that govern how funeral establishments must handle taking care of the deceased. The funeral director will take care of submitting the deceased’s personal details to obtain a death certificate.  Once, the funeral home has the death certificate, and the cremation has been authorized and notarized by the legal next of kin, the Registrar General will issue a cremation permit and the cremation can proceed.

As cremation is such a final disposition, it is imperative that the family and funeral home follows all legal requirements to ID the deceased, register the death, sign the legal paperwork and obtain the correct permits to cremate.

Understand cremation

Can the deceased be cremated without a death certificate?

No, the crematorium requires an original death certificate before the cremation can proceed.  As death certificates can sometimes be delayed, this can delay the time-frame for a cremation going ahead.

Who can authorize a cremation?

Only the legal next of kin of the deceased, legal executor or court-appointed administrator can authorize a cremation.  The legal next of kin is categorized in priority as:

  • Spouse
  • Adult children
  • Parents of the deceased

Generally, if there is more than one next of kin, for example, several siblings or children, all must agree to the cremation.

How soon after the death can a cremation take place?

As cremation is so final and eliminates any ability to further determine a cause of death (or DNA evidence), a coroner or medical examiner must authorize the cremation permit.  Most Provinces require a time-span of 48 hours after the death before a cremation can proceed.

What happens if the deceased had a medical implant?

If the deceased had a pacemaker, defibrillator, or other medical implants that could potentially interfere during the cremation process, these will need to be removed prior to the cremation going ahead. Some medical implants, such as pacemakers, can react and explode if subjected to high temperatures.  The funeral director will arrange the removal of any such devices. Do note that sometimes the funeral home will charge a fee for the removal of medical implants.

Is a casket required for a cremation?

No, there is no law that stipulates you must have a casket for a cremation.  Law requires a closed rigid container made of a suitable combustible material.  Most often a reinforced rigid cardboard container is used for cremation, sometimes reinforced with a plywood base.

If you wish to conduct a funeral service before the cremation, it is possible to rent a casket for the purpose of the service.  Cremation rental caskets are constructed to hold an inner cremation container liner that can be easily removed with the body inside. This inner container is then transferred to the crematorium for cremation without disturbing the body.

Can personal items, clothing and jewellery be cremated with the deceased?

Yes, the deceased is clothed for the cremation process. Clothing is combustible and will burn in the cremation.  Most crematoria will accept personal items to be placed in the cremation casket, as long as they are suitable and safe to be burned at a high temperature.

Do bear in mind that jewellery can melt as part of the cremation process.  Some families choose to remove jewellery during cremation and place items into the cremation urn afterwards.

Is it possible to witness the cremation?

Yes, if this is desired for religious or personal reasons, it is possible to witness the cremation. Some crematoria have installed special viewing ante-chambers to provide a comfortable viewing room from which to observe. In some cases, it is even possible to initiate the cremation process with a specially installed button.

How soon after cremation are the cremated remains ready for the family?

Generally, the ashes will be ready for collection, or mailing, within 2-3 days after the cremation has been conducted. 

How can I be sure that I am getting the remains of my loved one?

There are very specific identification steps taken from the moment your loved one is transferred into the care of a funeral home or crematorium. Usually, a metal ID tag with a unique code assigned to your loved one is attached to the body at the time of receiving the deceased.  This metal tag stays with the deceased through the stages of shelter, refrigeration, and cremation. It is also placed in the cremation urn with the cremated remains.

What if I am unsure about what to do with the ashes once I receive them?

There is no immediate need to decide what to do with the remains.  The immediate disposition has been handled, and you can take some time to reflect on how you wish to memorialize your loved one.

You can inter a cremation urn in a cremation niche, or even in a burial plot. You can request the opening of a family plot to add a cremation urn, but the cemetery most likely will charge you an open/close fee for this service.

You can keep the cremation urn at home, or even have the remains divided between a number of keepsake urns to share between family members.

Ash scattering has also become a more popular option. And there are various ways to choose to scatter cremated remains. There are designated Scattering Memorial Gardens, sea, mountain, or air dispersal companies, or you can conduct your own private scattering ceremony.

Finally, with the cremation trend booming, there are numerous cremation artifact options available. Cremation ashes can be blown into glass, cemented into garden ornaments, filled in bullet cartridges, painted onto canvas, or inked into Tattoos.

What happens if the deceased was overweight? Is cremation still an option?

If the deceased weighed no more than 250 pounds, most crematoria can cremate an overweight individual. However, if the deceased is considered obese, there are fees associated with a bariatric weight cremation.  This is because there are additional costs related to needing a stronger cremation container, extra lifting equipment, and requiring a cremation retort chamber that is wider.

Hopefully, we have answered some of your questions about cremation. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us or your local funeral home.