Cremation Choices

The number of people choosing cremation has increased significantly in the past few years, yet cremation carries a long tradition and remains largely unchanged.

Cremation simply expedites the process of reducing a body to bone fragments through application of intense heat.

What is done before or after the cremation is up to the survivors, or up to you. You can relieve the burden of these decisions by pre-planning your arrangements in advance of need so that your wishes will be honored.

Contrary to what some people believe, Cremation does not limit choices, but, in fact, increases one’s options. It is a process which is performed in a respectful and dignified manner and can be memorialized in many ways.

Cremation and Funerals

Choosing cremation neither eliminates nor does it require a funeral service. Traditional or contemporary services are often planned before or after the cremation process. A funeral service followed by cremation may be exactly the same as a funeral service followed by ground burial. They can be elaborate or simple and traditional or nontraditional. Arrangements and ceremonies tend to be as individual as the persons for whom and by whom they are made.They may be personalized specifically to reflect the life of the deceased, and thus have a special meaning. Bay Area Cremation Society is able to assist in any and all of your Funeral Service needs. To obtain more information on funeral services click here or call 1-800-916-4888.

The Complete Cremation Service will be just like a complete funeral service except cremation will follow instead of the casketed burial. This can be accommodated by the use of a cremation casket (casket that is designed to be cremated) or the use of a rental casket. Following the viewing, service or ceremony, and eventual cremation, the cremated remains can be buried, properly scattered, or returned to the family for safe keeping. Urns are used to hold the cremated remains. Urns can be constructed out of basic materials like cardboard or plastic, or constructed out of more protective materials like basic and semi-precious metals, ceramics, and woods.

The Immediate Cremation Service can be arranged as an immediate disposition of the body, but is most times followed by a memorial service at the church, funeral home or other location. A memorial service is one where the body is not present. We recommend that if you select an immediate cremation that you are allowed a time, if possible, to privately view the body as a family. If the viewing can be done in a matter of a few hours after the death then embalming will not be necessary. If there is to be a long delay (more than 8-12 hours) then embalming would be encouraged. If the viewing could not be done within 48 hours then embalming may be required. Viewing of the deceased is a very important step in acknowledging that the death has occurred. Having some type of service or ceremony is also a key ingredient to a healthy recovery of a loss due to a death.

A Direct Cremation refers to a cremation being provided, while limiting funeral services to the removal and transportation of the deceased into our care.

Importance of Memorialization

Memorialization provides a permanent, secure place for cremated remains to be placed, and for family members and descendants to honor the lives of the deceased.

Cremation allows families many choices for memorializing a loved one. Some families choose to keep the cremated remains with them at home, or to scatter the remains over land or water. 

Memorialization Options for Cremation

Outdoor Niches – The cremated remains of your loved ones may be held in an above-ground columbarium niche chosen by your family.

Scattering – Your loved one’s remains may be scattered freely within a dedicated, natural environment. There are also certain services which offer scattering among the sea or the stars.

Traditional Burial – In ground burial on a family plot – Urns may be buried at the head or foot of a grave site.

Personalized Memorialization – Inscribe your family member’s name and a special saying on a tree plaque, park bench or other special memorial. We also have custom, unique urns and keepsakes, perfect for displaying inside your home. For an overview of these items, please contact us directly and we will help you with your needs.

Scattering Options

In addition to the more traditional avenues of cremation burial or preservation in a columbarium, the scattering of cremated remains is a meaningful and time-honored means of memorializing a loved one after cremation. There are several methods for the release of cremated remains that can be personalized in any number of ways. Much of the decision depends on the wishes of the deceased and how those left behind want to honor that person’s memory. Consider your choices carefully; once the cremated remains are scattered they are gone forever, unless you keep a portion of the remains for remembrance or as part of a keepsake.

How to Scatter Cremated Remains

Cremated remains may be scattered personally or through a service depending on the method of dispersal. If you choose to perform your own cremated remains scattering, it is best to have one person at a time control the release from the container while the others observe. A group may take turns doing a partial scattering one at a time, or they might release the cremated remains simultaneously from smaller containers each containing a portion of the cremated remains.

However the scattering takes place, it is important to cast the cremated remains downwind to keep the remains from blowing onto your party. Cremation cremated remains are not in any way a health risk, but some may find the contact disturbing or disrespectful. The cremated remains will consist of dense, sand-like matter and a few bone fragments that will likely fall to the ground quickly, but some will remain airborne in the form of a whitish-gray cloud upon dispersal.

There are a variety of creative options for how and where the cremated remains are scattered. Often, cremated remains are dispersed at a place that had personal or philosophical significance to the deceased. It can be a favorite destination such as a beach, forest or meadow; or someplace that reflects the person’s everyday life such as a park, golf course or even their own home. Keep in mind when choosing a location that there are laws governing the scattering of cremation remains. These laws vary from state to state and will affect how and where the cremated remains can be scattered, and whether you will need a permit to do so.

Common Dispersal Methods

Scattering by Air – A very symbolic gesture of freedom and release, scattering cremated remains into the air is a versatile method used to disperse remains on private and public lands. After the scattering, the cremated remains can be ceremonially raked into the ground or left alone for the earth to claim.

Scattering by Trench – After a shallow trench or grove is dug into the soil, the cremated remains are ceremonially poured in and then covered with soil. The trench can simply be a hole, or shaped into a symbol or to spell out a word. Some people scatter cremated remains using the trench technique on a beach and time it so the tide comes, breaks down the uncovered trench, and washes the cremated remains out to sea.

Scattering by Burial – Similar to the trench method but more akin to a traditional cremation burial, except the cremated remains are buried in a location other than a cemetery. The cremated remains can simply be poured into the hole or placed in a biodegradable urn for burial.

Scattering by Water – The remains are scattered onto a body of water from the shore, a dock or a boat. Loved ones may place flowers, petals or floating candles into the water alongside the remains as a tribute. These will float on top of the water while the cremated remains sink below the surface.

Some Unique Options

Grief Journey – Cremation cremated remains don’t have to be scattered all in one place. If you divide the remains into several small containers you can scatter the cremated remains wherever you see fit. Plan a vacation to visit places of significance, or make a spiritual pilgrimage. Another option is to keep the cremated remains in an urn and remove a tablespoon or two for scattering whenever you travel or move to a new place.

Ascension Release – Instead of being dispersed from the ground, another option is to have the cremated remains scattered from the sky. This is usually done by professionals, who cast the cremated remains from a private plane over sea or land. Other options include - but are not limited to - hang gliders, hot air balloons and weather balloons. Some will allow you to do the scattering yourself or will coordinate with your ceremony to fly over and scatter the cremated remains so that the dispersal can be seen from the ground.

Memorial Crafting – A portion of the remains can be preserved inside a keepsake…or crafted into one. For example, a small amount of cremated remains can be handcrafted into glass-blown tokens, jewelry or glass art and inscribed with a memorial message. Cremation cremated remains can also be mixed into charcoal, paint and tattoo ink, or used in a more involved process to create objects such as fireworks or even diamonds. Many memorial crafts such as these are created by artists all over the country, so take the time to explore what possibilities are available to you.