People in American society choose cremation as a mode of final disposition for a variety of reasons. These may include but are not limited to: philosophical or religious beliefs, environmental considerations, monetary reasons (although cremation is often not always the least costly option), family customs or traditions, or just personal preference.
Whatever one’s reasons are, we offer a variety a cremation options; from a very basic direct cremation without a memorial or funeral service to a traditional funeral with an open casket viewing, followed by cremation.
If cremation is a possible option for you or a family member, please contact one of our directors for more information and advisement. Our crematory is located on our premises and we are open and willing to show the public our facility upon request. We do however, recommend an appointment before doing so. Please call 262-552-9000 for further information.
Draeger-Langendorf Onsite Crematory
* Cremation is final disposition which right is designated to the legal next of kin. If a deceased person is not married at the time of death all children of legal age (18) have equal rights to the deceased’s final disposition. If there are not children, the process moves to parents, siblings and the appropriate progression to follow.
* There are legal forms that can be signed before death occurs that designates an authorized person to have all legal rights to final disposition regardless of family relationship. Please contact our office for further information.
AN INFORMATION GUIDE TO CREMATION
(information taken from WIKIPEDIA.COM)
Cremation is the process of reducing human remains to basic chemical compounds in the form of gases and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high temperatures and vaporization. Contrary to popular belief, the cremated remains are not ashes in the usual sense, but rather dried bone fragments that have been pulverized in a device called an electric cremated remains processor. This leaves the bone in a fine sand like texture and color, able to be scattered without any foreign matter.
Cremation may serve as a funeral or post funeral rite that is an alternative to the interment of an intact body in a casket. Cremated remains, which are not a health risk, may be buried or immured in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be legally retained by relatives or dispersed in a variety of ways and locations.
In many countries cremation is usually done in a crematory but others may prefer different methods. An example is the common practice of open-air cremation in India.
The cremation occurs in a crematory, consisting of one or more cremator furnaces or cremation retorts for the ashes. A cremator is an industrial furnace capable of generating temperatures of 870 to 980°C (1600 to 1800°F) to ensure disintegration of the corpse. A crematorium may be part of chapel or a funeral home, or part of an independent facility or a service offered by a cemetery.
Modern cremator fuels include natural gas and propane. However, coal and coke were used until the early 1960s. Modern cremators have adjustable control systems that monitor the furnace during cremation.
A cremation furnace is not designed to cremate more than one body at a time, something that is illegal in many countries, including the U.S. Exceptions are sometimes made in extreme cases, such as of a deceased mother and her still-born child or still-born twins.
The chamber where the body is placed is called the retort. It is lined with refractory bricks that resist the heat. The bricks are typically replaced every five years due to thermal fatigue.
Modern cremators are computer-controlled to ensure legal and safe use; e.g., the door cannot be opened until the cremator has reached operating temperature. The casket or cardboard container is inserted (charged) into the retort as quickly as possible to avoid heat loss through the top-opening door. The container may be on a charger (motorized trolley) that can quickly insert the container or casket.
In the U.S., a body ready to be cremated must be placed in a container for cremation, which can be a simple corrugated cardboard box or a wooden casket. Most casket manufacturers provide a line of caskets specially built for cremation.
The box containing the body is placed in the retort and incinerated at a temperature of 760° to 1150°C (1400° to 2100°F). During the cremation process, a large part of the body (especially the organs) and other soft tissue are vaporized and oxidized due to the heat, and the gases are discharged through the exhaust system. The entire process usually takes about two hours.
All that remains after cremation are dry bone fragments (mostly calcium phosphates and minor minerals). Their color is usually light grey. They represent very roughly 3.5% of the body’s original mass (2.5% in children). Because the weight of dry bone fragments is so closely connected to skeletal mass, their weight varies greatly from person to person, although it is more closely connected with the person’s height and sex than with their simple weight. The mean weight of adult cremated remains in a Florida, U.S. sample was 5.3 lb (approx. 2.4 kg) for adults (range 2 to 8 lb or 0.91 to 3.6 kg). This was found to be distributed bimodally according to sex, with the mean being 6 pounds (2.7 kg) for men (range 4 to 8 lb or 1.8 to 3.6 kg) and 4 pounds (1.8 kg) for women (range 2 to 6 lb or 0.91 to 2.7 kg). In this sample, generally all adult cremated remains over 6 pounds (2.7 kg) were from males, and those under 4 pounds (1.8 kg) were from females.
Jewelry, such as wristwatches and rings, are ordinarily removed and returned to the family. The only nonnatural item required to be removed is a pacemaker, because it could explode and damage the cremator. Also the mercury contained in a pacemaker’s batteries poses an unacceptable risk of air pollution. In the United Kingdom, and possibly other countries, the funeral home director or operator is required to remove pacemakers prior to delivering the body to the crematorium, and sign a declaration stating that any pacemaker has been removed.
After the incineration is completed, the bone fragments are swept out of the retort and the operator uses a pulverizer called a cremulator to process them into what are known as cremated remains, which exhibit the appearance of grains of sand (note that this varies with the efficiency of the cremulator used, and recognizable chips of very dry bone may be seen in some final product cremated remains, depending on origin and facility). Cremulators usually use some kind of rotating or grinding mechanism to powder the bones, such as the heavy metal balls on older models. This is one of the reasons cremated remains are called ashes, although a technical term sometimes used is “cremains”, a portmanteau of “cremated” and “remains”. (The Cremation Association of North America prefers the word “cremains” to not be used for referring to “human cremated remains.” “Cremains” has no real connection with the deceased whereas a loved one’s “cremated remains” has a human connection.)
The human cremated remains are placed in a container, which can be anything from a simple cardboard box to a decorative urn. An unavoidable consequence of cremation is that a tiny residue of bodily remains is left in the chamber after cremation and mixes with subsequent cremations.
Cremation allows for very economical use of cemetery space. Apart from religious reasons (discussed below), some people find they prefer cremation for personal reasons. For some people, it is because they are not attracted to traditional burial. The thought of a long, slow decomposition process is unappealing to some; many people find that they prefer cremation because it disposes of the body immediately. Other people view cremation as a way of simplifying their funeral process. These people view a traditional burial as an unneeded complication of their funeral process, and thus choose cremation to make their services as simple as possible.
The cost factor tends to make cremation attractive. Generally speaking, cremation is cheaper than traditional burial services, especially if direct cremation is chosen, in which the body is cremated as soon as legally possible without any sort of services. However, there is wide variation in the cost of cremation services, having mainly to do with the amount of services purchased by the deceased or the family. A cremation can take place after a full traditional funeral service, which adds cost. The type of container used to hold the cremated remains used also influences cost.
Cremated remains can be scattered or buried. Cremation plots or columbarium niches are usually cheaper than a traditional burial plot or mausoleum crypt, and require less space. Some religions, such as Roman Catholicism, require the burial or entombment of cremated remains, but burial of cremated remains may often be accomplished in the burial plot of another person, such as a family member, without any additional cost. It is also very common to scatter the remains in a place which was liked by the deceased such as the sea, a river, a beach or a park, following their last will. This is generally forbidden in public places and is restricted by law.
To some, cremation might be preferable for environmental reasons. Burial is a known source of certain environmental contaminants, with the coffin itself being the major contaminant. Another concern is contamination from radioisotopes that have entered the body before death or burial, although cremation does not seem to be advantageous. For example, one possible source of isotopes is radiation therapy, although no accumulation of radiation occurs in the most common type of radiation therapy involving high energy photons. However, cremation has no effect on radioisotopes other than to return them to the environment more rapidly (beginning with some spread into the air). Thus, cremation is of no overall help with pollution from this source. Yet another environmental concern, of sorts, is that traditional burial takes up a great deal of space. In a traditional burial, the body is buried in a casket made from a variety of materials. In America, the casket is often placed inside a concrete vault or liner before burial in the ground. While individually this may not take much room, combined with other burials, it can over time cause serious space concerns. Many cemeteries, particularly in Japan and Europe as well as those in larger cities, have run out, or are starting to run out, of permanent space. In Tokyo, for example, traditional burial plots are extremely scarce and expensive, and in London, a space crisis led Harriet Harman to propose reopening old graves for “double-decker” burials.
However, there is a growing body of research that indicates cremation has a significant impact on the environment as well: The major emissions from crematories are nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, hydrofluoric acid (HF), hydrochloric acid (HCl), NMVOCs, and other heavy metals, in addition to persistent organic pollutants (POP). According to the United Nations Environment Programme report on POP Emission Inventory Guidebook, emissions from crematoria contribute 0.2% of the global emission of dioxins and furans.