Get the Facts about Cremation Services: Seven Common Questions and Answers

Cremation is rapidly becoming the new norm for end-of-life practices in America.

Currently, cremation accounts for 50 percent of all funerals in this country. By 2035, that number is expected to approach 80 percent. If you’re considering cremation for yourself or a loved one, you most likely have some questions. In this article, we’ll answer seven of the most frequently asked questions about this increasingly popular end-of-life disposition method.

  1. What are the advantages of cremation? Affordability is one big benefit. With the cost of traditional funerals with burial climbing sharply over the past two decades, cremation offers a more reasonably priced alternative. Cremation also offers greater flexibility. Without the need to rush to burial, a memorial service can be arranged at a time and place that’s convenient for everyone who plans to attend. The practice of cremation has also become more culturally acceptable in the wake of waning reliance on religious traditions. Even among minorities, who have traditionally been less accepting, cremation is growing. Over the past decade, cremation rates in the African American population have increased from just five percent to more than 23 percent today.
  2. What does the cremation entail? Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments (known as ashes) using high heat and flame. The deceased is placed in a cremation chamber in a combustible container. All organic matter is consumed by heat and evaporation within approximately two hours.
  3. What happens to the bones during the cremation process? Most of the body’s organic matter is vaporized quickly by the high heat in the cremation chamber. However, the bones, which are made of carbonates and calcium phosphates, do not burn as easily. As a result, many of the bone fragments remain after the cremation is completed. They are placed into a cremulator, which is a machine that grinds them down into a coarse sand-like substance.
  4. How much ash does a cremated body make? Many people are surprised by the amount and weight of the ashes. The average weight for a woman is five pounds, while a man averages seven pounds. Because most of the organic matter vaporizes, the amount of ash is primarily determined by the bone structure of the person. A tall, large-boned person’s cremated remains will weigh more than that of a person of small stature.
  5. Is embalming required with cremation? The simple answer to this question is no. However, embalming may be required by law if you would like to have the body present for a viewing by friends and family prior to the time the cremation occurs.
  6. What options do I have for my loved one’s cremated remains? This is one of the most frequently asked questions and there are a multitude of answers to it. Options range from the traditional to the creative to those that are avant-garde. You can choose to create a single memorial or divide up the ashes into multiple memorials that can be given to each family member. Some of the more popular memorial methods include scattering ashes at a special place, burying the ashes, having them infused into a glass decorative piece or an item of jewelry, or placing the ashes in an urn and keeping them in the home. Take your time and choose something that’s fitting for your loved one and that brings your family peace.
  7. Can there still be a service with friends and family in attendance? There can definitely be a service with cremation and it’s actually very common. As with a burial, you can choose to have a funeral with the body present for viewing prior to the cremation taking place. Or, you can elect to have a memorial service or celebration of life after the cremation is performed, with or without the ashes present. Services for people who are cremated are commonly held at a funeral home, church, outdoors, or at a location that was particularly meaningful to the deceased.

We realize that making these arrangements is difficult while you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s our goal to make the task a bit easier. If you have additional questions or need further guidance, please contact our compassionate professionals for assistance.

About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services:
Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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