Cremation FAQ

1. How is a memorial service prior to cremation different from a traditional funeral service? 

A cremation service does not have to differ from traditional funeral service at all if the family does not want it to differ. The family can deviate as much, or as little, as they wish. A cremation service can include a visitation and funeral service at a funeral home or church where the deceased is in a cremation casket, with cremation and permanent memorialization to follow.

2. If cremation isn’t an end in itself, what happens to the remains?  

Under Kentucky Law, cremation within itself is final disposition. Both in terms of cremation and scattering, the process is irreversible. It is recommended that the family find a place to permanently memorialize the remains because it gives the family and friends a place to go back to visit and to commemorate that individual. There are several choices for permanent memorialization of cremated remains. The family can select from a variety of urns for permanent containment of the cremated remains. The urn may then be placed in a columbarium within a mausoleum, be buried in a regular lot or urn garden, or the cremated remains may be scattered in a scattering garden. Each of these choices allows for a permanent memorial plaque with the name of the person, their birth and death dates, and a message if desired. 

3. How is the cremation process itself accomplished? 

There are basically four steps to the complete process. The first step is to pre-heat the cremation chamber. Once the cremation chamber is heated, the encased body is placed into the chamber.  After the cremation occurs there is a period of time which is allowed for the unit to cool down. It takes approximately 3-1/2 to 4 hours to complete the cremation process including pre-heating, cremation and cool-down. An additional 45 minutes is needed for the cremated remains to be processed. 

4. Many people have a misconception of what remains are left upon the completion of cremation, could you describe it?

Many people believe that the cremated remains look like ashes from a fireplace, however this belief is untrue. The cremated remains do not have the chemical properties nor the physical appearance of ashes; they are bone fragments. During the cremation process the water from the body, which makes up about 75% of body mass, is evaporated. Fragments of bone are all that is left. Typically the amount of cremated remains can fit into a 220 cu. inch container.

5. How does the cost of cremation and memorialization compare with in-ground burial or mausoleum entombment?

The cost for cremation is similar to burial with the addition of the charge for the actual cremation process.  An inexpensive cremation/memorialization service is very similar to an inexpensive funeral service in terms of cost.  It depends upon the family's wishes and the selection of various services and merchandise.  The cost is truly according to the taste and traditions of the family.  

6. Is it advisable to arrange for cremation and memorialization in advance?

Pre-arranging is always advisable when possible. Making arrangements ahead of time allows people to better evaluate the options. It is a tremendous relief to those surviving, when making important decisions at a time when they are emotionally burdened. It is especially helpful to pre-arrange for cremation because of Kentucky State law. State law requires either a pre-authorization form to be signed by oneself along with one signature by the next-of-kin at the time of death, or signatures from all living next-of-kin of the deceased if a pre-approval has not been given. 

7. Since the crematory is at The Lexington Cemetery, is it necessary to consult with a funeral director? 

Regardless of how traditional or contemporary the cremation service is, The Lexington Cemetery, which is the regional crematory available to the community, requires any person who wishes to be cremated to be brought to the cemetery by a licensed funeral director. The funeral director is a trained professional who provides a very definite service for the family. He or she picks up the body at the place of death, provides proof of proper identification, completes all legal documentation prior to cremation and also assists the family members or friends at the funeral/memorial service and visitation/memorial gathering.

8. When and how should a person tell their family that they want to be cremated? 

One of the best ways to tell family members is to simply state that you are pre-arranging your funeral and that you have decided you would like to be cremated. Family members may or may not object. If family members do object, you will have to be prepared to either change your mind about being cremated or attempt to educate them. Typically people object because they lack information about cremation. If this is the case, it will be helpful for them to visit with your funeral director who will be able to provide educational materials to your family members. Family members may still object to your being cremated, but will probably be more likely to discuss the subject more openly.

9. For traditional ground burial or mausoleum entombment. A casket is necessary. Is a casket necessary for cremation?

A casket in the traditional sense is not required; however, a cremation container is necessary. Cremation containers are typically made of veneers. They range in price from cardboard to veneers to hardwood.  The cremation container must be a combustible material and therefore steel is not an option in this area. Many families choose to have visitation (public or private) and funeral services prior to the actual cremation; therefore, Milward offers many cremation casket choices designed specifically for cremation. These special caskets are attractive, yet they usually do not have the same features found on caskets designed for ground burial or to be placed in a mausoleum.