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Thinking about and planning for your final needs and resting place is a difficult decision. Some people are torn between the options of going with a traditional burial or electing for cremation. In recent years with rising funeral costs and a slow economy, more and more people have been electing to go with cremation. In 2011, approximately 41% of Americans chose cremation, up from around 15% in 1981. It has been predicted that in the next 3-4 years, that number will rise to over 50%. If you are considering cremation yourself, you will want to read the information below about the costs and process to help you make your decision.

The Process of Cremation

Besides the request for a cremation permit that has to be filled out, the only other necessary thing to do is to remove metal items and medical devices from the body before the process begins. Some items, such as surgically implanted pins or screws, cannot be removed, but others such as pacemakers and radioactive medical devices must be removed to avoid them combusting or emitting hazardous rays during the medical process.

The entire cremation process only takes about 3 hours, but most state laws require a waiting period of several days after death before cremation can begin. This waiting period is to ensure that all the paperwork pertaining to the death is filled out properly, and that there will be no further need for an autopsy or any other examination of the body inquiring into the circumstances around the individual’s death. Cremation obviously destroys any sort of evidence that law enforcement officials might be interested in.

Once properly prepared, the body is placed into a casket or a wooden or cardboard container, which is then placed into a cremation chamber. The chamber is heated to a temperature between 1,600 and 1,800 degree Fahrenheit.

The heating process lasts for about two and a half hours. The body’s matter either evaporates or is consumed by the heat. Once the heating process is finished, remaining bone fragments are removed and any metal that was on the body is removed with a magnet. The bone fragments are ground into a fine powder-like substance. All of the remains are placed into a container of the family’s choosing for them to dispose of as they wish.

If the remains are not claimed, most states allow the crematory to dispose of the remains after a certain period of time passes. The waiting time varies by state.

How Much Does Cremation Cost?

The cost of cremation averages between $1,500 and $4,500. A traditional burial, in comparison, costs an average over $7,000. Cremation services can be provided by a funeral home, or to save some costs, directly through a crematory. There are typically a few additional costs besides the actual cremation. Transporting the body to the crematory, storing the body before cremation, a casket or container, removing any medical devices, and fees for processing the necessary paperwork will all add into the final cost.

There may be some extra costs based on the family’s wishes. Some prefer to scatter the remains of a loved one, while other prefer to keep the ashes in a cemetery, which will costs hundreds of dollars or even a few thousand dollars depending on the arrangements. Obviously any kind of memorial service the family wishes to have will add into the final costs.

Despite these added costs, cremation services are drastically cheaper than the traditional burial route, saving on things like fancy caskets, embalming, clothing for the deceased, a hearse, and tombstones.

Just like a traditional burial service, these cremation costs can be paid for with a burial insurance policy. If cremation is the route you want go, we recommend seeking out a funeral home that offers cremation to discuss the costs. This will help you to determine how much burial insurance coverage you need before you start shopping around for a policy.