Cremation Questions & Answers

cremation burial

Which is less expensive, burial or cremation?

What does such a cremation cost at A Sacred Moment?

What if we want a viewing of the deceased before the cremation?

Does the body need to be embalmed for cremation or viewing?

How long does the whole cremation process take?

Is a casket required for cremation?

Can a person be cremated in a shroud?

Is it possible to witness the placement of the body in the chamber?

What if we want to do spiritual practice/prayers near the person as the cremation is happening? Is this possible?

How is cremation handled when a family has a home funeral vigil?

Is it guaranteed that my loved one is cremated separately and that the ashes I receive back are actually that person?

What kind of urn holds the ashes? Can I transfer them to another urn?

What do most people do with the cremated ashes of a loved one?

Is there a prescribed way to scatter cremated ashes?

Where can you scatter ashes on land?

What should I know about water scattering?

I’ve heard that I can scatter ashes off of a Washington ferry. How can that be arranged?

Can I take an urn/ashes with me on an airplane?

Can my urn/ashes be shipped by mail?

When someone is cremated, how do families approach funeral/memorial services/life celebrations? Is the body present?

What exactly is cremation?

What happens to gold in teeth during cremation?

What happens to prosthetic devices, such as replacement knee and hip joints following cremation?

Why does a cremation authorization require notification of a pacemaker?

How do I arrange a cremation?

Which is less expensive, burial or cremation?

Cremation is by far the less expensive option. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the median cost of a funeral with cremation is $6,078. That’s $1,103 (15.3%) less expensive than the median cost of a funeral with a burial. And some sources put the average cost of a cremation even lower, at $2,000-$4,000.

What does such a cremation cost at A Sacred Moment?

You will find, compared to the national median cost of a funeral with cremation, A Sacred Moment is easily under a quarter of the national average. Our affordable fee includes transportation of the body from the place of death to our care facility, shelter of the body for up to 14 days, a cremation container for the body, arrangement meeting with family, completion and filing of death certificate, the cremation itself, and a standard-sized, heavy-duty plastic temporary container.

What if we want a viewing of the deceased before the cremation?

Viewings usually take place in the chapel at our care facility, a former private home in Kent. You can choose a one-hour private family viewing for up to 10 people, or a four-hour viewing for up to 50, which allows friends and community to attend. Viewings also can occur in houses of worship or rented facilities if there’s going to be a service before cremation. We recommend a home funeral if that is possible, so that the viewing can take place in the comfort of your own home, in familiar surroundings. (See Home Funeral).

Does the body need to be embalmed for cremation or viewing?

We normally do not recommend embalming, especially if a person is to be cremated. Most other funeral homes will recommend or even insist that a body be embalmed before it can be viewed publicly. We assess each individual case and recommend embalming if we feel it is necessary. This is usually for cases when relatives will not arrive for several days or longer. Embalming is also best when the death has been violent or traumatic, when the body needs repair. Viewing without such restoration could be stressful.

How long does the whole cremation process take?

Typically, our cremation process can take up to ten business days from start to finish. Circumstances surrounding each cremation are unique, so be sure to ask us about your particular situation if timing is an issue. Families who wish to have their loved one cremated right away can choose to have an expedited cremation at an additional cost. Expedited means that we are stopping our normal procedures and schedule, rush ordering the death certificate filing and paperwork, and putting your loved one’s cremation before others.

Is a casket required for cremation?

Cremation requires that a body be sheltered in a combustible container, usually made of cardboard or fiberboard, before being placed in the cremation chamber (also called retort). Wooden and other non-metal caskets, such as our biodegradable willow, bamboo, and paper caskets, can also be cremated. The terms “cremation casket,” “cremation container,” and “alternative container” are interchangeable, referring to any container suitable for the cremation process. Having a container also allows you to place special mementos, photos, and flowers with your loved one’s body.

Can a person be cremated in a shroud?

Yes. A body wrapped in a shroud is a wonderful choice for a cremation. The cardboard cremation container is still needed, though, to provide rigid support of the body as it enters the cremation chamber, and to provide space for any mementos and flowers.

Is it possible to witness the placement of the body in the cremation chamber?

Yes, absolutely. A witnessed placement needs to be scheduled ahead of time, before or during the arrangement meeting. Typically it would take place in the morning. There is a room with a glass window that overlooks the door to the cremation chamber (also called retort). Families can gather in the room to watch the body being placed in the chamber. Or they can be more directly involved by being present with the funeral staff, gathering near the body as it enters the chamber, and even pushing the ignite button to begin the cremation. Since the entire cremation takes up to four hours, a witnessed placement ends after the body is inside the chamber. Sometimes families remain in the observation room to do prayers and ceremony for a time afterward.

What if we want to do spiritual practice/prayers near the person as the cremation is happening? Is this possible?

Yes, this is very possible. In fact, we specialize in helping a person, family, or community create the best situation possible for their spiritual needs. There is almost always time and space for spiritual practice at the beginning of the cremation. The witnessing room with a table and chairs is available, as well as the larger chapel seating up to 50. If remaining present during the cremation is important, we can make those accommodations for an additional fee.

How is cremation handled when a family has a home funeral vigil?

We can transport the deceased from the home to the crematory when the vigil is complete. Typically, families who have helped care for their own dead also want to complete that journey by accompanying the deceased to the crematory, and participating in a witnessed placement. If this is not chosen, the deceased will remain sheltered in our care facility until his/her time comes to be cremated.

Is it guaranteed that my loved one is cremated separately and that the ashes I receive back are actually that person?

We guarantee that all our cremations are performed individually. We abide by this practice out of respect; however, it is also the law in all fifty states. Each body initially receives a numbered stainless steel medallion that remains with that person throughout the sheltering and cremation. The identifying medallion remains with the ashes, as well. Both are placed inside a heavy-duty plastic bag inside the urn that is returned to the family.

What kind of urn holds the ashes? Can I transfer them to another urn?

You will receive the ashes in a sturdy, standard-sized black plastic urn. It will be labeled with the name of your loved one and the dates of his/her life on the front. Because the ashes are in an inner plastic bag, they can easily be transferred to another urn of your choice. We are happy to complete that transfer for you, or you can do it yourself.

What do most people do with the cremated ashes of a loved one?

Many families keep a loved one’s ashes close at home in an urn of their choice, or “set them free” at a beloved spot, nearly always in nature. (We have heard many inspiring stories from people about the journey of their loved one’s ashes.) Some families already have cemetery plots or niches in a columbarium for their urn. We recommend that a little time should pass before scattering, in case there’s a change of heart and a family decides they want to inter the ashes, in order to have a place to visit.

Is there a prescribed way to scatter cremated ashes?

Yes. Regardless of where cremated ashes are scattered, there is a simple protocol to follow: Only scatter the ashes. Do not drop or throw the urn into a body of water, unless it is made of a certified biodegradable material.  Remove the metal identification medallion from inside the urn and the identification label from the outside. Keep or dispose of the metal medallion, plastic bag, bag closure, label and urn separately.

Where can you scatter ashes on land?

What should I know about water scattering?

Cremated ashes may be scattered on all public navigable waterways in the state of Washington. These include Puget Sound, rivers, streams, lakes, and the Pacific Ocean within a three-mile limit.  No reporting is required.

I’ve heard that I can scatter ashes off of a Washington State ferry. How can that be arranged?

Advance notice and booking 3-5 business days prior to a planned date is required for scattering cremated remains from Washington State Ferry vessels. Here are some other guidelines:

Can I take an urn/ashes with me on an airplane?

Yes. We supply a written letter stating that A Sacred Moment handled the deceased’s arrangements/ cremation, and that a family member is bringing those cremated ashes on the plane. The letter states which airline, flight number, destination, and date you will be flying. This letter can be shown to airport staff when you go through security. We also provide a photocopy of the Death Certificate and Burial Transit Permit (as needed). Cremated ashes should never be placed in a suitcase and checked with luggage. You do not want to take a chance of lost luggage with the airline.

Can my urn/ashes be shipped by mail?

Yes. We ship via USPS Registered Mail nationally and internationally.

Please see Shipping Services.

When someone is cremated, how do families approach funeral/memorial services/life celebrations? Is the body present?

A funeral means that the body is still present during the ceremony. The body also can be present at a service before a cremation. There is no set way to do things.

The body is already present at home during a home funeral vigil, so a ceremony often takes place there before transporting the body to be cremated.

Memorial services and life celebrations follow most cremations, and can take place whenever it feels right to do so. If your family wishes the urn to be present at the ceremony, you can either expedite the cremation or schedule the service far enough out to insure the urn has returned to our office. Memorial services and life celebrations can take place in any venue--home, a place of worship, or out in nature.

What exactly is cremation?

A deceased person’s body is sheltered in a combustible casket/container. The cremation process begins with the placement of the container in the retort (cremation chamber) where it is subjected to intense heat and flame reaching 1400-1800 degrees F. After 2-3 hours, all substances are consumed except bone fragments and metals. Any personal possessions, such as jewelry, will be consumed by the heat of the flames.

Following a cooling period, the cremated remains are removed from the chamber. At this point, the skeletal remains often contain recognizable bone fragments. Unless otherwise specified, the bone fragments are pulverized, and mixed with the rest of the cremains. The final cremains are a fine sand-like consistency and vary from dark to light gray or tan in color. They are placed in a designated urn or container. If the cremains do not fit in one urn, two are used.

What happens to gold in teeth during cremation?

Dental gold is non-recoverable following cremation. Gold melts at the high temperatures required by cremation; therefore, dental gold is non-recoverable in a solid form.

What happens to prosthetic devices, such as replacement knee and hip joints following cremation?

Prosthetic devices are commonly made of titanium, which has a higher melting point than the heat of cremation flames. Therefore, replacement knees, hips or other surgically implanted devices will remain intact following cremation. Unless requested by the family to be returned following cremation, these devises are recycled.

Why does a cremation authorization require notification of a pacemaker?

Pacemakers rely on batteries to function. Batteries at high cremation temperatures will combust inside the cremation chamber, damaging the retort. Pacemakers, or any surgically implanted device using a battery, are removed prior to cremation.

How do I arrange a cremation?

See Meeting with us.