Cemetery Administrator: Terry Govier
St. Mary's Cemetery
Cemetery Administrator: Rolan Vachon
Plot Purchases Only: Terry Govier
Cremation is an alternative to the burial process and it may be chosen because of religious beliefs, the desire to preserve burial space, or it was requested by the person who died. Cremation can also be a less expensive option in comparison to a burial when all things are considered. The remains are placed in a container or casket that is combustible and placed in a special furnace called a retort or a crematory where through intense heat the remains are reduced to bone fragments that are then refined to resemble coarse sand. The cremated remains of an average adult body will weigh about 7-8 pounds. Cremation is not an alternative to a funeral, but rather an alternative to burial or other forms of disposition.
Cremated remains can be scattered or buried, or they may be kept with the family in a decorative urn. There are many new and different ways to dispose of ashes today, cremated remains have been placed in an artificial coral reef in the ocean, they also have been launched into space or sent up in helium balloons, or they can be spun into glass pieces of art. Ashes may also be split up into separate portions; giving options to scatter portions, hold on to portions (maybe in a piece of jewellery), and/or place a portion in a cemetery for others to visit. Some religions welcome cremation while others forbid it. The Catholic Church had banned cremation up until 1963, and burial remains the preferred form of disposition today. In other Christian denominations cremation was historically discouraged but nowadays it is more widely accepted. In eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism cremation is mandated, while in Islam it is strictly forbidden. Orthodox Jews also forbid cremation; other sects of Judaism support cremation, but burial remains the preferred option.
If cremation is chosen a viewing, visitation and funeral service can still take place. Often times a family will choose to use our rental casket for the services before cremation takes place, to allow for a viewing, or for a traditional service to take place. After the funeral service is complete the liner of the rental casket is used for the cremation container and the interior is changed for the next use. The disposition of the ashes will take place at a later date, following cremation, which may take up to three days. The ashes may be held on to by the family indefinitely before disposition takes place; however after one year some funeral homes may bury the ashes in a known plot in a cemetery. A refundable charge of three hundred fifty dollars maybe collected at the time of death to cover the cost of interring the ashes. At our funeral home we will keep your loved one’s ashes safe until you are ready for the final disposition without charge or deposit.
Why people choose cremation
In the United States, in 1972, only five percent chose cremation. That number had quintupled by 1999, with over 25% choosing cremation. The Cremation Association of North America predicts that by 2010, that figure will rise to 36%. In Canada, the rate is already over 42%; in Great Britain, 71%; and over 98% in Japan.
Here are some other reasons you might choose cremation:
Cremation is traditional in your family, religious group, or geographical area
You prefer the body to be returned quickly to the elements
You believe cremation is more environmentally responsible
You want to keep the cemetery costs down
You might still choose a casket and/or a viewing, and/or decide to have the cremated remains buried in the ground or placed in a columbarium. These choices can bring your costs up to those of a traditional funeral.
Decisions you must make if you choose cremation:
Would you like a private or public viewing? Do any friends or family want to see the person one last time to say goodbye?
Will cremation take place immediately or after a funeral service, visitation, or Mass?
What type of container to use to go to the crematorium, wood or cardboard, or casket?
What type of urn or container to use for the ashes?
What to do with the cremated remains?
If you are distributing the remains:
Some jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the scattering of remains; others require a permit. Ask your funeral director.
Also, ask if there are any firms in your area that specialize in unique ways of distributing the remains, such as a plane to spread them over an unpopulated area, or a boat to scatter them in water.
Think of places that were especially loved by the deceased, close to home or far away. You can walk in the woods, by a favourite lake, or on the old family farm.
Be sure to ask permission if you want to use private property.
What about using the remains to create new life, by planting a tree? Some survivors choose to mix the remains with the soil in flower beds and rose gardens at home. Every time the roses bloom, you will be reminded of your loved one
If you decide to have an alternate place to spread the ashes, consider how you or any other family member will feel, if someday the area is developed, or the property changes hands.
A memorial service is a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the community and religious affiliations.
Some families prefer public visitations followed by a private or graveside service with a memorial service later at the church or funeral home. Because the body is not present at the memorial, disposition may take place either before or after the service. You can hold a memorial service instead of a funeral, or in addition to it. For instance, you might have a funeral in the town where the person lived and died, and a memorial service later in the town where he/she grew up.
A “viewing” means to have an open casket. A “visitation” is when the body is laid out in the casket (which may be open or closed) before the service so that mourners may come to “visit.” A visitation offers a chance for people to “pay their final respects” to the deceased. A time for the public to come “visit” also offers the community a chance to show their support to the family.
Just as important, the visitation can be a time for mourners to meet and console each other in a more informal setting than at the funeral. You can schedule a visitation for as little as half an hour on the day of the service, or it can last for several days before the service. The visitation can be restricted to just close friends and family, or be open to the public. You can even have a combination of private and public hours. When deciding on the length of visitation consider; the age of the deceased, how well they and their family are known in the community, and how big the family is.
Is there a special ceremony? As part of the visitation, you can arrange a formal ceremony, or an informal ceremony. You may wish for a Vigil service the evening before a Mass, or a Legion service if the deceased is a veteran, or a special club service (Masonic, Lion’s, Orange Lodge, ect.)
The term “wake” is sometimes used to describe the reception after the funeral or memorial service. Traditionally, a wake means the friends and family keeping watch by the body before it is safely buried, especially through the night. (Hence the term “wake”). In some families, there was much drinking, feasting and storytelling during the wake. Even today, an informal storytelling session can be a wonderful way to remember the person and can be planned as part of the service.
The stories don’t all have to be solemn, nor do they all have to show the person as a saint. We often love people as much for their flaws as for their strengths. Remember, too, that laughter is as much a sign of strong emotion as tears or anger. And if the person had a good sense of humour, there are bound to be some funny stories. This sharing can be a rich and powerful experience. You might even want to record this event to play it again later.
What is Cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service.
Is a casket needed for Cremation?
No, a casket is not required, most crematoriums require an alternative container constructed of wood or cardboard, however, in some areas no container is required. The crematorium we use requires a ridged bottomed container with closed sides and top, at minimum.
Can the family witness the cremation?
Yes they can; some cremation providers will allow family members to be present when the body is placed in the cremation chamber. Some religious groups even include this as part of their funeral custom. Typically the cremation takes up to three hours so the body is just witnessed going into the retort, not the entire process.
Can an urn be brought into church?
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. Most Catholic Churches also allow the remains to be present during the Memorial Mass. It is encouraged that cremated remains be a part of a memorial as it provides a focal point for the service. It is important to note the difference in a Catholic service between a Memorial Mass with ashes present and a Mass of Christian Burial with the body present.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
While laws vary province by province, for the most part remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or a cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered. In Ontario, when it comes to scattering, remains may be scattered at a cemetery in their scattering gardens (make sure you make arrangements to do this with the cemetery), or “on unoccupied Crown lands and Crown lands covered by water”, or “You may scatter the cremated remains on private property with the consent of the land owner”. (Quotes from, the Consumer Information Guide to Funerals, Burials and Cremation Services)
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you plan is to scatter the remains please note that the ashes have some heavier components and some very light components. The light part of the ashes will get picked up by the wind very easily, so when scattering ashes always try to do so on a calm day. Scattering ashes on water will leave the light portion floating on top while the heavier components sink, some urns are specially designed to sink with the ashes contained then dissolve over a short time.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
All reputable cremation providers have developed rigorous sets of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize the level of service and minimize the potential for human error. Since it is illegal to perform more than one cremation at a time, and the vast majority of crematories can only cremate one body at a time, it is next to impossible to receive the incorrect remains.
How long does the actual cremation take?
It all depends on the weight of the individual. For an average sized adult, cremation can take two to three hours at a normal operating temperature of between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in colour. The remains of an average sized adult usually weigh between 7 and 8 pounds.
Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.
Do I need an urn?
An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or if the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary plastic container. If the remains are to be placed in a niche of a columbarium where two inurnments are to take place make sure both urns will fit into the niche. A companion urn may be an option; interring or inurning both ashes at the same time in the same urn.
Traditionally, a burial service involves a visitation, followed by a funeral service in a church, funeral home, or other place of worship. The casket is typically present at both events, and it is your decision on whether to have the casket open or closed. You have the option of having the remains interred (earth burial), or they may be entombed in a crypt inside a mausoleum (above ground burial). Family or religious traditions are often a factor for choosing burial. Decisions need to be made on whether the body needs to be embalmed, what kind of casket to use, what cemetery to use, what to put on the gravestone and type of vault (if needed, or desired).
Why people choose burial
Although the trend is moving toward cremation, the majority of North Americans still choose to bury.
Here are some reasons you might choose burial:
Burial is traditional within your family, religious group, or geographical area. For instance, in Canada, the rate is about 60 percent.
You do not like the idea of the body being “burned”; you prefer to have the body slowly return to the elements.
You want to erect a monument on the grave. Perhaps you want to visit the grave in the days to come, and you find a cemetery more appealing than, a columbarium.
Decisions You Must Make If You Choose Burial:
Whether or not the body is to be embalmed
Will the graveside service be a private event and will it be before or after the funeral/lunch?
Which kind of casket (or coffin) to use
Whether or not the cemetery requires a vault or grave liner
Which cemetery to use, which plot
What kind of plot
What to put on the gravestone
Decomposition of the body in the earth (after burial) is the slow oxidation of the body tissues. Cremation, on the other hand, provides rapid oxidation. No casket is legally required for cremation, a simple container, which is strong enough to hold the body is required. This could be a box of rough boards, pressboard, or heavy cardboard. Some crematories accept metal caskets; most require the container to be combustible.
Monumental cemetery: A monumental cemetery is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble or granite rise vertically above the ground. There are countless different types of designs for headstones, ranging from very simple to large and complex. Often these cemeteries are divided into different sections. Often an area will be designated for cremation burial, there may be a columbarium in this area (which is like a mausoleum for cremated remains), and this area may also have scattering grounds where ashes may be spread. Some cemeteries will allow up to four cremated remains to be buried in a full size burial lot, or three with a full size burial already interred. It is important to know who has burial rights on a cemetery plot before too many plans are made, as it can be difficult to obtain permission on older family plots.
Lawn cemetery: A lawn cemetery is where each grave is marked with a small commemorative plaque that is placed horizontally at the head of the grave at ground-level. Families can still be involved in the design and the information contained on the plaque, however in most cases the plaques are a standard design.
Mausoleum: A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum. The most famous mausoleum is the Taj Mahal in India.
Columbarium: Columbarium walls are reserved for cremated remains. These walls are made up of many compartments called “niches”, a niche will typically be about one foot cubed. People will often plan to inurn two cremated remains in one niche, if this is the case be sure to know that the urns selected will fit. While cremated remains can be kept at home by families or scattered somewhere significant to the deceased, as the law allows, a columbarium provides friends and family a place to come to mourn and visit. Columbarium walls do not take up a lot of space and it can be a less expensive alternative to a burial plot, after all costs are considered.
Natural/Green cemeteries: A natural cemetery, also known as an eco-cemetery or a green cemetery is a new style of cemetery set aside for natural burials. Natural burials are motivated by the desire to be environmentally conscious. Conventional markings such as headstones are generally replaced with a tree or a bush or a placement of a natural rock. This type of cemetery is not common in Ontario; the closest green cemetery is in Cobourg.