What exactly is cremation?

In scientific terms, 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 and it is not a type of funeral service.  With cremation, you still have the opportunity to have a funeral or memorial service.  Cremains can be buried, kept in a mausoleum or crypt, or be stored in an urn.

Who can authorize cremation?
The following persons in the priority listed may act as the Authorizing Agent to give permission to the cremation of the decedent’s remains. In the event of multiple persons in the line of heirship (children, parents or siblings), signatures will be required from all persons in that line.  Authorization for cremation and disposition must be made on the authorization forms provided by Cremation Service of Central MA.

  1. The person designated in a written instrument signed by the decedent;
  2. The decedent’s spouse;
  3. All of the decedent’s surviving adult children;
  4. The decedent’s surviving parent(s);
  5. All of the decedent’s surviving adult siblings.

Cremation Service of Central MA reserves the right to refuse to complete the cremation if all persons have not signed. If a dispute has not been resolved concerning the cremation of the remains, a reasonable basis for questioning any representation made by the Authorizing Agent, or other lawful reasons exist for refusal to cremate the remains. The same is true for the release of the cremated remains.

How long does the actual cremation take?
For an average size adult, the cremation takes from two to three hours.  By law, in MA and NH, there is a two-day waiting period after death, prior to cremation. Also, by law, a Medical Examiner must view the body, prior to cremation.  Paperwork must be filed so the total time before the cremated remains can be delivered can be five to seven business days.

What is the next step after the cremation is complete?
All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items are "swept" into the front of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan. All non-consumed items, like metal from clothing, hip joints, and bridge work, are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn, selected by the family.

What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds of cremated remains.

In what type of container are the cremated remains returned?
The cremated remains are placed in a simple urn, included in your package.  If you request and order an urn of your choice, the remains will be placed in that urn or urns.

Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

What can be done with the cremated remains?
There are many options. Remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered on private property. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you.

Can two cremations be performed at once?
Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult.

Can the family witness the cremation?
Yes, for a nominal fee. The cremation facilities that we use are set up to allow family members to be present when the body is placed into the cremation chamber. In fact, some religious groups include this as part of their funeral custom.

How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
A rigorous set of operating policies and procedures are in place to maximize the level of quality and minimize the potential for human error. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process. Only certified professionals are permitted to operate cremation equipment.

Do I need to buy an urn?
An urn is not required by law. However, a simple urn is included in your package and other options are available. An urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the cremated remains are to be interred in a cemetery.

Is a casket needed for cremation?
A casket is not required for cremation. All that is required by state law is a rigid container which is cremated with the body and is included in your package.

Is embalming required prior to cremation?
A direct cremation (without a viewing or visiting hours) does not require embalming.

When a Death Occurs
When a death occurs, the order in which things need to be done often depends on where the death occurred. That's why we suggest that you ask a friend for help - someone who is more able to think clearly, and give you the support you need.

At Home or at Work
When a death occurs at home or in the workplace, a family member or co-worker should contact emergency personnel and the person's physician if he or she was under a doctor's care. If the death occurs at home with family or friends present, and the person is under a physician's care, the family will want to call us directly.

However, if the death occurs in a residence and no one is there at the time of death, the police will need to be notified and respond to the residence before the deceased is removed from the home.

If in any case you are not sure of who to notify or what to do, you may call us at 844-380-7313 and we'll assist you in notifying the proper agencies.

While Under Supervised Care
When a death occurs in a care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, the professional staff will notify you and the necessary authorities. You will want the institution to notify us so that we can contact you to help you proceed with your arrangements.  

If a loved one was in the care of a hospice program, a hospice representative will give family members instructions and procedures to follow. The coroner/medical examiner will be notified by hospice. Following their release the hospice will contact us. It is always a good idea for the family to contact us immediately so that we will be aware of the pending call from hospice.