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Cremation Services

Simply put, Cremation is the accelerated reduction of the remains to ash, through the process of heat and fire.
 
There are many misconceptions about cremation such as it is more environmentally friendly than traditional burial.  We urge families to consider whichever option suits them best at the time of need.  With cremation rates steadily on the rise, it begs the question "Will there still be traditional burial in 50 years?"  Each funeral is as unique as the individual so our answer is yes.  Families will continue to follow in the path of their previous generations and we will continue to serve our families to the best of our capability.
 
We primarily use the crematory at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  They have developed a wonderful brochure entitled "Understanding Cremation", which answers many of the questions that people have regarding cremation.  Please click here to download a copy of "Understanding Cremation".
 
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, just a simple container, which is strong enough to hold the body. This could be a box of rough boards, pressboard, or heavy cardboard.
 
Some crematories accept metal caskets; most require the container to be combustible.
 

Cremation Choices

If the body is cremated:
  • The remains can be stored by the family
  • You may take the remains in the simple cardboard box supplied by the crematory and distribute ("scatter") them over the land or water.
  • The remains can be placed in a niche within a columbarium.
  • The remains can be buried in the ground in a regular plot or in a smaller cremation plot.
  • The remains can be entombed in a crypt within a mausoleum.

Why People Choose Cremation

Those who choose cremation (for themselves or others) often hold the belief that it is better to honor the memory of the person, not the dead body. In the United States, in 1972, only five percent chose cremation. That number had quintupled by 1999, with over 25% choosing cremation. In Canada, the rate is already over 42%; in Great Britain, 71%; and over 98% in Japan.
 

Other Reasons You Might Choose Cremation

  • Many people believe that a cremated body becomes one with nature more quickly. Cremation is traditional in your family, religious group, or geographical area
  • You prefer the body to be returned quickly and cleanly to the elements
  • You have environmental concerns
  • Perhaps you are worried about the use of valuable land for cemetery space, or believe it is wrong to fill the ground with materials that won't erode ... metal coffins and concrete vaults.
  • You want to keep the costs down
  • Selecting cremation does not mean, however, that you will have an inexpensive funeral.
  • You might still choose an expensive 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

  • Who will do the cremation (a funeral home or a firm that specializes in direct cremation)
  • Whether to use an urn or container
  • What to do with the 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 a mountain, or a ship to scatter them at sea.
 
Think of places that were especially loved by the deceased, close to home or far away. You can walk in the woods, by a favorite 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 flowerbeds and rose gardens at home. Every time the roses bloom, you will be reminded of your loved one. If you decide to do this, however, consider what will happen if, some day, you move away.

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2175 Massachusetts Avenue | Cambridge, MA 02140 | Fax: 617.491.2357 | Email: info@keefefuneralhome.com