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Cremation 101: Truth and Misconceptions A Question and Answer Interview With Eric Trimble

Eric Trimble 

Submitted by Trimble Funeral and Cremation Centers

No matter where or how you start the conversation about cremation, many people have based their opinions about cremation on myth or misconception sprinkled with some truth. It is a personal decision that should be based on accurate information from a trained professional funeral director. Eric Trimble of Moline, licensed funeral director, embalmer, and owner of Trimble Funeral and Cremation Centers shares his answers to the most commonly asked questions about cremation.

Q: Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?

A: Cremation is just one step of the many steps in the preparation process for memorialization of human remains.
This is a major misconception. Many people I speak with say, “I want cremation so I don’t need to prearrange my preferences.” This just isn’t the case, as several other decisions need to be made. Do you want a viewing? Will there be a memorial service? Would you consider a memorial gathering to celebrate a life with food and drink?

Without pre-arrangements, the biggest question left unanswered is the disposition of the cremated remains. Cremains, as they are commonly called, can be interred in a cemetery plot, retained by a family member, scattered, formed into jewelry, or placed in a columbarium after the person’s life is honored and celebrated by friends and family.

Q: Why am I hearing more about cremation these days?
A: More people are pre-planning their own services and choosing cremation. The reasons are many, but the most common answers are for environmental, personal preference, and financial considerations. Illinois law gives an individual the first right to control their own disposition, but in some other states you cannot authorize your own cremation, so you need to get your next of kin involved.

Q: What exactly is the cremation process?
A: Cremation is the mechanical and/or thermal or other dissolution process that reduces human remains to bone fragments.

Q: How long does it take?
A: The casket or container is placed in a chamber called a retort where the temperature is raised to 1400–1800 degrees Fahrenheit. After 2–3 hours of this exposure to heat, all organic matter is consumed by heat or evaporation. What remains are basically bone fragments, which are processed into fine particles. The particles or cremains are labeled and placed in a container or urn.

Q: Can a person watch the cremation?

A: Yes, arrangements can be made for relatives or representatives of the deceased to witness the cremation.

Q: Can we have a regular funeral and visitation first?
A: Families actually have more options when cremation is selected. There can be a visitation with an open or closed casket prior to a service. Or, cremation can take place first with cremated remains placed in an urn for a service and later committed to an indoor or outdoor above ground mausoleum/columbarium, interred in a family burial plot, or scattered in an approved garden.

Q: Does the family actually purchase a casket?

A: The first question that needs to be asked is if there will be a viewing or funeral service prior to the cremation. A ceremonial or rental casket can be provided. It is specifically designed with removable beds and liners, which are replaced after each use to provide a very aesthetically pleasing, affordable alternative to purchasing a casket.

Q: Will we have a place to visit and remember our loved one?

A: I believe it is important to have remains placed or interred within a cemetery’s grounds to insure that future generations have a place to go and remember a family member. If remains are scattered, you may have the option to place a bronze or stone memorial on the cemetery grounds so survivors will have a place to visit, which will be maintained and preserved with perpetual care.

Q: What if I prefer a casket burial and my spouse cremation?
A: Some cemeteries allow cremains to be buried on top of casketed remains. Additionally, multiple cremated remains can be interred in a single grave space. Again, this is where a pre-planning appointment is helpful as your local funeral director can call your family cemetery for you. With your plan in place, be sure to speak candidly with your immediate family so they will honor your wishes.

Q: What happens if family members differ on final arrangements for a loved one?

A: When pre-planning your final wishes, you can sign a cremation authorization, which basically states, “I do not wish to allow family to change this authorization.” If there is nothing in writing and next of kin differ, there is a majority rules guideline.

Q: If death occurs out of town and there will be no service, can the cremation happen at place of death?
A: Yes. Your first step is to call your local hometown funeral director to discuss the most affordable options and have him or her make the arrangements through their professional network. This step is especially important if the deceased has “pre-paid” for their funeral with your local funeral home.

Trimble Funeral and Cremation Centers Moline will be moving to their new facility at Trimble Pointe, in early summer 2014. This multi-faceted center includes an on-site crematory complete with a viewing room for families to say goodbye prior to cremation. Trimble Pointe will be located at 701 12th Street, Moline. To tour the new facility and see the crematory, call 309-764-1144 to request a VIP Open House invitation.

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