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Cremation is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to say goodbye to a loved one. The simplicity of cremation, paired with the meaningful gesture of burial or scattering, is appealing to many families who are looking for an alternative to traditional burial.

As more and more families choose cremation, we’ve noticed certain questions and concerns that arise again and again. Cremation can be a meaningful choice for many families, but there are some misconceptions about the process that might be confusing for some. At Horan & McConaty, we’re dedicated to educating our families about the options available to them after they’ve experienced loss. We believe in the power of remembrance, and while it might seem like cremation services are a departure from the traditional funeral service, there are many ways in which the two are similar and harmonious. Here’s what you need to know.

Group of friends with arms around each other looking out over the ocean.

Some common misconceptions about cremation

There are several misconceptions we regularly encounter about cremation. The biggest is the worry that families will not receive the correct cremated remains. This is a very understandable anxiety. We all want to make sure our loved ones are cared for and respected throughout the cremation and funeral service journey. When we can’t see our loved one’s face, this anxiety creates doubt.

We understand this feeling. We take the utmost care to make sure the remains you receive are those of your loved one with multiple checks along the way, including the moments immediately before cremation. Because we only cremate one individual at once, there is no danger of remains becoming mixed up. Our process ensures not only that the remains you receive are those of your loved one, but also peace of mind in knowing that your loved one was cared for along the way.

Funeral services are possible before and after cremation

Another misconception we’ve encountered is that a family cannot hold funeral services when they choose cremation. Not only is this not true, but cremation services can look a lot like a traditional funeral service, up to and including burial of the ashes. If you’d like to have a viewing, for example, the cremation can take place after. If you choose to bury you loved one’s ashes, you can hold a graveside service. And even if you choose direct cremation, you can hold funeral services after.

A scattering ceremony is also a wonderful way to say goodbye. Perhaps there was somewhere particularly meaningful to your loved one where you’d like to scatter their ashes. Or maybe you’d like to scatter in a cemetery or memorial garden. We can help you decide where and how to scatter if you choose this option.

Cremation allows families certain advantages over burial

Sometimes families have expectations about cremation that either cannot be met, or are just not accurate. A common one is timing. The process of filing a death certificate and obtaining the cremation permit takes about 5-7 business days. Because of this, we cannot do a cremation the same day that death occurs.

However, this can be a hidden blessing for many families. Cremation allows for the flexibility of time. Families who are unsure of what they want to do with their loved one’s ashes don’t have to decide right away. They can weigh their options and consult family and friends, or even clergy. They can then decide if they want to bury their loved one’s ashes, or hold a scattering ceremony, or simply sit with their loved one’s ashes for a certain amount of time before making this difficult decision. This flexibility of time also allows for flexibility in funeral service planning. A funeral service can happen weeks or even months after the cremation occurs to allow everyone who wants to be there the chance to plan and travel.

Our advice for those who are undecided

Many times, families are unsure whether to choose cremation or traditional burial. Because cremation is irreversible, families need to be 100% certain that cremation is their wish. But cremation is no less meaningful than burial. And because cremation does not require a casket, and can be done without purchasing cemetery property, it is much less costly than traditional burial.

Our main piece of advice for families is to have some sort of funeral. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple gathering of remembrance is an effective way to honor a loved one, grieve together as a community, and accept the reality of loss. A funeral is an important step along the path of healing. Don’t deny yourself or your family this gift.

Horan & McConaty is committed to providing care to you and your family as you consider cremation. We want you to be able to celebrate the life of your loved one, and we will do everything we can to support you and your family through this process. Call us, day or night, at 303.745.4418 to learn more about our services or support, or visit any of our seven funeral homes in the Denver Metro area.

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