How to Choose a Crematory
Most people already know that when they are ready to start funeral planning, they will need to select the funeral home and cemetery that will be handling their loved one’s remains. After all, the funeral home you choose determines who will be responsible for overseeing the entire funeral process, and the cemetery is where you will visit your loved one’s remains for decades to come.
However, if you are opting for cremation instead of burial, you may also need to select a crematory. Although it is much less common for families to shop around at different crematories to select the best one (in fact, most people never set foot inside the crematory at all), you may wish to oversee this part of the selection process on a more personal level.
This is especially true if you are opting for the direct cremation option, as you may be able to bypass the funeral home entirely to save money.
Funeral Home Crematories
Oftentimes, funeral homes and crematories (and funeral homes and cemeteries) work together to serve their consumers. This means that when you choose a funeral home with its own crematory, or with a partner crematory, the default assumption is that all plans will go through them.
In fact, this is one reason why people choose one funeral home over another. If you want your loved one’s remains to go through as few hands as possible, it is best to find a funeral home that has an affiliated crematory. This way, your loved one’s remains will be overseen by the same group of people, and you can feel confident in his or her care.
This is also a good way to ensure that you have the exact package you want. If you would like to include embalming, a visitation, or a full funeral service with the cremation, it is usually best to find a complete package provider.
Some crematories operate as independent organizations, either contracting with funeral homes to provide service, or working as part of a list of city/county services. (In fact, you can find a fairly comprehensive list at the Crematory Association of North America.)
These work best if you want a direct cremation, or if you will be doing much of the detail work of funeral planning yourself. It can also be a great way to save money on a funeral—by bypassing the funeral home, you can eliminate many of the heavier costs.
If you choose an independent crematory, however, be sure you ask a few important questions first:
- Am I allowed to watch the cremation take place?
- Who owns the crematory facility? (This is a good way to find out if it is part of a funeral home network or cremation firm.)
- Do they have the right licenses and permits?
- Is the facility insured?
- When was the last crematory inspection?
- How long will the body be held, and what is the waiting time for the ashes to be delivered?
It is also a good idea to ask if you can visit before you make a final decision. Although you do not have to be on site when the cremation occurs, you might feel better about your choice if you can have someone walk you through the entire process.