What Should My Loved One Wear to be Cremated?
When families choose a burial outfit for their loved ones, they often select something formal or that holds deep meaning. For example, a military service uniform, a favorite dress, church attire, or even a wedding gown might be deemed appropriate as a final outfit.
This is especially true if there will be an open casket or if there is a visitation prior to the service. By dressing the deceased in a way that honors their life and celebrates something that was unique and meaningful to them, you can provide a tribute that will last long after the funeral is over.
In cremation, however, it is not always possible to say goodbye in full military regalia or with a favorite piece of jewelry on. Depending on where you live and which funeral home and/or crematorium you choose to work with, you may be restricted in the types of clothing options available for the deceased.
Cremation Safety Concerns
Because of the high heats associated with cremation, items like pacemakers and metal jewelry must be removed prior to the procedure. Pacemakers have the potential to explode when exposed to the heat, and metal jewelry gets melted down and ruins the equipment. So, too, might some clothing types contain chemicals that cannot be released into the air. Regulations regarding cremation vary depending on where you live, so some states will have more restrictions than others. (Individual crematoriums also have their own rules.)
Zippers, buttons, medals, and other items traditionally on clothing can also get in the way. Many of these items will be removed prior to cremation (or discarded when the ashes are put into the urn).
Dressing the Deceased
Before you choose an outfit for your loved one to be cremated in, talk to the funeral director and/or crematorium operator to learn what restrictions are in place. Most of them are fully willing to work with you regarding religious and personal restrictions, and will take your wishes into full consideration. In fact, many of them will allow you to place certain types of items in the chamber with the deceased, provided they are not harmful to the cremation process (a cherished bible, family photos, flowers, etc.).
For this reason, you may end up dressing the deceased in a simple shroud designed to uphold their modesty, a comfortable nightgown they loved, or a more formal suit without any dangerous chemicals or fixtures. Many people also opt to be cremated in a hospital gown or other simple cotton sheath, as this honors the natural process of cremation.
If you have any concerns about the clothing allowed in the cremation chamber, be sure and talk with your funeral director. If you find there are too many restrictions, you may end up deciding that burial is a better solution after all.