What is cremation?
Cremation is a process in which all carbon content is removed from the body by exposing it to extremely high temperatures. The heat consumes all organic matter, leaving behind bone fragments, known as “cremated remains” or “ashes”, which are then processed into fine particles, packaged, and placed in an urn.
Why do people choose cremation?
Cremation is a personal preference for many different reasons, including environmental concerns, religious beliefs, and simplicity. With a more mobile society where families are often spread distances apart, cremation allows the ashes to be divided among family members in keepsake urns and jewellery so their loved one can be with them wherever they are located. Another benefit is the increased flexibility it provides when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation or a committal service after cremation on a special date or later in spring or summer when the weather may be more suitable for family and friends to gather. A memorial reception can also be held in a funeral centre or, with approval, a place of special interest to you or your loved ones.
Do all religions permit cremation?
Most religions allow you to choose. Canon Law now permits cremation for Roman Catholics; some religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, prefer cremation; while Muslim, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish Orthodox faiths forbid cremation. Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest you speak with a member of your clergy or faith leader.
What happens during the cremation process?
The cremation process consists of several stages that can take up to 3 hours depending on the size and weight of the deceased and type of casket or container. The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber, where it is subjected to intense heat, consuming all substances except bone fragments and any non-combustible materials that were not removed prior to cremation such as orthopedic metals from surgical implants. The cremated remains are carefully removed from the cremation chamber. Following a cooling period, any remaining metal or orthopedic implants are separated from the cremated remains and recycled. The bone fragments are then reduced into fine particles by a mechanical process and placed in a temporary container provided by Mount Pleasant Group (“MPG”) or an urn purchased by the family.
How are the remains packaged?
Cremated remains are placed in a poly-film bag and placed in a temporary cardboard container provided by our Cremation Centre or in an urn or container provided or purchased by the family. In the event that the urn or container supplied will not hold all of the cremated remains, an additional cardboard container will be used.
What options exist for urns?
Urns come in a wide range of styles, sizes, materials, and prices. Some commonly chosen options include urns made from wood, bronze, marble, ceramic, glass or biodegradable materials.
Cremation also allows for a variety of keepsake options that can help you feel continually connected to a departed loved one and preserve their memory in a more physical way. For example, a small amount of ashes can be placed within a piece of keepsake jewellery, a small keepsake urn, or even a plush teddy bear.
Can I bring my own urn?
Yes, however it would be advisable that you discuss this situation with our staff prior to the cremation. The size of the urn will be important if it is to house all of the cremated remains. Also, if the urn will be placed in a niche, it is important to ensure the niche dimensions will accommodate the size of urn selected.
You have chosen cremation. What’s next?
You need to decide what should be done with the ashes.
Ashes can be buried in a grave or lot; placed in a niche above ground; scattered in a cemetery garden, cremation ossuary or some other meaningful place such as at sea or land in accordance with provincial or local laws; turned into a certified diamond; inserted into an hour glass; incorporated with a hand-blown glass memorial; or launched into space. Your options are varied and limited only by your imagination.
If you are not ready to make a decision regarding a final resting place at this time, they can be taken home.
What is a niche?
A niche is a compartment designed for the permanent placement of urns above ground. An arrangement of niches is called a columbarium, which is often located within a mausoleum or chapel, sometimes free-standing, either indoor or outdoor, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches). There are different types of niches, including single niches for one urn, double niches for two urns side by side, and family niches for up to four urns. Some niches have wood, bronze, granite or marble fronts on which an inscription may be placed. For a more personal memorial, glass-fronted niches allow small tokens or pictures to be placed alongside the urns and remain visible.
If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?
Yes. Cremated remains may be buried in the same grave as casketed remains.
What about memorialization?
With cremation, your options for memorialization are numerous and varied. Memorialization can be service related, such as honouring one in a Celebration of Life where people may gather to share favourite stories, music and even a video tribute, but it also refers to a more permanent memorial such as a flat marker, upright monument (headstone) or niche inscription. Among other options, memorialization could also include benches, plaques, and boulders, which pay tribute to the deceased and act as a lasting record for generations to come.
Can I scatter the remains on private property?
Yes, with permission of the land owner. Scattering on Crown land including land covered by water is permissible if it is unoccupied. For scattering on municipally-owned land, contact the local or regional municipality to check on any restrictions. Bear in mind that scattering outside of a cemetery may not provide a permanent memorial as the location may be sold, redeveloped, or have access restricted in the future.
What is the benefit of choosing to bury or scatter in a cemetery?
Cemeteries in Ontario are maintained and preserved forever. Whether ashes are placed in a grave or a niche or scattered, a cemetery provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased and ensures that future generations will have a permanent record and place to visit and remember their loved ones.
What documents are required prior to the cremation taking place?
We require a completed and signed MPG Application for Cremation and Contract, Coroner’s Cremation Certificate signed by an Ontario Coroner, and a Burial Permit issued by the Registrar General showing that the death has been registered with the government before a cremation can take place. Our staff will look after obtaining all necessary documents.
Who can authorize a cremation?
Only certain people have the legal authority to decide what will happen to the body of a deceased person. In order of priority, they are:
Executor(s) or court-appointed administrator
Parents of the deceased
MPG requires that all immediate next of kin be informed of the cremation. Should there be any objections to the cremation, MPG will not proceed with the cremation until an agreement is reached among the next of kin.
How soon after death can cremation take place?
Because cremation is an irreversible process and because the process itself will eliminate any ability to determine exact cause of death, Ontario law requires that a coroner or medical examiner authorize each cremation. MPG will complete cremations after the expiry of at least 48 hours from the time of death as set out on the Cremation Application unless otherwise directed in writing by the Executor or next of kin requesting the cremation (“Applicant for Cremation”). All of our cremation centres have secure holding facilities.
Are traditional funeral services and cremation services different?
No, cremation does not limit the types of services you may choose. Cremation is not a substitute for a funeral. It is simply a method of preparing human remains for the final resting place. You may, for example, choose to have a visitation and funeral service with the casket present before the cremation; a memorial service after cremation with or without the urn present; or a graveside service at time of burial. Your choices can be as traditional or as simple as you wish.
What if the deceased had a medical implant such as a pacemaker, defibrillator or radioactive device?
It is essential that pacemakers, defibrillators, and other medical implants (including radioactive implants) be removed before the deceased is transported to the Cremation Centre. Such devices may explode when subjected to high temperatures, which can be hazardous to our staff and equipment. In addition, any special mementos, such as jewellery, will be destroyed during the cremation process. Anything you wish to keep should be removed by the funeral director before the casket or container is transferred to our Cremation Centre.
MPG will not under any circumstances cremate an individual who has received microscopic radioactive treatment such as Thera-Seed.
Are cremations done individually?
Yes. Only one body and casket/container is cremated at a time.
Is the body exposed to an open flame during the cremation process?
Yes, once the casket/container is consumed, the body is exposed to direct heat and flame. Cremation is performed by placing the deceased in a casket or other container and then placing the casket or container into a cremation chamber or retort, where they are subjected to intense heat and flame.
Is embalming necessary for cremation?
No. In most cases, embalming is your choice. It may depend on such factors as time, health, religious beliefs, whether or not there will be a viewing of the body, whether there is to be a funeral service, or whether there is a temperature-controlled area available. Embalming may also be necessary if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the cremation.
Is a casket required?
Ontario law requires a closed casket or rigid container made of wood or other combustible material to allow for the dignified handling of human remains. The type of casket or container is really a personal decision. Consideration of funeral details such as whether there may be a service prior to cremation or a memorial celebration afterwards may help in deciding casket preference.
Can a casket be rented instead of purchased?
Yes. A ceremonial (or rental) casket has a removable interior wooden liner in which the body is placed and is specifically designed to provide a very aesthetically pleasing, affordable and environmentally prudent alternative to purchasing a casket for a visitation or service. The rental portion of the casket is removed and the inner casket liner containing the body is closed and then transferred to the Cremation Centre.
Are there special cremation caskets?
Some restrictions do apply for cremation caskets. Metal caskets or containers cannot be cremated. Neither may cremation caskets nor containers be made of or contain non-flammable or hazardous materials such as: white metal, mattresses, metal box springs, glass objects, chlorinated plastic or fibre-reinforced plastic. Aside from these restrictions, the type of casket or container selected is really a personal decision. Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from simple containers and cloth-covered caskets to handcrafted oak, maple, cherry, or mahogany caskets.
Is the casket cremated with the body?
Yes. Under no circumstances is the casket or container opened by our Cremation Centre staff. Prior to cremation taking place, metal casket handles and other exterior metal casket fittings will be removed by the Cremation Centre to prevent damage to the equipment and recycled with the permission of the Applicant for Cremation.
Can personal items be placed inside the casket with the deceased?
Yes, providing these items pose no health and/or safety risk during cremation and are composed of materials that are environmentally safe. Please keep in mind that personal items are not recoverable after the cremation. In many instances, families choose to place jewellery or other small items in the urn with the cremated remains after the cremation is complete.
What happens to jewellery during the cremation?
The extreme temperature attained during the cremation destroys items of jewellery, making them unrecoverable. If you wish to keep any jewellery, we suggest they be removed before the casket or container is transferred to the Cremation Centre.
Can I witness the cremation process?
Absolutely. In fact, some religions require it as part of their ritual. Our newly designed, state-of-the-art Cremation Centres have been specially designed to accommodate public witnessing in a comfortable environment. You may make arrangements in advance with our staff to witness the casket or container being placed into the cremation chamber. You may even initiate the cremation process itself.
How do I know I will get back the cremated remains of my loved one?
Throughout the cremation process, MPG uses a metal identification tag with a unique numbering system to ensure proper identification. This tag is assigned to the casketed human remains when they are delivered to our Cremation Centre and contains MPG’s name and an identification number that is unique to the deceased. The metal tag accompanies the remains throughout the various stages of cremation and is placed in the cremation urn or container during final packaging.
What do cremated remains look like?
Ashes of an average adult weigh between 2 and 4 kilograms and are usually gray in colour, and look like coarse sand once processed.
How soon after the cremation are the remains ready?
Generally, ashes will be released within 48 hours from the date the casket or container is received at our Cremation Centre. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to expedite the process. Please consult with our staff to make such arrangements. We will release the ashes only to the individual (who will be asked to provide photo identification) or the cemetery or the funeral home as designated on the Cremation Application.
How quickly must I decide on what to do with the cremated remains?
We will hold cremated remains for a period up to one year from the date of cremation to allow you to make a final decision. If, after one year, the cremated remains are unclaimed, we will bury them in a common grave within one of our cemeteries. Due to ground conditions, cremated remains buried in a common grave may not be retrievable in the future.
Is cremation less expensive than a standard ground burial?
Yes and no. Although, the basic charge to perform a cremation is less than the cost of preparing a grave for a ground burial, the overall cost for either service will depend on a number of factors, such as whether a visitation and/or funeral service is held, the type of casket, grave, niche, urn selected and memorialization.
Can cremated remains be tested for DNA?
No. The cremation process is irreversible and all genealogical and medical DNA are destroyed by the intense heat during cremation. However, arrangements can be made during your funeral arrangements with us to obtain a DNA sample from your loved one before the cremation takes place.
Can I cremate my pet?
No. MPG will cremate only human remains. There are, however, other crematoriums that specifically cremate pets. Your veterinarian or local humane society may be able to provide you with further information.
Can I transport cremated remains?
Yes. Cremated remains may be mailed or carried by hand to another destination. For mailing, we recommend using registered mail as this will help you in tracking the urn in transit. For information on Canada Post’s shipping requirements, please visit www.canadapost.ca. If you are taking the remains on a plane, the urn or container must pass through the x-ray to be permitted as carry-on past the checkpoint. Due to differences in thickness, shape and material, some urns or containers, such as plastic, cardboard, and cloth, are more likely to clear the security screening while metal, granite, and ceramic containers are less likely to be permitted. Screening officers are not allowed to open the urn or container nor will they inspect the contents if you open it. Some airlines do not allow cremated remains in checked baggage, so please check with your airline first to learn about possible restrictions. It is advisable to carry the death and cremation certificates. For more information, you can visit www.catsa.gc.ca or call 1-800-O-Canada.
Should I indicate my desire to be cremated in my Will?
As Wills are generally read after the funeral, it is best to let your Executor and family know in advance of your wish to be cremated and ensure they agree to abide by your wish. It can be helpful to preplan your cremation. Keep in mind, however, that an individual is not permitted under law to authorize his/her own cremation. The Executor and/or next of kin bear legal responsibility in the disposition of the deceased and have final say on whether to proceed with cremation.