The Columbarium of All Saints’ Episcopal Church provides a special place at the church for the interment of the ashes of deceased parishioners and their families. The Columbarium also provides space for memorial plaques for those persons buried elsewhere but whose family and friends wish them to be remembered in the Memorial Garden. For additional questions, please contact the Rector firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What is a Columbarium?
A. It is a group of niches, which contain the cremated remains of the departed.
Q. Why does a columbarium belong in a church?
A. The Church has traditionally been the natural repository and final resting-place of the deceased members of the Christian community. Burial inside the church was once reserved to honor the noteworthy clerics, nobles and citizens. The church grounds often contained the cemetery for the parish members. As cities grew and land became less available the church often set up central cemeteries, which served many parishes. Cremation makes it possible, since it has become the accepted alternative to burial, to return to the parish with a Memorial Garden. Currently there are thousands of columbaria throughout the land.
Q: I understand that more and more people are choosing cremation. Is this because the cost is lower?
A. While it is true that the cost of cremation is about 20% that of body burial, many people are choosing and planning cremation because of other factors. These include the simplicity and dignity of cremation services, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation offers in ceremony planning and in the disposition of the remains.
Q: If cremation is chosen, is a funeral home called at the time of death?
A. No. If you do not wish to do so, it is not necessary to engage the services of a separate funeral home. However, some families may wish to utilize the other services a funeral home may offer.
Q: What advantage would there be in prepaying my cremation costs?
A: There are two major advantages to prepayment. One is that you may be offered a discounted price and an inflation-proof contract. This means that no further money will be due at any time. This financial advantage also will prevent your survivors from having to pay for your last needs at a time when circumstances such as a catastrophic illness might have reduced their ability to pay without hardship. The other advantage is not related to cost; it has to do with the desire many people feel to be independent and to take care of their own needs without placing the burden on others who will be grieving the loss of a loved one. This consideration also applies to people who feel it is likely that at the time of death, they will have no family members to take care of their final arrangements.
Q: Exactly what happens at the crematory? Can a family member or clergy be present at the cremation?
A: The deceased is placed in a combustible box which is used during refrigerated storage and then placed intact in the cremation chamber. Family or clergy can choose to be present at the initiation of the cremation process. After cremation, the remains consist of bone fragments and a minimal amount of ash from the box. These are pulverized to a uniform consistency and placed in the desired container. Family or clergy can choose to receive the cremated remains at the crematory or some other designated place.
Q: Is the deceased person cremated unclothed?
A- The deceased may be clothed as desired by the family. A military uniform, scholastic robe or other special garment may be cremated. Often the special clothing is neatly folded and cremated with the deceased.
Q: What happens to parts of the body or clothing that won't burn?
A. These parts include metal buttons and medals, hip replacement joints, dental gold, etc. After cremation, large fragments of metal that can readily be separated from the ashes are removed and discarded prior to pulverizing. Dental gold is not recoverable and is dispersed through the remains. Some items have to be removed from the deceased prior to cremation because of explosive risks, these include cardiac pacemakers and implanted measured dose dispensing devices.
Q: Does a body have to be embalmed before cremation?
A. Embalming is necessary only if there is to be a public viewing or if the body is taken into a church.
Q: What do cremated remains that are returned to the family look like?
A. The quantity of cremated remains of an adult is comparable to the size of a 6 x 6 x 6 box or a large dictionary. Since it consists mostly of bone fragments, it is fairly heavy. Because of pulverizing, the appearance is somewhat like that of crushed seashells. Unless a container is furnished, the cremated remains are returned in a plain temporary container.
Q: My family may be willing to accept my plans for cremation, but they would like me to have a traditional funeral service. Is this possible?
(1) If the family wishes to have the body present for the funeral, the deceased may be embalmed and placed in a rental casket. A traditional funeral can be held without the expense of purchasing a casket, vault, burial space, or monument.
(2) The family may wish to conduct a traditional funeral with the urn of ashes, rather than the body, present in the church. The funeral service would remain the same.
Q: What happens if I want to be cremated when I die, but a family member is opposed to this choice?
A. It is always best if agreement can be reached that the family will respect the wishes of a person who chooses cremation, and will abide by that agreement after the death occurs. Discussion with a cremation counselor, funeral director, clergyman, chaplain, or other advisor may help with this decision. If agreement cannot be reached before death occurs, the person choosing cremation may decide to make plans for cremation despite the opposition. In this case, he should ensure that the will specifies the desire for cremation and that plans are on file, preferably prepaid with a cremation provider.