To begin with, it is probably easier to describe what cremation isn't. Cremation is not the final disposition of the remains, nor is it a type of funeral service. Rather, it is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.
All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items are "swept" into the front of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan. All non-consumed items, like metal from clothing, hip joints, and bridge work, are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then placed into a processing machine to reduce the size of those bone fragments to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn selected by the family.
An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the cremated remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not selected, the cremated remains will be returned in a temporary cardboard container.
Today most religions allow cremation except for Orthodox Jewish, Islamic, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and a few fundamentalist Christian faiths. The Catholic Church accepts cremation as long as it is not chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teachings.
Nearly all Protestant Churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. If the family is planning on a memorial service, we encourage the cremated remains be present as it provides a focal point for the service.
Veterans benefits may be available for veterans’ families who pass away in a VA hospital, or a VA contracted health care facility. A government provided flag may also be available for the next of kin. Your funeral director can help you make arrangements for the cremated remains to be interred in a National Cemetery. The cemetery provides the grave, cost to open and close the grave, and the head stone. If the Veteran is not interred in a National Cemetery, they are still entitled to Military Honors, which may take place at another cemetery or place of service, such as a church. If cremated remains are buried in a non-military cemetery, the government issued head stone is still available.