Cremation is a method of disposing of the body which serves as an alternative to traditional burial in a coffin or casket. In a cremation container, the remains are incinerated in an industrial furnace (called a cremation chamber) and reduced to basic chemical compounds – gasses, ash and mineral fragments, which are known as cremains.
The time spent waiting between a loved one’s death and the return of their ashes can be painful. Often, we see cremation as the moment a person is properly ‘laid to rest’.
Making final arrangements is a very personal choice that is either prearranged by the deceased prior to his or her death, or chosen by the next-of-kin if no pre-arrangement has been made.
Some of the common reasons people choosing cremation are:
- Lower costs
- Better for the environment
- Fear of burial/natural decomposition
- Simpler arrangements
- Flexible service options
Cremation is not a substitution for funeral service or memorial service. It’s just one method of body disposal that has regained popularity in recent years. When it comes to commemorative experience, choosing cremation will actually increase the options and make the preparation of a service much less difficult, as there will be more flexibility for a distant family to make travel plans.
What happens at a cremation?
The coffin is taken to the service location and placed on a raised platform
The funeral service may be held in a special dedicated room in the crematorium itself, or in a separate hall or religious building (such as a village hall, church or chapel).
Guests gather at the location for the service
It’s important to arrive on time, as cremation services are usually held to a tight schedule.
Cremation services are usually around 30 minutes long, although families can book more time (usually for an additional fee). You may be given an order of service that will tell you what is going to happen at the cremation service, as well as the details of any songs, prayers and readings.
The committal begins
At the end of the service, the coffin is taken out of the room to start the cremation process. If the service takes place at the crematorium, the curtains may move across the coffin, or they may be lowered to the floor and out of sight.
The celebrant or funeral director would usually show the guests the way out. There is usually a possibility at this point to see the flowers that have been donated and to express condolences to the family.
There’s often a wake after the funeral service. This is a reception at which food and drinks are served. Here, guests can talk and share their memories of the person who has died.
How long does a cremation service last?
The typical cremation service period at the crematorium is 30 minutes. In fact, when you take into account the time taken by the guests to arrive, settle down and leave, that works out for about 20 minutes of speaking time.
If you feel that the service will take longer (ask your minister or celebrant to be sure), you can ask the crematorium if you can book two slots. This often costs a little more, but it can help you keep the service from feeling rushed
Popularity of cremation in Malaysia
The popularity of cremation has grown over the past few decades due to soaring land prices, the preference of individuals to utilize land resources more efficiently, and to allow more flexibility in funeral services.
Cremation is most popular among Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities.