How COVID-19 Changes Funeral Process: Bury or Cremate?

As you might have known we are currently in the middle of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and taking many lives in the process. Many lives has been taken by this deadly epipemic. But it does not stop there.

A person who dies carrying the COVID-19 virus is deemed to not have a proper burial due to safety reasons. Researchers have confirmed that even a dead person might be able to spread the virus through the skin to skin contact, which is inevitable in any type of funeral process.

However, this also leads to another funeral process that MIGHT be safer. Enter cremation.

This is the reason why more family members who are going to opt for this service to cremate a loved one, want to know exactly what cremation consists of, what the process is, the security measures that are taken and what effect it has on the environment.

Thanks to the Living Urn I was able to find more information about how cremation works and the process within it, here is what I learned:

Verification

The first step is to verify that the body matches the data of the deceased, a key step in which any funeral methods are very strict. The funeral home has a form and a database where:

  • Declarant data
  • Data of the deceased
  • Casket model was chosen by the family
  • How the body will be shrouded
  • Etc.

The deceased may be in the wake room, which is unique for the deceased, or in a cold room. The name appears on the door of the chamber and the body includes an identification plate for verification.

Farewell Preparation

Once the family has already chosen the coffin, the clothes previously indicated by the relatives for the departure of the deceased are collected and prepared for the departure.

The flowers that will be used in the cremation room maybe those that were in the wake room or, if the deceased has not been kept awake, those that are expressly ordered from the florist. In both cases, they will be taken to the room that, normally, is usually a funeral chapel.

Family Farewell

30 minutes before the cremation time, the family is permitted to enter, the process is explained to them and, in case they have not already chosen it, they are shown the available urns.

Family members are also informed about the deceased’s belongings and jewelry. They can choose, utilizing a signed document, if they want to recover them or include them in the incineration.

At this time the family can visually recognize the loved one for identity confirmation. It is optional but 80% of families do this step.

Finally, reading is made by the person officiating the farewell. This reading is customizable – choosing a poem, for example – and can be done by a family member.

Cremation Steps

First, the coffin goes from the chapel to the room where the oven is located on a stretcher and from this moment, the process can be followed through a screen.

Once the coffin has left the chapel and is in the crematorium room, the coffin is placed in an introducer; a lifting machine that introduces it into the oven removes the stretcher and closes the oven door.

The cremation oven starts up, reaching a temperature in the chamber of 750-850º that is maintained for 2 hours, the time the process lasts.

Subsequently, the ashes are cooled in an industrial saucepan for about 30 minutes.

After cooling, the ashes are passed to a second bucket where the cremation process is carried out, whereby the ashes are crushed with steel balls for 10 minutes to homogenize and crumble the ashes.

Finally, the ashes are poured into the urn chosen by the family. This ballot box, as established by current legislation, must be delivered closed and identified with the name of the deceased.

Together with the urn, the family will be given a cremation certificate – a kind of DNI of the ashes – which it is recommended to keep in case the relatives choose to keep the urn with the ashes.

The family will have a month to collect the urn with the ashes from the funeral home. When collecting them, the applicant’s documentation will be verified with that of the ashes. The delivery will be signed by the parties involved and the date, the person to whom the ashes are delivered and their destination will be indicated.