What If Your Family Disagrees With Your Decision to Be Cremated?

When it comes time to decide on your final wishes and how you want your life celebration to be conducted, the choice between Cremation and Burial will most likely be one that you will need to make. There are pros and cons to each and for each of us it is a personal choice that depends on a range of factors such as your faith, belief, personal views, budget and what you feel is the best option for you. Regardless of your motivation for choosing Cremation or Burial, it is important that your family and the people who will be arranging your funeral service, understand your wishes and that you leave them clearly stated in writing.  

What is a Cremation?

In Crematoriums throughout Australia, facilities use industrial furnaces called a Cremator.  The process of Cremation takes between 1-3 hours depending on the size of the person being cremated, their physicality, and what their coffin is made of.  Throughout the process, the Crematorium will ensure that the person being cremated is handled with the utmost respect, dignity, and care.  In Queensland, it is a requirement for a person to be in a coffin for the cremation.  This does not mean that you need to be in a fancy coffin, you can be in a simple cardboard coffin, or you can be in a lavish wooden casket, depending on your wishes and what was selected during the arrangement. However, a wooden coffin will provide more fuel to a cremator and can make the entire process a little quicker, whereas a cardboard coffin does not provide any additional fuel meaning that the process can take a little longer and uses more raw energy in the long run.  So, whilst people may think that they are being environmentally friendly in using a cardboard coffin, the additional energy and fuel needs make it much of a muchness in comparison to a wooden coffin.  

What is the Cremation Process? 

Cremation reduces the body to its essential elements through a process that exposes it to open flames, intense heat, and evaporation. This occurs in a cremator at an approved crematorium. 

The cremated remains are called “Cremains”, however are commonly referred to as “Ashes”.  In reality,  Cremains primarily consist of bone fragments that are mixed with any cremated remains of the coffin and other incidental by-products of the cremation.  Following cremation, there are generally between 3-5kgs of cremains, however this depends on the size of the person and the process used by the Crematorium.  

Following the cremation, a magnet is used to remove any metal fragments, these are usually then sent off to be recycled, or in some circumstances the family request these be returned to them. Then the remaining cremains are processed using a cremulator. This is a machine that reduces the cremated fragments into a fine sand like texture that are then returned to the family, interred in a niche or plot, or scattered, depending on the final wishes of the family and the deceased.  

An interesting fact about cremation is that it most likely began during the early Stone Age – around 3000 B.C. – and most likely in Europe and the Near East. During the late Stone Age cremation began to spread across northern Europe, as evidenced by particularly informative finds of decorative pottery urns in western Russia among the Slavic peoples. Whilst the process and equipment used today is far more sophisticated and technological, the essence of cremation is still exactly the same.  

What is a Cremation Objection?

In QLD, the Cremations Act (2003) allows for a Spouse, Adult Child, Parent, or Personal Representative of the Deceased, to object to a cremation taking place.  Whilst this is uncommon and does not occur very often, it is something that needs to be considered when thinking about your decision between Cremation or Burial.  

When a person makes an objection to a cremation taking place, the Independent Doctor that would normally issue a Cremation Permit, is prevented from doing so until such time that authorization is given.  This usually involves discussions with the Coroner and can escalate to a Magistrate and even legal proceedings in some cases.  

How Can I Make Sure I am Cremated When I Die? 

Whilst people can raise a cremation objection, a simple way to prevent this from occurring is to ensure that your wishes are clearly stated and signed as part of your Last Will and Testament.  When you leave clearly written and signed instructions on what is to happen to you when you pass away, the ability to make an objection to a cremation taking place, is no longer available and the cremation can go ahead as planned.  

This might take care of the legalities around your cremation taking place; however, it does not address the distress, pain, and grief that it might cause your family and friends if they don’t understand your wishes clearly.  So, there is a range of ways that you can address this before the time comes and someone in your family decides they do not agree with your body being cremated.  

How Do I Talk To My Family About My Wishes? 

It is not always easy to know how to talk about dying. Awkwardness, embarrassment, and fear means we tend to shy away from connecting with those who are dying or those who are grieving.  We are taught that Death is something to fear, a finality that causes much pain and distress, however, when we avoid having these important discussions with our family, we lose the opportunity to make our wishes clear.  

When you begin to have these discussions, you can start with some simple facts about what you would like to occur following your passing.  These simple conversations often lead to a more meaningful discussion that organically flows and brings some understanding to all involved.  It also relieves some of the pressure of someone having to make these decisions for you when the time comes.  If you have made a clear decision on Burial or Cremation and have expressed these wishes, included them in your Will, you are ultimately removing any potential conflict, distress, and confusion about your wishes for your family.  This is a wonderful gift to leave for those that you love.  

What If I Want To Plan My Own Funeral Arrangements? 

Pre-Planning your funeral arrangements is one of the best things that you can do for you family, again this removes the burden, stress and pressure of making important decisions on your after death care and it brings some comfort to your family by being able to arrange your funeral service in the exact way you want it to be conducted. 

My Funeral Plan Kit

Pre-Planning your funeral is a simple process to do.  We have dedicated members of our team that specialize in pre-planning and they can assist you to complete this process in the comfort of your own home.  Or if you want something a little less formal, but still want to make your wishes clearly known, you can download our My Funeral Plan Kit and complete this at your own leisure.   If you do decide to complete this kit, it is always a great idea to provide a copy to your funeral director and to keep a copy of this kit with your Will so that it is readily on hand.  Also remember to tell your family where these important documents are so they can be easily accessed when they are needed.  

Most importantly, When choosing who to plan with, take the time to get to know the company and trust your instincts when deciding who will care for you and your family in the best possible way.

Thinking about pre-planning or pre-paying for your future funeral needs? Why not get in touch with us today for an obligation free consultation? Call us on 1300 043 522.


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