Frequently Asked Questions

We have heard thousands of questions, and chosen to provide you with the answers to some of the more common questions relating to cremation and funerals.

What is cremation?

To begin with, it is probably easier to describe what cremation isn't. Cremation is not 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.

Is embalming required prior to cremation?

Absolutely not on non autopsied decedents. We have modern refrigeration facilities which negate the necessity for embalming. However, our policy requires the deceased to be embalmed prior to cremation if they have had an autopsy. This is necessary for the identification of the body by the responsible survivor.

Can the body be viewed without embalming?

Yes. We offer packages which allow immediate family members to view the deceased briefly prior to cremation in our private viewing room.

Is cremation accepted by all religions?

Today most religions allow cremation except for orthodox jewish, islamic, eastern 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. Some people believe that cremation is against the teachings of the bible, but according to one famous biblical scholar, "What occurs to the body after death has no bearing on the soul's resurrection. The body that rises is not made of the same substances as the one that was buried, or cremated, but is immortal and incorruptible."

Can an urn be brought into church?

Nearly all protestant churches allow for the urn to be present during the memorial service. The Diocese of Providence, which has jurisdiction over all Catholic churches in the state, also allows the cremated remains to be present during the memorial mass. In fact, 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.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

There are many options. remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered on private property. We also offer a coastal Rhode Island scattering service. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you and make any arrangements.

Are there any laws governing cremation?

Cremation regulations vary from state-to-state. In Rhode Island, there are several laws of which the consumer should be aware. First, there is a 24 hour waiting period from the time of death until the cremation can take place. Second, the deceased must be cremated in a suitable cremation container. Third, a cremation authorization form must be signed by the individual(s) legally authorized to make the cremation arrangements. Finally, cremation cannot take place until the approval has been obtained from the Rhode Island Medical Examiner.

Is cremation environmentally safe?

Yes. Studies have confirmed that the cremation process is more environmentally sound than the more expensive earth burial.

May I authorize my own cremation?

Yes. Rhode Island state law allows people who are pre-arranging and pre-paying for their services to specify how they would like their services conducted.

My children live out of state. Can I still use the Cremation Society of Rhode Island?

Yes, you can. Each year we perform arrangements for families of Rhode Island residents whose children or siblings live in other states. Families really appreciate this service because it allows them to return to rhode island having all the details of the service planned in advance.

What would happen if I prepaid my cremation and your society went out of business?

In the unlikely event that this occurred, you would be contacted by the State of Rhode Island asking where you would like your account transferred to. 

Must the services be pre-arranged?

No. We have many families call us at their time of need.  Via telephone, we are able to receive oral permission for the removal of the deceased and gather any information needed. Subsequently, written permission and contracts are completed. Our fees are payable at the arrangement conference.

I'm an organ donor. Can I still be cremated?

Yes. Only after your physician and hospital have completed the necessary procedures will we be able to proceed with the cremation.

Do people choose cremation only to save money?

While some people select cremation for economy, many choose this option for other reasons. The simplicity and dignity of cremation, environmental concerns, and the flexibility cremation affords in ceremony planning and final disposition all add to its increasing popularity.

Don't most funeral homes have a crematory?

Most funeral homes subcontract this delicate procedure out to a third party provider in another town where the funeral home has little or no control over the crematory's operating procedures. Often, the family incurs additional transportation expenses and needless delay. By contrast, we own our cremation equipment which is operated by our highly trained staff. Our cremation equipment is state-of-the-art and equals or exceeds every state and local operating standard and requirement.

How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?

We have developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of service. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process using a unique stainless steel id tag system.

How long does the actual cremation take?

It depends on the weight of the individual. For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees f to 2,000 degrees f.

What happens after the cremation is complete?

All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items are "swept out" of the the cremation chamber and into a 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 with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn, selected by the family.

Can two cremations be performed at once?

Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.

What do the cremated remains look like?

Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are off-white to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds.

Are all the cremated remains returned?

With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.

Do I have to purchase a casket for cremation?

No, a casket is not required for cremation. All that is required by state law is an alternative container constructed of fiberboard which is cremated with the body. Our cremation plans provide a suitable container for cremation.

Do I need an urn?

An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased through us, or provided by the family, the cremated remains will be returned in a plastic container.

Are there any special benefits for veterans?

We have a special program for veterans who pass away in a VA hospital or a VA contracted health care facility. All eligible veterans and their spouses are entitled to free burial space for their remains at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery or any VA national cemetery. Please contact us for individual circumstances. 

Is there any assistance for families on welfare?

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services provides benefits for deceased residents who are indigent or whose families cannot pay for their funerals. Currently the state's assistance for cremation is $1,050.

How do your service fees compare to a local funeral home?

A fair comparison reveals that the Cremation Society of Rhode Island service cost is far below the cost of the average traditional funeral. We are scaled and professionally organized for these type of services. Our cost accounting benefits from the fact that we own our own crematory and charge accordingly. (According to AARP conventional funerals average over $7,000)

If you have any additional questions, call us at 401-647-0620