Question: Does cremation happen before or after the funeral?
Answer: Both; which one depends on the family's or decedent's final wishes.
When Does Cremation Happen?
Typically, cremation happens between 2 and 15 days after death.
Cremation can occur before or after the funeral service.
Let's take a look at options for final wishes and how long the cremation process takes to help you determine what is best for your situation.
How Long After Death Is Cremation?
Laws vary by state and even county, but typically there is a minimum 24 or 48 hour wait before cremation can take place.
This means that cremation will happen, at the very least, about 2 days after death. If the body is refrigerated and/or embalmed, there can be a longer period of time before the cremation (or burial). One funeral director mentions a body that was preserved (embalmed and refrigerated) for six months while legal issues regarding disposition were resolved.
With that said, most families and most funeral home want the body to be cremated (or buried) relatively quickly. So the cremation typically takes place within a week or so of death.
Depending on a variety of factors including legal issues, direct cremation, whether the family wants the body or an urn at the funeral, where and when the funeral is held, and how busy the crematorium is, the cremation process may take 2-3 days and the entire time between death and the completed cremation may be 2-15 days.
How Long After Death Is a Funeral Held?
On average, the funeral is held about a week after death. See here for more information, including details about what day of the week and what time of day funerals are often held.
Cremation Before the Funeral
You can choose to have the body cremated soon after death (say, a week or less), and then plan the funeral afterwards.
This means that you can have the funeral with the cremated remains present, and it can be as soon as a week after death or as long as six months or even a year after death. It's up to you.
When cremation happens before the funeral, you may have more freedom to choose the best date for everyone to gather for a service. This can be beneficial especially when family members are out of state.
Plan on 1-2 days to make arrangements, then 2-3 days for cremation and to get the remains back. Work with the crematorium and/or your funeral director to schedule both the cremation and the funeral.
If you'd like the remains displayed at the funeral in a lovely permanent cremation urn, we suggest that you order the urn ahead of time so you don't need to worry about rush shipping and delivery.
However, if you do need expedited production and delivery, we're here to help. Contact us and we'll work with you to get the urn delivered to you when you need it.
Cremation After the Funeral
If you choose to have the cremation after the funeral, you'll have more time to select the urn of your choice.
Cremation after the funeral means that you can have the body present. Many families prefer this, as it feels a little more traditional.
Don't worry, the funeral home won't make you buy a casket for use during the service if your loved one will be cremated. You can rent a nice casket for the service, or it may be included in your package. Talk to the funeral director for specifics.
Then, after the service, the crematorium will take the body and begin the cremation process. Within a few days, you'll receive back the remains or "ashes" in a basic container of plastic or cardboard.
Inside this container, which is called a "temporary urn" but you can use it permanently if you want, the cremated remains will be secured in a plastic bag.
You can bring the permanent urn of your choice to the funeral home or crematorium, and they'll place the remains inside.
Shop our collection of premium cremation urns here.
Alternatively, you can take the container home and transfer the remains yourself when you have the permanent memorial urn.
It's pretty simple; since the ashes are already in a plastic bag, you just remove them from the temporary urn and put the entire bag into the permanent urn.
Here are some instructions, tips, and videos of how to open an urn.