I have talked about this before, but I am asked quite often about cremation societies. As someone recently asked, “what are they and is there a benefit from using one?” Well, I would never say to not use one, as I am not personally familiar with all of them. However, I know of a few that I would absolutely advise you to avoid at all costs.
First, here is what they are. An individual, maybe licensed, maybe not, decides to open up a storefront business offering cremation. As part of a marketing campaign, they decide it might sound unique to call their business a cremation society. While they offer cremation services, they do not actually own their own crematory (or retort) where the actual cremation takes place. They often accept bids from outside crematories and pick the lowest bidder. A few locations like this hire an independent person, someone with a van, to make the removals (pick up your loved one) from the place of death. This person will act as if they are an actual employee of the cremation society. Your loved one may or may not actually ever be taken to the storefront business.
Whenever you make arrangements at the storefront, the business representative will probably not tell you that they do not own their own crematory. I would go so far and say that you will never know that the storefront representative will never see your loved one. I have heard of one independent contractor who, after making the removal, will transport the body more than 100 miles to a third-party crematory. The body will be stored there, until cremation documentation arrives.
So, should you use a cremation society? Well, that is a decision that only you can make. However, as I always point out, education is very important. Ask questions, especially about the use of third-party contractors and crematories. You should always ask.
- Is the owner of the facility a licensed funeral director?
- Do they own their own crematory?
- What are their guidelines for chain-of-custody of the body?
- Where will your loved one be taken?
- Does the off-site location offer refrigeration?
- Has the storefront owner actually visited the outside crematory?
- How can they be certain the correct cremated remains are returned?