When death occurs and cremation has been chosen, a member of the family or a caregiver will call Missouri Cremation Services. The Society will maintain a 24-hour telephone answering service for this purpose. The licensed director who responds to the call will determine whether the deceased is to be removed from the place of death and whether there will be a delay to allow time for a family gathering and prayers.
Missouri Cremation Services requires that the next of kin positively identify the deceased prior to cremation. The next of kin, however, can waive the positive identification. When removal occurs, the deceased will be taken to the crematory and after identification is secured to the body, it is placed in refrigerated storage. Missouri law states that a body must be buried, embalmed or cremated within 24 hours of death.
During this 24-hour period we will gather obituary and vital information for the medical examiner's cremation permit and the death certificate. Missouri Cremation Services will assist in placement of obituaries, filing of death certificates and notifying Social Security of the death.
If one chooses cremation, no casket is required. By law, the survivors have the option of purchasing an "alternative container" (made of heavy cardboard or composition materials), or providing one themselves. If the family wants to have a funeral with the body present they will rent or purchase a casket.
An urn is a container to hold the cremains. Urns come in a variety of materials and vary greatly in price. The cremated body may be kept by the family, buried in a cemetery, placed in a columbarium (a building with walls of recessed niches for permanent memorialization), or scattered on land or at sea. Most families select a form of memorialization with their cemetery of choice.
Human beings have always marked death with ceremony as a means of honoring the dead, respecting the grief-stricken, and acknowledging the loss of a loved one. Many social psychologists see commemorative ceremony as necessary to the healing process after loss has occurred.
Different cultures and traditions mark death in widely varying ways. Some people celebrate, examples: the New Orleans jazz funeral, the Irish Wake. Some set aside a defined period of time in which to mourn, such as the Jewish custom of "sitting shiva". Other cultures and religions observe special ceremonies like the Buddhist practice of forty-nine days of prayer between death and rebirth.
The inclination of our culture toward a more secular approach to ritual and ceremony has led to a decrease in some of the more traditional orthodox practices of mourning. However, grief and bereavement counselors, and those professionals who deal with death and dying, find that the lack of ceremony can have detrimental effects on those left behind. It is clearly important and helpful to survivors to have some form of commemoration or ritual that marks the fact of death, publicly acknowledges their loss, and provides the opportunity for support and comfort.
The three most common types of ceremony are: