Well, you’ve read the title and you know we’re not leaving with the happiest top, but I’m going to try to make it all a little bit fun because after all, as they say, death is part of life. blah blah blah. Zé partiiii!
Incineration, or cremation (it’s the same), you normally know what it is in broad outline: the bodies of the deceased are burned to recover the ashes. It is one of the alternatives to burial, which consists of burying the bodies. But no matter how well you know that, you surely don’t know the details, nor all the rules, and it might tickle you to know more. This is where I come in to answer all your questions and even those that you did not ask yourself.
1. Many people choose cremation?
Yes, a lot, and even more and more in France. In 1890, only 1% of the population chose to end up cremated, compared to 59% today. This is partly due to the decline in the influence of the Church, which previously prohibited cremation. But even the Church doesn’t give a damn now, so believers too are increasingly choosing to go up in flames. In short, 59% isn’t bad, but it’s still not much compared to countries like Denmark or Switzerland, which hit 80%.
2. How much does it cost?
Well, the bad news is, whatever your choice between burial and cremation, you’re going to screw up. Finally you, or your loved ones, it depends. On average (yes, on average because there are always lots of options) it will be around 4,300€ for a burial and 3,800€ for a cremation. Afterwards, the prices vary according to the regions and the companies, but that already gives an idea. What you have to remember is that it’s not much cheaper to choose cremation, among other things because you still have to buy a coffin and rent a hearse with pallbearers. It’s not given all that.
And regarding the preservation of the ashes, if you want to put them in a colombarium box in the cemetery (a place where we store all the funeral urns), the prices vary according to the place. In Paris, it will be 2500 balls for 30 years, while in Lille we will be around 500 balls for the same period. We are not on the same budget at all. And then there is always the scattering of the ashes in a garden provided for this purpose, or the burial of the ashes in a private property, which is less expensive.
3. And can’t we just keep the ashes at home on the dresser like we see in the movies?
No. In France, it has been banned since 2008. You cannot leave the urn prominently in its vase on the piano or in the library. That’s a shame.
4. And the dispersion of ashes in nature, is it possible?
Many people want their ashes to be scattered in nature, in the forest, on a beach or at the top of a mountain and not in a communal “garden of remembrance”. Only, it is more complicated. Depending on the location, you must either make a declaration to the town hall or obtain authorization from the prefecture (and have the agreement of the owner if it is in a private space). Afterwards, there are also places where it is totally forbidden, such as rivers, rivers or the underpants of your worst enemy. Just in case you were wondering.
5. Concretely, it is necessary to heat to what temperature to burn a body?
The coffin is placed in a “crematist oven” which heats to 850°C for about 1h30. It would be way too hot and way too long to cook your lasagna, but that’s what it takes to turn a body into ashes.
6. And even more concretely, everything really ends in ashes?
Well no, imagine. Metal objects such as fillings, dentures or other dental crowns do not burn very well, so they do not disappear at the time of cremation. On the side of the bones, there may also remain fragments which must then be ground into a fine powder. Then we resell them to people who practice alternative medicine and who make miraculous concoctions (no, that’s obviously not true).
7. So what do we do with fillings, prostheses etc?
If you thought you could get that back, it’s niet (or “no”, in good French). All these little things are handed over to companies that recover the precious metals and resell them for industrial use, or that recondition the prostheses. Yeah, even death is a business.
8. Is cremation green?
You hoped to be able to leave this planet with a carbon footprint not too high? So maybe avoid cremation. It would be 3.6 times more polluting than burial, which itself is already a little polluting since the waste from the human body ends up soiling the earth and infiltrating the soil. It’s actually boring, you can’t both die and be green.
9. There is an eco-friendly alternative, isn’t there?
Ok, if you insist on it, yes, there is another alternative to make a body disappear in an ecological way: aquamation. The technique consists of placing the body in a bath made up of water heated with potassium and sodium so that it dissolves in 5 to 10 hours. It’s cooler for the planet, but the practice only exists in the United States and Canada for now. No bowl for the greens.
10. Can we ask to broadcast “Lighting the Fire” at full volume during the cremation?
With funding, it should be possible.
To stay in the same good atmosphere, I advise you to leave immediately on this top of the answers to the questions that arise on the funeral directors, so that you will have gone around the question.
Sources: Le Parisien, Death-info, Dossierfamilial, public-service, Granimond, women’s newspaper, La Dépêche, Happyend,