When it comes to saying our final goodbyes, the choices we make are deeply personal. Lately, there’s been a noticeable shift towards cremation, and it’s not hard to see why. It offers simplicity, flexibility, and, for many, a sense of peace. But did you know there’s more than one way to be cremated?

Yes, you heard that right. Beyond the traditional fire cremation that many of us are familiar with, water cremation, also known as aquamation, has emerged as a gentle, eco-friendly alternative.

Choosing between fire and water cremation isn’t just about ticking a box; it’s a decision that reflects your values, beliefs, and the legacy you wish to leave behind. It’s about considering the environmental impact, the cost, and how you envision your final farewell. And let’s be honest, making these decisions can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re navigating the complex world of end-of-life planning.

That’s where this guide comes in. Think of it as a friendly chat over coffee, where we’ll explore the ins and outs of both fire and water cremation. We’ll dive into what each process entails, the benefits and drawbacks, and the legal and financial considerations. Our goal? To arm you with the information you need to make a choice that feels right for you.

So, let’s get started. Whether you’re planning for yourself or a loved one, knowing your options is the first step toward making an informed, meaningful decision. And remember, this isn’t just about the end; it’s about honoring a life well-lived and ensuring a legacy that aligns with your deepest values.

Understanding Cremation

What is Cremation?

At its core, cremation is a method of final disposition of a body through burning. But there’s a twist in the tale – not all cremation involves flames.

Enter water cremation, also known as aquamation, which uses water and alkaline solutions to return the body to its basic elements. While fire cremation is what most people picture, water cremation offers a softer touch, using nature’s own elements to gently reduce the body to ashes.

Reasons for Choosing Cremation

Now, you might wonder, “Why would someone choose cremation?”

Environmental Concerns

Well, the reasons are as varied as the individuals themselves. For some, it’s about being kind to the planet. Water cremation, for instance, uses less energy and produces fewer carbon emissions than its fiery counterpart.


For others, it’s a matter of cost; cremation can be less expensive than a traditional burial, freeing families from financial stress during a difficult time.

Flexible Memorial or Funeral Service Planning

Then there’s the flexibility factor. Cremation, whether by fire or water, allows families to plan memorial services on their own timeline. Maybe you want to scatter the ashes in a place that was special to your loved one, or perhaps you’re thinking about turning them into a beautiful piece of memorial art.

The possibilities are as unique as your memories.

Detailed Comparison: Fire vs. Water Cremation

Fire Cremation

Fire cremation is what most of us are familiar with. It involves placing the body in a high-temperature furnace until it’s reduced to bone fragments. These are then processed into a finer ash.

It’s a process that has been practiced for centuries, offering a sense of tradition and closure for many families. It’s also worth noting that cremation, dating back to ancient Greece and gaining popularity in Great Britain during the Middle Ages, has long been seen as a way to return the body to the earth respectfully and efficiently.

Water Cremation (Aquamation)

On the flip side, water cremation is a newer method that mimics the natural decomposition process. It uses an alkaline solution to accelerate the breakdown of organic material, leaving behind bone ash and a sterile liquid. The result? A process that’s gentle on the earth and provides a different kind of comfort to those who choose it.

Making the choice between fire and water cremation isn’t just about the end result. It’s about aligning the process with your values, environmental concerns, and wishes for how you want to leave this world.

So, as we navigate this conversation together, remember that there’s no right or wrong choice here. It’s about what feels right for you and your loved ones.

And whatever you decide, know that you’re making a decision with thought, care, and consideration for the mark you want to leave on the world.

The Cremation Process: Step by Step

Whether you lean towards fire or water cremation, understanding what happens before, during, and after can demystify the process and ease some of the anxiety around making these decisions.

Before Cremation

First things first, let’s talk paperwork. It might not be the most thrilling topic, but it’s crucial. For both types of cremation, you’ll need to fill out some legal documents. These ensure that all procedures are above board and that your wishes are clear and legally recognized.

Choosing a provider is next on the list. Not all facilities offer both fire and water cremation, so you’ll need to do a bit of research. When making your choice, consider the provider’s reputation, the services they offer, and, of course, your budget.

During Cremation

Now, let’s peek behind the curtain at what happens during the cremation process. If you’ve chosen fire cremation, the body is placed in a cremation chamber where high heat reduces it to ashes. This process takes a few hours, and the remains are then processed into a fine powder.

Water cremation, on the other hand, involves placing the body in a solution of water and alkaline chemicals. Over a few hours, this gentle process breaks down the body, leaving behind bone fragments and a sterile liquid. The bones are then dried and processed into what we call ashes.

Both processes are carried out with the utmost respect and care for the deceased. Knowing the steps involved can provide some comfort, knowing that your loved one is treated with dignity throughout.

After Cremation

After the cremation, you receive your loved one’s ashes. This is where you can get creative with how you honor their memory.

Some families choose to keep the ashes in an urn, while others may scatter them in a meaningful location. There are also unique options, like turning the ashes into memorial jewelry or incorporating them into an ocean reef.

The choice is deeply personal and reflects the unique relationship you shared with your loved one. Whether you find solace in keeping them close in an urn on your mantle or you’re comforted by the thought of returning them to nature, what matters most is that it feels right to you.

Navigating the cremation process, from the paperwork to the final disposition of ashes, is a journey. It’s okay to have questions, to feel uncertain, and to take your time making these decisions.

Remember, this is about honoring a life lived and doing so in a way that aligns with your values and your loved one’s wishes. And whatever path you choose, know that it’s the love and memories that truly last forever.

Planning Your Cremation: Navigating the Details with Heart and Understanding

When the time comes to plan a cremation, the array of decisions and details can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re pre-planning for yourself or organizing for a loved one who has passed, understanding the nuances of the cremation process can bring a personal touch to a deeply significant moment.

Let’s walk through this journey together, focusing on the choices that make this farewell as meaningful as possible.

Discussing with Loved Ones

The decision to cremate often starts with a conversation. Many families find comfort in discussing wishes well before they’re needed, ensuring that everyone’s on the same page.

Whether you prefer a direct cremation with no funeral service or a full ceremony that celebrates a life well-lived, talking it through helps honor those wishes when the time comes.

Remember, it’s about what feels right for you and your family. If planning for a loved one, it’s also about honoring the legacy of the deceased.

Preplanning Your Cremation

Preplanning your cremation can be a gift to your family, sparing them from making tough decisions during a time of grief. You can decide on the type of cremation container, whether a simple urn or a wooden casket for a before-cremation memorial service.

You might also consider whether you’d like your ashes to be scattered on private property, kept in a family urn, or buried in a cemetery. Some even choose to have their cremated remains turned into memorial art, offering a unique way to remember a loved one.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Before the cremation process begins, certain legalities need addressing.

If you make a preplan by working with the funeral home to prepare, your family will have an easier time. A few phone calls and the funeral home directors can help your loved ones know exactly what you wanted and what, if anything, they need to do.

The cost of cremation services can vary widely, depending on choices like direct cremation, which occurs without a funeral service, or opting for a ceremony either before or after the cremation. Discussing these options with a funeral director can help you understand the services provided and their associated costs.

The Cremation Ceremony

For those who choose to have a memorial service, this ceremony can be a beautiful way to say goodbye. The service can take place before or after the cremation, in a funeral home, on crematorium grounds, or in a place that was special to your loved one.

This is a time for family and friends to come together, share memories, and celebrate the life of the deceased. Some families opt to have the urn present, while others may choose to display photographs or mementos that reflect the person’s passions and personality.

Final Disposition of the Cremated Remains

Deciding on the final resting place for your loved one’s cremated remains is a deeply personal choice. Whether it’s scattering the ashes in a meaningful location, burying them in a family plot at a cemetery, or placing the urn in a columbarium, there’s no wrong answer. 

Each option offers a way to honor the deceased while providing a place for family members to remember.

Myths vs. Facts: Demystifying Cremation

When it comes to cremation, there’s no shortage of myths and misconceptions floating around. It’s time to clear the air and shed some light on what cremation really involves.

By understanding the facts, you can make decisions that feel right for you and honor your loved one in a way that aligns with your values and their wishes.

Myth: Cremation Prevents a Memorial Service or Celebration of Life

Fact: Absolutely not! Whether you opt for direct traditional cremation or water cremation, you can still hold a memorial service that reflects the life and legacy of your loved one.

Many families choose to have a service before or after the cremation, providing a space for friends and family to come together, share memories, and celebrate the deceased’s life.

The flexibility of planning a memorial service, regardless of the cremation timeline, allows for flexibility in when you hold a service. This can give time for distant family to come and remember their loved one also, making the ceremony even more meaningful.

Myth: You Can’t Be Sure You’re Getting Your Loved One’s Ashes Back

Fact: Crematories operate with strict protocols to ensure the correct identification and handling of remains. The process is designed to ensure that you receive only your loved one’s cremated remains. This includes careful tracking and documentation from the moment the body arrives at the crematory until the ashes are returned to you.

However, also consider that some funeral homes offer direct cremation on-site with a special area for family to witness the cremation. Loved ones may be present at the time of cremation, providing further assurance and peace of mind.

Myth: Cremation is Impersonal

Fact: Cremation offers numerous ways to personalize the farewell and honor your loved one’s memory. It also allows you to create a preplan for yourself so that your loved ones know exactly how you wished them to celebrate. 

A preplan also helps the family grieve with other family members rather than planning non-stop and making difficult decisions.

From choosing a unique urn to flowers to deciding on the final disposition of the ashes, each planning step can reflect a decedent’s personality and preferences.

Whether it’s scattering the ashes in a place that was special, burying them in a family plot, or incorporating the ashes into a piece of memorial art, cremation allows for a range of personal touches that can make remembrance as unique as the person it honors.

Myth: Cremation Limits Your Options for Final Resting Places

Fact: On the contrary, cremation can actually expand your options for where to lay your loved one to rest.

Cremated remains can be:

  • Scattered in a meaningful location
  • Buried in a cemetery (you can purchase a smaller plot that is less expensive)
  • Kept in an urn at home
  • Placed in a columbarium
  • Used to create jewelry, precious stones, or colorful beads
  • Turned into part of a living reef in the ocean or even made into a music album!

The choice of final disposition is deeply personal and can reflect the wishes of the deceased and their family, offering a sense of closure and a unique way to memorialize their life.

Myth: Cremation is a Modern Practice

Fact: While cremation has gained popularity in recent years, it’s far from a modern invention.

The practice dates back to ancient times, with evidence of cremation ceremonies found in regions around the world, from Ancient Greece to Great Britain.

The method and traditions surrounding cremation have evolved over the centuries, but the essence of the practice—honoring the deceased by returning their remains to the earth through fire or water—remains unchanged.

Summing Up

Cremation, whether chosen for its simplicity, flexibility, or environmental benefits, offers a dignified way to say goodbye to a loved one.

By dispelling the myths and understanding the cremation process, families can make informed decisions that honor their loved ones in a way that truly reflects their lives and legacies. By understanding the process and knowing your options, you can create a farewell that truly reflects the life and legacy of your loved one.

Remember, the most important aspect of any end-of-life decision is the love and respect it conveys, ensuring that the memory of the deceased is cherished and preserved.

And creating a preplan for your own after-life care is a gift to your family so that they may grieve without the weight of making decisions weighing on their shoulders.

The journey through planning a cremation is as unique as the individual it honors. From the initial decision to the final disposition of the ashes, each step allows for personal expression and reflection.

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we understand that planning for the end of life is a deeply personal journey, one that reflects your unique life, values, and wishes.

Recognizing the importance of choice and personalization in these moments, we’re proud to offer comprehensive preplanning services that cater to every type of disposition preference, including:

  • Green burial
  • Traditional burial
  • Fire cremation
  • Water cremation

We also honor all traditions when it comes to creating services, including:

  • Military
  • Hindu
  • Buddhist
  • Jewish
  • Catholic and other Christian traditions
  • Other cultural or religious preferences

Our goal is to ensure that your farewell is exactly as you envision it, honoring your legacy in the most respectful way. Ours is the largest funeral home chapel in the greater Raleigh area, offering plenty of room for the type of services you and your family will find most meaningful. We also have an on-staff chaplain to help with ceremonies when needed.

Our Cremation Tribute Center Gives Families A Unique GoodBye

For those who choose fire cremation, our Cremation Tribute Center offers a unique opportunity. Here, families can participate in the cremation process, creating a personalized and intimate farewell.

This involvement can provide a sense of closure and peace, with loved ones playing a part in the final journey. It’s a profound way to say goodbye, surrounded by the comfort and support of our compassionate staff.

While the idea of participating in the cremation process may not be for everyone, for many, it offers a tangible connection to the farewell process, allowing for a deeply personal tribute.

Our facilities are designed with your comfort in mind, ensuring a serene and respectful environment for these final acts of love and remembrance.

Water Cremation: An Eco-Friendly Alternative

We also offer water cremation, a gentle and eco-friendly alternative to traditional fire cremation. This process, known as aquamation, uses water and alkaline solutions to return the body to its natural elements.

For those concerned about the environmental impact of their choices, water cremation presents a sustainable option that minimizes ecological footprint while still providing a dignified and respectful farewell.

Preplanning with Renaissance

Choosing to preplan your cremation with Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory means you’re taking a thoughtful and proactive step toward ensuring your final wishes are honored and your family, cared for.

Our preplanning services allow you to decide on every detail, from the type of cremation to the specifics of your memorial service, ensuring that your farewell reflects your life and values. Whether you’re drawn to the traditional warmth of fire cremation or the gentle sustainability of water cremation, we’re here to guide you through every decision.

Preplanning offers peace of mind to your loved ones, relieving them of the burden of making difficult decisions during a time of grief. By outlining your wishes ahead of time, you ensure that your farewell is exactly as you wish, allowing your family to focus on celebrating your life and legacy.

Respectful and Compassionate Service For EVERY Family We Work With

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we’re committed to providing personalized, compassionate service to those we serve. We are here to help you find the best ways to celebrate your loved one’s life. 

Whether you’re considering preplanning for yourself or navigating the loss of a loved one, we’re here to support you with dignity, respect, and understanding.

Let us help you create a lasting tribute that honors the unique individual you are, celebrating a life well-lived with the care and reverence it deserves.