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What does "cremation" mean?

Say it: Kree-MAY-shun

A way of turning a dead body into a soft ash.

You may hear someone say, "My granddad always told us he wanted his body cremated."

The body is taken very carefully to a special room. This is not like any room you have in your house. There is a special heat in this tiny room, not like any heat in a fireplace or in a furnace. This heat is so hot it slowly dissolves the body.

When the cremation is finished, what is left of the body is a soft ash. The person caring for the body gently collects the ashes. The ashes are put into a special machine. The machine makes them even smaller. Now the ashes really look like ground-up seashells or very coarse or chunky sand.

This is done in a place called a CREMATORY (KREE-mah-tor-ee) or CREMATORIUM (kree-MAH-tor-ee-um). These places are made just to turn bodies into ash.

The ashes are placed in a jar called an URN (err-n). The ashes are called CREMAINS (kree-may-ns) or CREMATED REMAINS (kree-MAY-ted re-may-ns).

Remember, when people are dead, they can't feel anything. They cannot feel the heat.

We have had cremation for thousands of years. Today, more and more people are choosing cremation. All bodies finally return to the good earth. Cremation is just one way to make than happen faster.

Your family will have a special place for the urn and the ashes.

Maybe you can see the urn and ask more questions.

Your family can do many very nice things with the ashes.

Some people scatter the ashes over a favorite place.

Some people bury the urn or keep it in a special place at the cemetery.

Some people keep a tiny bit of the ashes in a locket or in a tiny box.

Tell Me, Papa by Joy and Dr. Marvin Johnson

From What Does That Mean? A Dictionary of Death, Dying, and Grief Terms for Grieving Children and Those Who Love Them by Harold Ivan Smith and Joy Johnson, www.centering.org

Suggested questions for future editions can be sent to goodmourning@archildrens.org (please put "Taking Questions" in the subject line).

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