Debunking Common Myths About Cremation

According to the Cremation Association, cremation accounted for 59% of all funerals in the United States in 2022, with projections suggesting that this number will rise to 65.2% by 2027. Yet, despite this rising popularity, there are still some myths and misconceptions related to this funeral practice that require debunking.

Debunking Common Myths About Cremation

Myth 1 – The Bible Forbids Cremation

While it’s true that some interpretations of Biblical texts suggest that cremation was often an exception to traditional burial methods, it’s not forbidden by the Bible. In fact, there are several references to cremation in Amos and Leviticus, in addition to the following in 1 Samuel 31:

“But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there.”

In this case, cremation occurred due to the horrors committed against Saul and his sons, though the simple fact that it’s mentioned may indicate the Bible’s position on cremation. There are some passages, such as Leviticus 20:14, that suggest that cremation was reserved for Israelites who had committed some form of transgression.

Myth 2 – Cremation Involves Visible Flames on a Body

This isn’t the case. Rather, the deceased’s body is usually placed into a casket and delivered into a furnace – called a retort – that reaches temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The casket is shielded from view while in the retort, allowing mourners to take a moment to reflect upon their loved ones as the process takes place. As for the retort, it uses a special combustion process, typically fueled by gas or propane, to complete the cremation process with no visible flames.

Myth 3 – You May Not Have a Traditional Funeral Service if You Choose Cremation

This simply isn’t the case. Many families undertake a traditional funeral service, following whichever customs apply to them, before transferring the deceased to a crematory. Others may prefer a memorial service conducted after the cremation. But in either case, opting for cremation doesn’t prevent you from holding a traditional service. In fact, you may see the cremation process as being equivalent to the lowering of a casket into the ground – part of the service rather than a replacement for it.

Hollywood Forever’s cremation services include options to hold a full service, including flower arrangements, music, or having doves released, all of which you can discuss with your funeral arranger.

Myth 4 – It’s Illegal to Scatter a Cremated Individual’s Ashes

A grain of truth lies behind this myth. For instance, most states require permission from the landowner before you scatter ashes. That’s not a problem if you scatter your loved one’s ashes at home – you are the landowner as long as you own the property – but it may create barriers if you wish to distribute your loved one’s ashes on land owned by somebody else.

There is no federal law that makes it illegal to scatter ashes. However, some regulations may apply at the state level, especially if you wish to scatter on state-owned property, meaning it’s always worthwhile to contact local authorities to confirm the legality of the action and obtain permission if required.

Myth 5 – You Could End Up With Somebody Else’s Ashes

Some mourners may worry about the possibility of somebody else’s ashes getting mixed with those of their loved ones. Thankfully, this is practically impossible due to how crematories handle the cremation process. Cremation providers go to great lengths to not only properly identify the person, but also to ensure that they carry out no simultaneous cremations that could result in mix-ups.

These techniques are often enshrined in the guidelines provided by the organizations that oversee cremations. For instance, many crematories are members of the International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (ICCFA), which has specific rules that bar the simultaneous cremation of two people in a single cremation chamber. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to research the credibility of your chosen crematory. Look for membership to organizations like the ICCFA if you’re uncertain.

Respectful Cremation Ceremonies at Hollywood Forever

Though many myths still surround cremation, the fact is that this funeral practice is often seen to be as dignified and respectful as any other. This is especially the case at Hollywood Forever, home to a 50-acre cemetery, including a crematory, where you can hold your ceremony. Contact our compassionate staff today if you wish to receive more information about the cemetery or what takes place during a cremation.


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