What to consider before choosing cremation

DENVER -- Blake Monheiser shares the grief his family endures after losing his grandmother Shirley.

“We would all love to pick up the phone and talk to her, but unfortunately, Heaven doesn’t have visiting hours," Monheiser said.

Monheiser had his grandmother's remains cremated, but says the funeral home later contacted him because they wanted to verify that he had received the ashes that belonged to his grandmother.

"'Where’s my loved one?' is what it comes down to. Where’s my Grandma? who has my Grandma?” he said.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers visited the funeral home and spoke to top management. They explained that they wanted to be certain a mix-up had not occurred out of a sense of professionalism. They say their investigation found that Monheiser was indeed given the correct package of ashes.

"We’re happy that we know it’s Grandma," Monheiser said.

More people are choosing to cremate their lost loved ones instead of burying them. In fact, more than half of all funerals now involve cremated remains, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

The Cremation Society of Colorado said to avoid devastating mistakes, anyone having a loved one cremated should ask the funeral home to provide the identification number that appears on the metal tag attached to the ashes and make sure it matches the ID number on their paperwork.

The association issued this statement to FOX31 outlining the following guidelines for consumers:

-Colorado law does not require licensing or training to operate a cremation business or a crematory. There are no inspections or regulatory oversight.

-Many cremation providers rely on third-party contractors to transfer, hold, and cremate the deceased. Most people assume the cremation company is handling everything, but in many cases they never come into contact with the deceased until they pick up the cremated remains. These companies that claim to offer cremation services can work out of their homes and cars. They don’t offer an opportunity to view or even identify the deceased because they have no facilities.

-Some cremation providers (like ourselves) utilize their own staff to transfer the deceased, hold in their own refrigeration facility, can offer onsite pre-cremation viewing or identification, and operate their own crematory. The deceased never leaves their care and there is clear accountability for the cremation to be done properly.

-We utilize a multi-step process that requires the review of two people before the cremation takes place. This helps ensure the identity of the deceased is established and the cremation is authorized by the person(s) with the highest legal standing.

-Check online reviews of cremation companies and their reputation for professional service.

-Consumers considering cremation should ask:

A.           Who owns the crematory?

B.           Where is it located?

C.           May I view my loved one?

D.           Are family members allowed to be present for the start of the cremation?

For more information visit the Cremation Society of Colorado's website. 

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