Frazer Blog

Why Families Should Witness Cremation

by | Dec 29, 2016 | For Families, Funeral Profession

A woman walking outside wearing a black purse

Cremation is becoming more popular than burials.

Among other reasons for this, it’s more environmentally friendly than burial and allows for more creative and personal funerals. And with cremation increasing in popularity, being able to witness the cremation could help create a more meaningful experience for families.

Millennial funeral director Caitlin Doughty believes that people should witness and be more involved in the cremation process after she witnessed a family attend the cremation.

The family gathered around to watch their loved one get put into the cremation machine, and the oldest son pushed the button to send his father’s body into the machine. It opened her eyes to the involvement in the cremation process that many families are missing out on.

Here is a basic breakdown of what happens when witnessing a cremation:

Where It Happens

Funeral homes may have a viewing room with a window where families can watch the cremation process.

If a funeral home has a service do cremations at a different location, then witnessing the process may not be allowed.

Witnessing the Process

Some funeral homes may allow families to watch the full cremation process, or just when the body is placed in the retort.

The waiting time for families can vary, since cremation can last anywhere from an hour to five hours, depending on multiple factors such as body weight, type of casket, and how the cremation equipment functions.

Family members are presented with the ashes when the process is complete and can have them placed in an urn of their choice.

Some factors to consider when deciding on an urn are:

  • Design
  • Display location
  • Material/Size
  • Price

Why People Witness It

There are several different reasons why people may want to witness a cremation. People may witness cremation for religious purposes — some religions, such as Hinduism, have a family member to press the button on the cremation machine just like how the family also washes and prepares the body.

Witnessing the cremation also can provide closure for family members. It can comfort them being there for the process and seeing their loved one a final time, and reassure them that they will receive the ashes of their loved one.

What are your thoughts on witnessing cremation? Share them with us in the comments!


  1. Betsy

    I sent my dad off today. We said our final goodbyes in the retort room, I pushed the button after he was placed in the retort. It was so peaceful and spiritual. We sorted through pictures, cried, laughed and drank coffee while viewing the whole process. I would recommend seeing your loved one through until the end…we all experienced closure and a sense of calm. The process took approx 3 hrs.
    Betsy A
    In loving memory of my father, a beautiful soul. Edward 1944-2018

  2. E D Craggette-Wallman

    My only child passed away on 30 December—would you please tell me who provided your cremation service?

  3. Daphne Gilpin

    Thanks for explaining that some religions have family members push the button because it’s significant just like other steps in the death ritual. I’ve been trying to learn more about death ceremonies so I can make some decisions about what I want to have happen when my time comes. I hadn’t thought about the significance that religion might have for some people, so it was interesting to read about here.

  4. Millie Hue

    Thanks for helping me understand that it depends on the funeral home if they will allow the family to witness the process or not. I guess we need to ask first before choosing a funeral home since we wanted to see the process. We wanted to do so because we think that we are being with our beloved until the last moment that he is with us physically.

  5. Steele Honda

    I didn’t know that some funeral homes may allow families to watch the full cremation process, or just when the body is placed in the retort. I think that it would be interesting to see how retorts work. Thanks for pointing out why families should witness cremation.

  6. Gillian Babcock

    My cousin was diagnosed with a terminal disease and he asked to be cremated when he passes away. It was mentioned here that cremation is environmentally friendly and allows for more personal funerals. Moreover, it’s recommended to consult trusted funeral homes when looking for a crematory.

  7. Gillian Babcock

    My mom wants to be cremated because she doesn’t like the idea of being buried in when she passes away. It was explained here that when choosing an urn, she needs to consider the design and material. Furthermore, it’s recommended to consult experts when in need of cremation services.

  8. Sandra Patterson

    You make a great point about being able to witness the cremation being a way to have closure for family members. I can imagine that if a loved one of mine had passed, then I would want to be sure that it was really their ashes that I was getting. Even though I don’t think a cremation service would mix up something like that, I think it would still be really nice to know for sure.

  9. Ashley Johnosn

    I thought that it was interesting that you epxlained that some cremation facilities will allow the family to watch the cremation process. I would imagine that for some people, they would use this viewing process to help them fully mourn from their loss before moving on. I am interested in doing more research regarding the viewing of this process and learning about why people would watch it be done.

  10. Thomas Jameson

    It’s good to know that cremation is more environmentally friendly than a traditional burial and allows for more personalized funeral services. My grandma has been sick for a while now, and my family is sure that her time is coming. She loves nature and has always wanted to help the environment, so I’ll pass this informaiton along to her for her consideration.

  11. Eric Kuge

    Many people still have a preference for burial for religious or sentimental reasons, but if your priority is finding something that’s affordable, easy, and flexible – while still being meaningful – then cremation is likely to be your best choice.

  12. Dennis Sanchez

    I appreciate that you mentioned that people often witness cremation to provide closure on losing a loved one. Coping with the loss of a loved one can be hard and many people deal with it in different ways. I would say respecting how people cope is probably the most important thing someone could do.

  13. Ashley

    I liked that you said that one benefit of having a cremation service instead of a traditional funeral is that it allows being more creative and personal with how you honor your loved one. I have been thinking about pre-planning for my services after I pass away but I have not decided which method off burial to go with since they are both vary in your ability to celebrate that person’s life. I will be sure to consider pre-planning cremation services in order to give my family certain direction and creative freedom as to how where I would like to be placed after I die.

  14. Dylan Peterson

    It’s good to know that funeral homes often have a viewing room where families can watch the cremation process occur. My grandma passed away recently, and she wanted to be cremated so that we didn’t have to get her a grave and casket. We’ll be sure to look further into our options for viewing her cremation in the future.

  15. Stefan Bradley

    You make a good point when you mention how witnessing a cremation can provide a family with closure. My family is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that my uncle has passed away, and I would like to figure out how his funeral could help them move on. Cremation may be worth considering so that my family can accept that my uncle is no longer with us.

  16. Derek McDoogle

    I did not know that some funeral homes may allow families to watch the full cremation process. My dad told us that he would rather to be cremated instead of been buried. As hards as it can be, I would like to watch the process since that’s what my father asked us to do.

  17. Thomas Westgren

    It’s good to know that the amount of time necessary for your family to wait could be something like 5 hours. My dad is getting pretty old and asked us to start planning for things after he has passed away. Knowing how long a cremation takes is really nice because now we will be able to plan around that if he decides that he would like a cremation.

  18. Darrien Hansen

    Thanks for explaining how witnessing a cremation can help give your loved ones some closure. Ever since my aunt passed away, one of my cousins has been having a difficult time accepting her death since they use to see each other every weekend when he was younger. Maybe he would come to terms with my aunt’s death if he witnessed the cremation process.

  19. Mike Sanders

    It’s good to know that funeral homes often have a viewing window where you can watch the cremation process. My grandma has been telling me about how she wants to make sure that her remains are taken care of when she passes away. I’ll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for professionals who can help her with this.


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