A woman standing outside with a coat and scarf


Written by Jenny Goldade


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!