Being Cremated – The Inside Story on Being a Cremator Technician at a Crematorium

There is only one certain thing in life and that is when you are born you will eventually die, hopefully after a long life, but whatever the circumstances surrounding our passing once we are gone what happens next to our physical body is something that not everybody wants to think about. The fact is that the two main choices are to be cremated or buried depending on preference.

Perhaps you have given it some thought but feel a little awkward and are not sure where to go to find out the information that you want to know without feeling that people will judge you and think that you have a misplaced morbid curiosity.

Well, I can assure you that, that is not the case and whilst most folk are content to be happily ignorant and prefer not to know, for others the more information you have the better and can help you cope with what is to come. Because, whichever way you dress it up to think about death can be a sobering and frightening thought.

How Can I be So Sure?

As a cremator technician (I cremate people, not deal with the machinery when it needs attention) I can give you an insight into the cremation process which will hopefully ease any worries or concerns you may have (or give you the answers that you have been looking for) and give some comfort knowing that you will be well looked taken care of after you pass away.

I have been doing my job for several years and consider what I do a small (but just as important) part of the larger funeral process that starts when somebody dies. An awful lot happens before I get to play my role within this process and as a cremator technician what I do is very much out of the limelight and ceremony that a funeral service will normally include.

But (and I feel that this is a very important point) I cannot stress enough that you can be sure that you or your loved ones are treated with the utmost dignity and respect at all times and I consider it a privilege to do what my work entails.

After all, I am the last person to deal with anybody in their physical form and as such I like to think that anybody who passes through my hands has been cared for in the best way that I can. So, with this in mind what happens to you when you are cremated?

Dispelling Urban Myths About Cremation

Firstly, I think it is important to dispel a couple of commonly thought urban myths and although I am not sure of their origins or how they started it is surprising at just how many people believe them to be the case.

Urban myth 1 is that more than one coffin is cremated at a time. The cremators themselves are of a dimension that only allows for one coffin to be placed inside at a time and it so it is physically impossible to do more than that.

Urban myth number 2, bodies are taken out of the coffin to cremate them. By law I have to cremate the coffin and its contents as I receive it at the crematorium and as such I deal with a sealed unit that I have no need, wish or indeed right to tamper with.

Also, cremation itself involves the combustion process and although the subject of the fuel is an emotive one, the coffin itself is essential to help start the process in order to cremate ethically and correctly.

The Cremation Process itself

(Some People May Find This Slightly Distressing, so Please Continue Reading with Caution)

Once the funeral service has taken place my role then starts and does not finish from the moment I receive the coffin through to the point that I place the cremated remains safely into a suitable container (be it an urn, casket or a keepsake of some sort) at the end of the cremation process.

Each crematorium will be slightly different in as much as the mechanisms and cremators may not work in the same way but essentially what goes on inside the cremator is.

So, once the coffin is inside the main chamber it is subjected to temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Celsius and the actual process from start to finish takes approximately 1 hours as an average. Body weight, embalming and certain illnesses do play a part in longer or shorter cremation times.

During this cremation time everything is closely monitored and although a computer program runs things smoothly and efficiently, manual intervention is possible if needed.

What Happens After the Cremation Has Taken Place

Once the cremation has finished, you are left with the cremated remains that need to be cooled and processed into a more manageable size. You will find that most people commonly refer to this as ash although what you are in fact looking at is ground bone (more of which in a moment).

The cremated remains are raked down from the cremator into a hopper and air is passed over them until they have reached a temperature suitable for the next process to take place which involves the large piece of bone to be crushed by a machine into smaller pieces.

The process of crushing the bone is called cremulation and basically involves a machine with a rotating drum containing steel balls to facilitate this. Once ground, the remains are placed into your chosen container (as previously mentioned) when my job as a cremator technician is done.

Another very important point that I must stress is that of identification. At each stage throughout the cremation process each individual is accompanied by an identification card that stays with them at all times until it is finally placed with them inside their container.

A duplicate is placed on the outside of the container to ensure the continuity and positive identification at all times so there is no room for error or mistakes to mix people up, it is very simple and a very effective way of doing this.

Can Anyone Become a Cremator Technician?

My job itself is governed by a very strict code of ethics to ensure that dignity and respect is maintained at all times but, that aside I thinks that it takes a special kind of person to do what I do and I see myself in a caring role and treat everybody who I meet with the care and compassion that I think is rightly deserved.

Nobody really likes to think of their own mortality, much less about burial or cremation but to know that you are still looked after in death is a comfort I like to think.

Everyone that I deal with is especially important because they are somebody’s Mom, Dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle etc. And I for one never forget that.