Frequently Asked Questions
We have heard thousands of questions, and chosen to provide you with the answers to some of the more common questions relating to cremation, the VCS standard and what makes us different.
QUESTIONS ABOUT VCS
How can you provide a complete package of service at such a low price?
We rely on you to do some of the work that a funeral director would normally do. Completion of the paper work specifically. The forms are computer generated saving a significant amount of time. By keeping the VCS Direct Cremation package standard it allows us to keep in stock only those items that will be needed to provide that service to you.
The package includes:
- Coming to the home or hospital to take the deceased into our care
- Completion of all paper work for the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Obtaining the Doctors signature on the death certificate and filing it
- Arranging and paying for the visit by the medical examiner to our facility ($50 Medical Examiner Fee included in package price)
- Completion of the cremation process
- Placing the cremains into a temporary container or urn if you purchase one
- Obituary placed on line on vacremationservice.com and shared to Facebook and Twitter
- Hold the cremated remains for pick up at our office in Fredericksburg
- Returning the cremated remains to you via USPS ($75 charge not included, but available to add through the system)
- Total cost is $1095 or $995, if you have paid the $35 membership fee
- Veterans Package
Includes all of the above items plus no cost shipping to a Veterans Cemetery. Included will be an American Flag for inurnment or burial.
Why should I make pre-arrangements?
By making prearrangement and paying the $35 fee we will have on file all the necessary information to proceed. We will be prepared to move ahead quickly with authorization forms. It also reduces the price by $100. Simply click on the plan ahead button and complete the forms. Pre-arrangements must be made at least 48 hours prior to death in order to secure the discount.
What should I do if a death occurs at home?
When death occurs, Virginia Cremation Services personnel are available to assist you at any hour, seven days a week. Please call (540) 891-6272 or 888-425-5226 for assistance. If the death has occurred out of hospital care or hospice care the local authorities need to be notified. If you haven’t made pre arrangements we would ask you to go to our web site and complete the arrangement forms by clicking on “A Death has Occurred”
Will someone come right away?
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If your family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say goodbye, this is acceptable. Our staff will come when the time is right for you.
What should I do if a death occurs at a hospital or Nursing home?
Please call 540-891-6272 or 888-425-5226 for assistance. Our staff will come to the nursing or hospital as soon as the facility has released your loved one to us.
How do I notify you that a death has occurred?
Call the 888-425-5226 or 540-891-6272. The phone numbers are also listed on the cards you will received when you made pre-planned arrangements or become a member.
Can the family witness the cremation?
It is required that you make positive identification of the deceased either by photograph or at the place of death, when we take your loved one into our care. We will take care of having the death certificate signed by the doctor the patient was under care of at the time of death. We will notify the Medical Examiner and have him certify that the cremation is authorized. These steps can take a varying amount of time due to the response time of the individuals concerned. Normally they can be completed within five to ten business days.
About death certificates
Often times banks, State offices and insurance companies require certified copies of death certificates to enact business. When complete and signed by the family doctor it is filed with the health department in the County where the death occurred. You may order as many copies as you think you need at $12 per copy. We will file them with the local health department and mail them to you, if desired. Your other option is to go to the health department and pick them up and pay for them yourself.
What is cremation?
To begin with, it is probably easier to describe what cremation isn't. Cremation is not final disposition of the remains, nor is it some type of funeral service. Rather, it is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.
How long does the actual cremation take?
It depends on the weight of the individual. For an average size adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal operating temperature between 1,500 degrees F to 2,000 degrees F.
Is a casket required for the cremation?
No but the Commonwealth of Virginia does require a minimal container that is included in the VCS Cremation Package price. ($100 value)
What happens after the cremation is complete?
All organic bone fragments, which are very brittle, as well as non-consumed metal items, are "swept" into the front of the cremation chamber and into a stainless steel cooling pan. All non-consumed items, like metal from clothing, hip joints, and bridge work, are separated from the cremated remains. This separation is accomplished through visual inspection as well as using a strong magnet for smaller and minute metallic objects. Items such as dental gold and silver are non-recoverable and are commingled in with the cremated remains. Remaining bone fragments are then processed in a machine to a consistent size and placed into a temporary or permanent urn, selected by the family.
What do the cremated remains look like?
Cremated remains resemble coarse sand and are whitish to light grey in color. The remains of an average size adult usually weigh between four to eight pounds of cremated remains.
In what kind of container are the cremated remains returned?
The cremated remains are placed in a temporary shipping box at no charge to you. Or they may be placed in the urn of your choice from our selection of urns that will be made available for purchase during the arrangement process.
Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are given back to the family.
Can I hold a memorial service?
Yes. A memorial service can be held anywhere, your family church, your home, sea side, bar or anywhere of your choosing. We have the supplies needed to do so, including a register book and memorial folders. These items are options that you may choose from during the arrangement process. Memorial Services provide surviving family members and friends a caring, supportive environment in which to recognize the death of a loved one and to share thoughts and feelings about that person. It is the first step in the healing process.
The ritual of attending a memorial service provides many benefits including:
- Providing a social support system for the bereaved
- Helping the bereaved understand death is final and part of life
- Integrating the bereaved back into the community
- Easing the transition to a new life after the death of a loved one
- Providing a safe haven for embracing and expressing pain
- Reaffirming one's relationship with the person who died
- Providing a time to say good-bye
What can be done with the cremated remains?
Commonly, cremated remains are placed in an urn and committed to an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium, interred in a family burial plot, or included in a special urn garden. Cremation also gives families the option to scatter the remains. This can be done in a designated cemetery garden or at a place that was special to the person. Today, cremated remains can even become part of an ocean reef, rocketed in space or made into diamonds. Remains can be buried in a cemetery lot or cremation garden, inurned in a columbarium, kept at home, or scattered on private property. We can arrange for scattering from the air or at sea if you wish. Our staff will be happy to discuss these options with you and make any arrangements.
Are there any laws governing cremation?
Cremation regulations vary from state-to-state. Our crematory complies or exceeds the regulations of the State of Virginia.
Can two cremations be performed at once?
Never. Not only is it illegal to do so, most modern cremation chambers (including ours) are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. Thus it would be a practical impossibility to conduct multiple cremations simultaneously.
How can I be sure I receive the correct remains?
We have developed the most rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of quality and minimize the potential for human error. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process. We only allow certified professionals to operate our cremation equipment.
Do I need an urn?
An urn is not required by law. However, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the cremated remains are to be interred in a cemetery or kept at home. We will return the ashes in standard shipping container. You may choose to upgrade the urn while doing your arrangements.
Is embalming required prior to cremation?
Absolutely not and it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you otherwise.
Where can I get more information on cremation?
We can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral or memorial service with a cremation. For a technical definition of the cremation process, we encourage you to view cremation information online at the National Funeral Directors Association.
What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Funeral service is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer-guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, call 708-827-6337 or 800-662-7666).
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
As more people are choosing cremation, funeral service professionals are striving to give consumers a true sense of what their many options are for a funeral service. Often funeral directors find that people have a preconception that they have fewer choices for a ceremony when selecting cremation for themselves or a loved one. Therefore, they request direct cremation and deny the surviving friends and family the opportunity to honor them with a memorial service. In actuality, cremation is only part of the commemorative experience. In fact, cremation can actually increase your options when planning a funeral. Cremation gives people the flexibility to search for types of tributes that reflect the life being honored. But, this doesn't mean that aspects of traditional funeral services have to be discarded. Even with cremation, a meaningful memorial that is personalized to reflect the life of the deceased could include:
- A visitation prior to the service
- An open or closed casket
- Use of a rental casket
- Special music
- A ceremony at the funeral chapel, your place of worship, or other special location
- Participation by friends and family
*Arrangements for a full funeral can be made at our sister company at reasonable cost.
The $35 fee paid for VCS Membership ensures that your records are kept until a death occurs. Membership must be paid at least 48 hours in advance of a death occurring. You may access your information at any time to make changes in your arrangements. The current price for the cremation package is subject to change at any time due to increased costs beyond our control. If you have prepaid the $35 for prearranging a VCS Direct Cremation package, the total cost of the services will be reduced by $100. Payment must be made in full before the cremation takes place. If you choose to have the cremains mailed to you, VCS will not be responsible for the loss or damage after the package is accepted by USPS or other carriers.