There’s no absolutely fool-proof way to know you’re getting the right ashes unless you witness the cremation (some funeral homes and crematories allow this; others don’t). From time to time you will hear of multiple bodies being cremated together or ashes being mixed up, but that’s pretty rare. While there are dishonest people in the business, most funeral home and crematory operators make a concerted effort to do the right thing when it comes to cremation and returning the ashes.
Some questions to ask of a business:
- What’s your chain-of-custody process throughout the service?
- Do you cross-check paperwork and identity when retrieving a body or delivering it to a third-party crematory? What is the crematory’s own procedure?
- Are bodies tagged with wrist or ankle bands?
- Do you use a metal disc with a unique ID number that survives the cremation process?
Of course, it’s hard to know what’s happening behind closed doors, but I don’t think it’s worth much anxiety. Even if you get the wrong ashes you’re very likely never going to know.
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