Cremated Remains… Ashes… People Dust…

The terminology for a cremated person can vary in our industry. You’ll notice that I tend to say “cremated remains” instead of “ashes” or *shudder* “cremains.” That last one just creeps me out, no one should ever say cremains. It sounds like the laziest form of tongue gymnastics.

Most people who are not in deathcare tend to use “ashes” because they don’t know anything else. That’s totally okay, we don’t know what we don’t know. My opinion, and this is just my personal opinion if you ask 50 FDs this same question they’ll respond 50 different ways, is that the only time it is okay to say “ashes” with a family is if they continually use it. If you’re meeting with a family and they use the term “ashes” then you use “cremated remains” once, but if they continually use “ashes” after they’ve heard you referring to them differently then just use their terminology. This is like that person who is constantly pointing out people’s spelling errors, we get it, you know words. It is important that we meet families where they are and are able to use common language. When we can do that, we can establish trust and meaning behind our actions.

Cremains: *gross* I’m not sure of anyone in my industry that uses “cremains” when they’re being serious. Maybe this is an older generation thing. It seems to be a term that popped up in the Baby Boomer / Jessica Mitford / “Let’s-All-Direct-Cremate” time period. I, myself, and most FDs I know will use “cremated remains” because that is what they are. They aren’t “ashes” because that is what you get out of a fireplace.

Unless you spilled grandma’s urn in the fireplace and you’re trying to get them out of the fireplace… then they may be ashes… and I’m sorry.


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