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How Can I Be Sure I Won’t Still Be Alive When I Go Into the Retort?

How Can I Be Sure I Won't Still Be Alive When I Go Into the Retort

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We’ve all thought about it at some point. What if I’m actually alive when I’m buried or cremated? For some people this is a serious fear, and hearing the random stories of it happening doesn’t help. 

You’ll be happy to know that being cremated alive is virtually impossible. Here’s why. 

What Retort Means

How can I be sure I won’t still be alive when I go into the retort? That’s what we get asked a lot when a person wants to know more about the cremation process. We completely understand why someone might be concerned about this if they are unfamiliar with how everything works.

First, let’s explain what retort means. Retort is the technical name for the chamber where cremation occurs. The body is placed in a combustible container (usually a wood coffin) after it is properly prepared. The container with the body is then put in the retort chamber for cremation. 

People who plan to be cremated are sometimes concerned about being alive at this point, similar to the fear of being buried alive. Because the temperature is raised to 1,400-2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in the chamber there’s no way a person could survive retort. The good news is, that isn’t something you really need to worry about.

Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Being Alive at Retort

Fear over being buried or cremated alive is actually an antiquated concern, meaning that it’s been a fear people have had for a very long time. In fact, historians note that a number of “safety” coffins were designed in the late 1700s and 1800s. The first safety coffin on record was made for Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in 1792. 

Many of the safety coffin designs incorporated a bell on the surface and cord that could be pulled from inside the coffin to ring the bell. The idea was that the interred person could literally be saved by the bell, which helped popularize the saying. Some safety coffins also had flags, feeding tubes and pyrotechnics.  

While being buried or cremated alive was a more legitimate concern a few hundred years ago, it’s essentially a non-issue today, especially with cremation. That’s because funeral directors are the last responders. We don’t become part of the process until a person has been officially declared dead by a medical examiner or physician. There’s no way can we take you into our care before being pronounced dead, let alone prepare the body and move it to retort. 

Typically, the cremation process is going to take at least a few days because the death certificate and other authorizations are needed before the cremation can occur. A number of medical professionals would have to unknowingly mistake that a person is dead up to that point, which is nearly impossible to do these days with the medical equipment that’s used. 

Have more questions about cremation? At Green Cremation Texas we make the process as simple as possible from start to finish. Contact us today to learn about how we handle cremations in an eco-conscious, affordable way.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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