Bereavement Services - Cremation

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: What service arrangements are available at the crematorium?

Answer: A full religious service may be conducted at the crematorium within the time allowed for each funeral. Alternatively, a service may take place in any separate place of worship followed by a brief committal ceremony at the crematorium. Families can arrange for their particular Minister to conduct the service or when required Funeral Directors may secure the services of a suitable Minister on behalf of the family.

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Question: Is it necessary for the cremation to be associated with a religious ceremony?

Answer: The deceased's family can make any service arrangements which they consider to be appropriate. Secular services can be conducted at the crematorium or, if required, no ceremony need take place. Memorial services can be conducted separately from the cremation ceremony in local places of worship by arrangement with the Minister concerned.

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Question: How is cremation arranged?

Answer: The Cremation Regulations are still quite complicated and it is wisest to approach a funeral director immediately death occurs and advise him that you desire to arrange for a cremation. Discuss with him how soon you wish the cremation to take place and whom you wish to officiate at the service, also the form of service. The funeral director will then do all that is needed to procure the necessary statutory forms for the cremation. You will need to sign the statutory Form A if you are either the executor or the next of kin or are authorised to do so. The death will have to be registered and you will be advised how to do this.

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Question: Do relatives need to decide at this stage about the disposal of cremated remains?

Answer: The Funeral Director will discuss with relatives the alternative arrangements which may be adopted for the disposal of cremated remains. A form of authority will be required to be signed advising the crematorium of the wishes of the family. If they are undecided it will be possible for the cremated remains to be retained, either at the crematorium or at the Funeral Director's premises, pending a decision.

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Question: What are the normal options for disposal of cremated remains?

Answer: All crematoria provide a Garden of Remembrance where cremated remains can be dispersed. Cremated remains can be removed from the crematorium in a suitable container for disposal elsewhere. This may include interment in a grave in a cemetery or churchyard, dispersal at another crematorium or disposal privately in a particular area selected by the family. Suitable permission should be obtained from the appropriate Authority in these cases.

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Question: What are the Gardens of Remembrance at a crematorium?

Answer: The gardens of remembrance consist of areas set aside for the disposal of cremation ashes. Ashes may be strewn but without any spot being reserved to any one person nor are individual memorials permitted in such gardens to mark the spot. This is because the areas are used again and again over the years and will be for as long as the crematorium is in operation.

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Question: What memorial facilities are available at crematoria?

Answer: All crematoria have some form of memorial facility. The most usual form of permanent memorial is the Book of Remembrance. This book is displayed in a special memorial chapel and entries are available for viewing either automatically on the anniversary of the date of death or on request. Some crematoria provide wall or kerb mounted plaques in stone or metal although these are normally purchased for a limited period only. Donations are often accepted for the provision of items to be used at the crematorium or for the embellishment of the buildings or grounds. The Funeral Director should be aware of the memorial options available but direct enquiries to the Crematorium Registrar will ensure that full details are provided together with a scale of charges.

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Question: What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral?

Answer: The mourners will normally gather at the crematorium in the waiting room or close to the entrance of the chapel a few minutes before the appointed time of the funeral service. It is not usual for the ceremony to commence before the publicised time. When the principal mourners are ready to proceed, the coffin will be conveyed into the chapel. The coffin will be placed on the catafalque and mourners will be directed to their seats after which the service will proceed. At the moment during the service when the committal of the body takes place the coffin may be obscured from view by curtains. At the end of the service the mourners exit the chapel and may then inspect the floral tributes.

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Question: What happens to the coffin after the committal?

Answer: The coffin is withdrawn into the committal room where the name plate is carefully checked by crematorium staff to ensure the correct identity. An identity card will then accompany the coffin and the resultant remains until their final disposal or removal from the crematorium.

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Question: Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?

Answer: The reception of the coffin in the committal room and its introduction into a cremator can be witnessed by arrangement with the Crematorium Registrar. It is preferable to advise the Funeral Director of these requirements as early as possible when making the funeral arrangements.

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Question: Is the cremation of a body governed by a code of ethics and working practices?

Answer: Cremation Authorities who are members of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities are required to operate strictly in accordance with a Code of Cremation Practice. This Code, which provides the only ethical standard of cremation practice in Great Britain, is often displayed in the public areas of the building.

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Question: How soon after the service will the cremation take place?

Answer: The cremation will usually be commenced shortly after the service. The Code of Cremation Practice specifies that the cremation is always completed on the same day as the service.

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Question: Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Answer: The Code requires that the coffin be placed in the cremator in exactly the same condition as that in which it was received at the crematorium. Crematorium regulations require that the coffin and all its fittings and furnishings be made from materials suitable for cremation. The Environment Protection Act 1990 has placed a new responsibility on Cremation Authorities to ensure that the process is completed under controlled conditions which will minimise the impact on the environment. In these circumstances it will be necessary for any items included in the coffin for presentation or viewing purposes to be removed by the Funeral Director before the coffin is conveyed to the crematorium. It is not possible for any floral tributes to be included with the coffin for cremation.

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Question: Should items of jewellery be left on a body for cremation?

Answer: It is preferable that all items of jewellery be removed from the body before the coffin is conveyed to the crematorium. The Funeral Director should ascertain your wishes in respect of this matter when the funeral arrangements are being discussed. It will not be possible to recover any items of jewellery after the coffin has been received at the crematorium.

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Question: Can more than one body be cremated in a cremator at the same time?

Answer: The Code insists that each cremation is carried out separately. Exception is in the case of mother and baby or twin children provided that the next of kin has made a specific request that the two be cremated together.


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Question: What happens to the cremated remains after cremation?

Answer: At the conclusion of a cremation the cremated remains are removed in their entirety and conveyed to a treatment area in a special container. Ferrous metals used in the construction of the coffin or metal used in medical implants are extracted and retained for separate disposal. Non-ferrous metals which may include an unrecognisable element of precious material will not be salvaged for any purpose and will be disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Cremation Practice and invariably this will be by burial in the crematorium grounds.

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Question: What procedures are followed to ensure that cremated remains are kept separate?

Answer: A cremator can physically accept only one coffin at a time and all remains are removed before the unit can be used again. The identity card, referred to previously, accompanies the coffin and cremated remains throughout the process until final disposal. The Code of ethics and practical necessity are complementary and combine to ensure that the separation of cremated remains is achieved.

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Question: How are cremated remains treated at the crematorium?

Answer: Cremated remains are removed from the cremator only when no further reduction is possible. The remains are withdrawn into a cooling area and finally into a special container for transfer to a purpose made unit which, after removal of ferrous metals, will reduce the residue to a fine consistency suitable for storage and eventual disposal. The remains are enclosed in a suitable and carefully identified container to await dispersal or collection.

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Question: What quantity of remains will there be following a cremation?

Answer: The cremation of an adult will normally result in the presentation of cremated remains weighing between 2 and 6lbs. In the case of a body of an infant it may not be possible to guarantee that any remains will be collectable. This is due to the cartilaginous nature of the bone structure.

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Question: If ashes are strewn on the ground, what happens to them?

Answer: As the highest biochemical activity exists at the surface of the soil and the cremation ashes are in a small granular form, weather and biochemical action quickly break down the ashes to form part of the earth and within a short time there is no trace of them.

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Question: Can cremated remains be Interred and their position marked with a memorial?

Answer: The Gardens of Remembrance attached to a crematorium do not provide for the erection of permanent memorials. Cremated remains interred in Gardens of Remembrance are not normally contained in a casket or container of any kind. If it is required to inter cremated remains in a grave with traditional facilities for memorialization, suitable enquiries should be made to the Registrar responsible for the selected cemetery.

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Question: Can cremated remains be retained by the family pending final disposal?

Answer: The Applicant for cremation may collect and retain the cremated remains if required. Cremated remains can be retained at the crematorium for a limited period although a charge may be made for this facility.

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Question: How can I ensure that I am cremated when I die?

Answer: Clear instructions in writing should be given to the person who will be responsible for your funeral when you die. Such instructions are not binding in law so you should ensure that the person instructed is someone who is likely to carry out your wishes. The final decision will rest with your executors.

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Question: If I wanted to know more about cremation and perhaps Inspect a crematorium, how should I go about it?

Answer: Telephone or visit your local crematorium and discuss the matter with the Superintendent there. He will be pleased to answer your queries and conduct you through the crematorium to see how it is operated.

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Question: How many people use cremation today in Britain

Answer:


1968 was the year in which the number of cremations exceeded disposal by burial for the first time, since then the proportion has increased and now approaches 70% of all funerals.


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Question: Are there any religious groups that forbid cremation to their members?

Answer: The majority of Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation. Cremation is also acceptable to Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists but it is forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Moslems.

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Question: Is cremation more expensive than burial?

Answer: Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation. The funeral director's charges are much the same for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to the Coroner therefore fees to two doctors have to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial. With cremation there are no later costs for headstones, grave care etc., which arise with burial.

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