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Cremation Process – What happens: 2021

Cremation Process – What Happens

The Standard Cremation Process – 2024

Almost 80% of people in the UK are cremated, one of the highest rates in the world. However, many are unsure about what happens at a crematorium, the cremation process itself, and what happens to the ashes afterward. Here is an updated overview of the cremation process in the UK:

  1. What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral? The coffin is brought in, followed by the mourners. The coffin is placed on the catafalque (a raised platform). A service, either religious or secular, is conducted. The committal (removal of the coffin) follows, with different methods such as curtains closing around the coffin, lowering it from sight, or withdrawing it through a gateway. The mourners then leave the chapel.
  2. Do I have to have a religious service? No, you can choose a religious, non-religious, or no service at all. A Celebrant can conduct non-religious, semi-religious, or spiritual ceremonies if desired. For religious services, contact your faith leader.
  3. How long does the cremation service last? The process typically takes between 40 minutes and an hour - longer if requested. Different crematoria have different durations. Ensure you have allowed enough time for entering, holding the service, and leaving. If a large group is expect please discuss this with you funeral director.
  4. What happens to the coffin after the committal? The coffin is moved to a committal room where the nameplate is checked with the cremation order. It is then labelled with a card that stays with the body until the ashes are released to the family. The coffin is placed in a cremator, which only fits one standard-sized coffin.
  5. Does the cremation take place immediately? Usually, yes. If not, it will be done on the same day. The process takes between one to three hours.
  6. Is the coffin cremated with the body? Yes, the coffin is cremated with the body, and nothing is removed after the committal.
  7. What happens to non-combustible objects like metal nails or jewellery? A magnet removes ferrous parts, and other metals are removed and often sent for recycling. It is advised not to leave jewellery on the deceased as it will not be part of the returned ashes.
  8. Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator? Yes, normally two people are allowed. You should ask in advance.
  9. What happens to the remains after the cremation process? The ashes are placed on a cooling tray, metals are removed, and the remains are reduced in size using a machine. The ashes are almost entirely bone matter. If a 'substantial' coffin is used there may some residue retailing to this. Note: Ashes vary in size - depending n the machine used to reduce them. And ashes can vary in colour
  10. How long after cremation does it take to get the ashes? Ashes can occasionally be available the same day, but usually, they are ready for collection within one working day.
  11. What should I expect to receive after a cremation? The ashes are usually returned in an unglamorous container unless specified and paid for otherwise.  This generally is more than people expect. For an adult studies show that on average, the weight of cremated remains for men is about 7.13 pounds (plus or minus 1.2 pounds) roughly 3.5kg and for women, 4.9 pounds (plus or minus 1 pound) roughly 2.5kg.

    The container will be the size of a large vase or old style sweet shop container. This is what the cremation authority are required to do - packaging

  12. What happens if I choose to leave the ashes at the crematorium? The ashes will be strewn in the gardens of remembrance if not collected. Some crematoria offer niches for urns (Columbarium) on a lease basis.
  13. What are the Gardens of Remembrance at a crematorium? These are areas set aside for the disposal of cremation ashes. Some crematoria offer plaques, dedicated rose bushes, or similar on a lease basis.
  14. How long do I have to collect the ashes? It varies generally crematoria will keep ashes for up to one month before charging for storage. If not instructed otherwise, they will notify you 14 days before scattering the ashes in the garden of remembrance.
  15. Can anyone collect the ashes? No, ashes are released only to the funeral director or the person named on the paperwork, who must provide identification. A Certificate of Cremation is provided with the ashes.

The majority of the answers about the cremation process and what happens at a cremation are based on advice from The Federation of British Cremation Authorities.


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