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26 Questtions about cremation

Questions people ask about cremation and crematory
We, from  www.crematorium.eu, made a list of 26 answers on the most commonly asked questions about crematory and cremation. If you are missing a question please contact us  

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures suggest that around 70% of all funerals are cremations.

Do any religious groups forbid cremation?

All current Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation, as do Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists. It is however forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims.

Is cremation more expensive than burial?

No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial

What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?

The service for burial and cremation is the same apart from the form of committal sentences. The service may take place at your own place of worship with a short committal service in the crematorium chapel, or you may have the whole service at the crematorium chapel. Alternatively, you may prefer a civil ceremony be conducted, or even no service at all.

How is a cremation arranged?

The Cremation Regulations are complex and many people approach a funeral director immediately death occurs, and advise him that they wish to arrange a cremation. The funeral director will ensure that all the necessary statutory forms for cremation are obtained and presented to the Crematorium.

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

Yes. Some crematoria have a viewing area that overlooks the crematory, where you may witness the committal taking place. Others may have a room equipped with CCTV enabling all of those in the room to clearly see the committal whilst other crematoria may allow a supervised group into the crematory to witness the committal.  The Crematorium must be informed that you wish to witness the committal when the cremation is booked, so that staff can be informed who will then make the necessary preparations on the day.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

The container and the body shall be placed in cremator and cremation commenced. The coffin or container with the body inside shall not be opened or otherwise disturbed, other than in exceptional circumstances, and then only with the express permission and in the presence of the Applicant for Cremation (usually the executor or next of kin).

How soon after the service will the cremation take place?

The container and the body shall be placed in a cremator and cremation commenced no later than 72 hours after the service of committal. Where cremation may not be carried out on the same day, the Applicant for Cremation shall be notified.

This means that under normal circumstances the cremation is usually carried out shortly after the service and certainly on the same day. However, when a service takes place late in the day or a limited number of services are booked, the cremations may take place within the 72 hour period. Retention of coffins should only be carried out where a secure and hygienic storage facility is available. The benefits to the community from this include a reduced impact on the environment as less fossil fuel will be consumed and the efficient use of machinery and equipment will be achieved.

How are cremated remains kept separate?

The cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the remains are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card is used throughout the whole process until the final disposal, thereby ensuring correct identification.

What happens to the cremated remains after cremation?

The law relating to cremation requires that cremated remains are disposed of in accordance with the written instructions of the applicant (usually the executor or nearest surviving relative). Most crematoria have a range of options which might include scattering or burying in the garden of remembrance, placing in a columbarium, interring in a small family vault or niche. Options for memorials are also available which might include plaques beneath rose bushes, trees or shrubs and memorial benches with plaques. The simplest form of memorial is an entry inscribed in a book of remembrance. Your nearest crematorium will provide details of their facilities.

Cremated remains may also be buried in family graves that are full for coffined burials. Alternatively you may be able to purchase a new cremated remains grave in a cemetery.  

There is no need to make a hurried decision with regard the final resting place of the remains with most crematoria having a facility to hold the remains until a decision is made. Should a crematorium not be contacted with a decision after a period of time has elapsed you may receive a letter asking if you are ready to go ahead. If you are not simply tell the crematorium that you need more time (a fee may be applicable). Should a crematorium receive no reply to their letter they may legally scatter or bury the cremated remains within their grounds after giving 2 weeks written notice.

Can more than one body be cremated at a time?

Apart from the fact that it is against the law to have more than one person in the cremator at a time, the physical dimensions of the cremator prevents more than one adult coffin at a time from fitting. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small twin children, so long as the next of kin or executor has made this specific request.

Most crematoria will allow public inspection of the ‘behind the scenes’ procedures in an attempt to enlighten the public on all aspects of the cremation process.  

Are coffins sold back to funeral directors for re-use?

The coffin and the body inside are cremated together. There are occasions where the deceased or the family of the deceased have opted for using a cardboard coffin in which their loved one will be cremated. When this happens families sometimes want to have a more aesthetically pleasing coffin or container on the catafalque during the service. Families therefore will opt for either a pall (a cloth covering the cardboard coffin), or a 'cocoon coffin' (an outer shell that covers the cardboard coffin) or will decorate a cardboard coffin themselves. Neither the pall nor the cocoon is cremated. It is important to understand that the pall and cocoon do NOT contain the body of the deceased; they are simply superficial coverings for a cardboard coffin.

Can I visit a crematorium and see what happens behind the scenes?

Yes. All crematoria will arrange for such a visit if given prior notice. The visit may take place whilst cremations are taking place or when not; the choice is yours. This open door policy helps to dispel the myths that have been explained above. On seeing the cremation process the viewer can be reassured that all cremations take place individually, coffins are cremated with the deceased and that identity is maintained throughout the process so that a family can be sure that they receive the correct cremated remains.

At the end of the service will we see the flames?

No, this only happens in the movies for effect. At the conclusion of the service we close the curtains, this is symbolic of a coffin being lowered at a burial. Seeing the curtains close is a very important part of the funeral service. It clearly says to family and friends that this is good-by, that the time has come to release the physical presence of the deceased who now lives on in the hearts and memories of all who loved them.

Can someone be cremated against their wishes?

Not if there are written instructions stating that their body is not to be cremated or that it was to be buried. Instructions of this nature are best written into your Will  and any pre planned funeral arrangements.

Who can take my ashes?

Only the person who has signed the application for permission to cremate (form one Qld cremation act 2003) or someone they have provided written authorisation to. Regardless of who collects ashes, identification will be required prior to release.

Can my family place items in my coffin if I am being cremated?

Yes they can, however, there are some items that are not suitable for cremation and could in fact be hazardous to staff and visitors to the crematorium. These include items made from rubber, gum boots, military boots, batteries, metal walking sticks, photo frames or glass, pressurised cans or alcohol.

How old is cremation?

Look for this answer on "History of cremation"

Are urns required to collect the cremated remains?

Law does not require an urn. Nevertheless, an urn may be desired if there is to be a memorial service or the remains are to be interred in a cemetery. If an urn is not purchased, or provided by the family, the cremated remains are usually returned in a temporary container.

What do cremated remains look like?

Cremated remains resemble coarse beach sand. They are sandy white to gray in color. The cremated remains of an average size adult would weigh between 5 to 9 pounds and usually take up 200 cubic inches in volume or less. Except for some minuscule amounts of cremated remains which cannot practically be removed from the cremation chamber, all cremated remains are placed in a temporary of permanent urn.  If the amount of cremated remains cannot fit inside the selected urn, then any excess cremated remains would be returned in a temporary urn supplied by the crematory.

Is it required for an embalming to take place prior to cremation?   

This is completely untrue. Actually it is against the law for a funeral home to tell you it is required.

What is direct cremation?

A direct cremation is just that...a direct  cremation. There are no services with the body present prior to the cremation, the body is not prepared in any way, and an alternative container is used instead of a casket.

Can you test cremated remains for DNA?

DNA is destroyed during the cremation process. At this time there is no accurate testing of DNA in cremated remains.

Can I fly with cremated remains?

Containers that can be viewed through x-ray machines would best be made of wood, plastic or non-lead lined ceramic so the screener can clearly see what’s inside. Under NO circumstances will a screener open the container. It is recommended to take documentation with you from the funeral home to carry an urn or container through security and onto a plane.

What type of Urn do I need ?

A simple container is provided by the crematorium, free of charge. However, you may prefer an urn which more reflects your personal tastes. For your convenience, a selection of urns is on display at the cemetery office. Urns come in variety of sizes, styles and materials. Indeed, there is an urn to satisfy every preference, every requirement and every budget. You may select a cast bronze urn, one fashioned from selected hard woods, a ceramic urn or one made from another permanent material such as marble or granite. Urns range in size, from single to multiple capacity, and in styling, from traditional to modern. Some urns are square or rectangular, others are octagonal or cylindrical. And, of course, if you cannot find an available urn that meets your requirements, you can also have one custom designed. With so many beautiful urns available, you may find it difficult to make a selection. Usually, the final choice depends in part on where you will eventually place the urn - will the urn be seen or will it be concealed? Once again, it is a personal decision.

How can I be sure my wishes will be followed ?

Clear, written instructions should be given to the person who will be responsible for your funeral and cemetery arrangements. Under the current law, the final decision will rest with your executor(s), even taking precedence over the nearest relatives' choices; so it is important to select a person who you trust to carry out your wishes.

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