How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?
1968 was the first year in which the number of cremations exceeded disposal by burial for the first time, since then the proportion has increased and now approaches 72% of all funerals.
Are there any religious groups which forbid cremation to their members?
Yes. Today all Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation. It is the normal method for Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists, but it is forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Moslems.
Is cremation dearer than burial?
No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation. The funeral directorâ€™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 usually no later costs for headstones, grave care etc., which arise with burial.
What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?
The services for burial and cremation are the same apart from the form of committal sentences. The service may take place in oneâ€™s own church or chapel with a short committal service in the Crematorium Chapel. Alternatively the whole service may be conducted in the Crematorium Chapel. You may arrange for your own minister to conduct the service. The form of service should be arranged with the minister and if hymns are to be sung at the Crematorium, the organist there should be advised.
Must there be any religious ceremony with cremation?
No. This is not obligatory. A civic ceremony can be conducted or there may be none at all. On occasions a memorial service is conducted separately from the cremation ceremony.
How is a cremation arranged?
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 produce the necessary statutory Forms for the cremation. You will need to sign the statutory Form â€˜Aâ€™ if you are the executor or the next of kin or are authorised by either to do so. The death will have to be registered and you will be advised how to do this.
Do I have to sign anything else at this stage?
You will probably be asked how you wish to dispose of the cremation ashes. If you know what you want at this stage, you will be asked to sign an Authorisation Form for the Crematorium to carry out your wishes.
What can happen to the crematorium ashes?
In 80% of cases, the crematorium ashes are buried in the Gardens of Remembrance at the Crematorium. A few Crematoria have niches where urns may be placed but these are usually on a rental basis and if not renewed periodically the ashes would be buried. The alternative is to remove the cremation ashes from the Crematorium in a suitable urn for disposal elsewhere. This may be burial in a family grave or by strewing the ashes at another Crematorium or in some favourite spot.
What are the Gardens of Remembrance at a Crematorium?
The Gardens of Remembrance consist of areas set aside for the disposal of cremation ashes. Usually, these areas have been dedicated for the purpose by representatives of the Christian Churches. Ashes may be buried but without any spot being reserved to any one person. Individual memorials are not permitted in such gardens to mark the spot. This is because the areas may be used again over the years for as long as the Crematorium is in operation.
What memorials are possible then at the Crematorium?
Usually the only permanent form of memorial available is an entry in the Book of Remembrance. This is usually displayed in a special Memorial Chapel and each day the entries for that day are on display so that a person is remembered on the anniversary of the death. Some Crematoria allow Wall Plaques or Plaques on kerbstones, etc. but these are usually for a limited period and require periodical renewal by further payments. At some Crematoria it is possible to dedicate a rose bush or other garden item with a small plaque, but this again is for a limited period with the option of renewal on further payment. Again some Crematoria are able to accept donations of such items as seats, stained glass windows, etc., where a memorial inscription may be permitted. Others have memorial funds to which relatives can make donations and the monies are used to provide additional embellishments for the grounds or buildings. If you are anxious about memorial facilities at the Crematorium, you should enquire of the funeral director at the time of making the arrangements in order to ascertain what facilities are available. This can avoid disappointment at a later date.
What happens at the Crematorium on the day of the funeral?
The coffin is usually brought into the Chapel followed by the mourners in procession. While it is being placed on the catafalque, the mourners take their seats and the service proceeds. At the point of committal, the coffin may be obscured from view by means of curtains closing around the catafalque, or it may be withdrawn through a gateway, or lowered from the catafalque into a committal room. The method varies at each Crematorium but the most common method today is the use of curtains. At the end of the service, mourners leave the Chapel and may inspect the floral tributes before leaving.
What happens to the coffin after the committal?
It is withdrawn into a committal room where the name plate of the coffin is checked with the cremation order to ensure correct identity. The coffin is then labelled with a card prepared by the Crematorium giving all the relevant information. This card will stay with the body from then until the final disposal of the cremation ashes.
Does the cremation take place immediately or are the coffins stored until a number are ready to be cremated?
Where possible, the cremation will follow immediately after the service. The Code of Cremation Practice, which is adhered to by members of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities, requires that the cremation shall take place on the same day as the cremation service.
Is the coffin cremated with the body?
Yes. The Code requires that nothing must be removed from the coffin after it has been received from the Chapel and it must be placed into the cremator exactly as received.
What happens about the handles and other coffin fittings?
Cremation regulations require that all fittings shall be of combustible material and today the handles and name plate are normally made of hard plastic. Ferrous nails and screws do not burn and stay with the ashes until they are withdrawn from the cremator when they are subjected to a magnetic field which removes them.
What about precious and other metals?
The temperature at which a modern cremator operates (between 800Â° and 1000Â°C) is such that these metals are fused with other material so that they are not recognisable. The Code of Practice states that a metallic material resulting from a cremation should be disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the Cremation Authority and recommends that this should be done by burial at a depth within the Crematorium grounds.
What would you recommend to people then, about leaving items of jewellery on a body?
The best advice is that it should be removed after death unless it is intended to be cremated. Once the coffin has been placed in the Chapel, there is no way of recovering such items.
Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in a cremator?
No. The only exceptions permitted to this rule are in the case of a mother and baby or twin children when the next of kin requests that the two be cremated together.
Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?
Yes, normally two persons are permitted to attend and the superintendent should be advised in advance of this wish.
How do I know I shall get the right cremation ashes?
Each coffin is identified on arrival and the identity card is placed on the outside of the cremator as soon as the coffin is placed into it. The card stays there until the ashes are removed and it is then transferred to the cooling tray. The ashes then go to the preparation room and the card stays with them, finally being placed in an urn which contains the prepared remains. As each cremator will only accept one coffin and the ashes must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all cremation ashes are kept separate throughout the process. The size of the cremation chamber of the cremator is about 7 feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide by 2 feet 3 inches high.
Preparation of the ashes has been mentioned. What does this entail?
When the cremation is complete, that is, when there is no further combustion taking place, the cremation ashes are withdrawn from the cremator into a cooling tray. Often cooling is accelerated by means of a fan blowing air on to them. When cool, the ferrous material is removed by means of a magnetic field. The remaining ashes are then placed into a machine which reduces the remains to a fine white ash. All non-ferrous metals are cleared and disposed of in accordance with the Code of Practice.
Of what do the prepared ashes consist?
The ashes are now totally bone ash and usually weigh between 4 and 6 pounds. They are now suitable for strewing.
If ashes are strewn on the ground, what happens to them?
As the highest bio-chemical activity exists at the surface of the soil and the cremation ashes are of a small granular form, weather and bio-chemical action quickly break down the ashes to form part of the earth, and within a short time there is no trace of them. Where ashes are strewn, it is the practise to dress the area with the suitable loam/sand mixtures to cover the remains.
What can I do if I want to bury the ashes and have a gravestone?
In such a case it would be necessary to have the ashes buried in a Cremated Remains Grave in a Cemetery or Churchyard where provision is made for this. The gardens of a Crematorium are not a burial ground within statutory law and when the ashes are buried there it is merely an extension of the idea of strewing and the ashes are not enclosed in an urn.
Can I keep the cremation ashes if I want to, or must I dispose of them?
The applicant may do what they wish with the ashes and may keep them if this is desired. Some crematoria will place ashes in a repository at the Crematorium if this is desired. An annual charge is made for this facility.
How can I ensure that I am cremated when I die?
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.
If I wanted to know more about cremation and perhaps inspect a Crematorium, how should I go about it?
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.
A Child's Questions about Death
Death is the name we give to a very confusing part of life. We know that plants die in winter. We know that animals die too. We can understand that is the way nature works. But it is much, much harder to understand why people die, especially someone we love. When someone we love dies we may feel terribly sad and want to cry, or feel afraid, or even angry. Learning about this part of life can help us feel much better. Here are some of the questions that children ask about death.
Why do people die?
Dying is a natural part of life. All living things â€“ plants, animals, even people â€“ are special parts of Godâ€™s natural world.
Nature almost always gives us long, healthy lives. Like all other living things, though, people grow old and reach the end of their life. This is called death, or dying.
Why canâ€™t doctors and hospitals stop someone from dying?
Many times they do. Yet sometimes, even though they have tried their best, someone dies. Doctors help people live long, healthy lives. Because of what doctors have learned, people live much longer now than they did when your grandparents were children. Hospitals help people too. Doctors and nurses work in hospitals to make sick and injured people better.
People go to hospitals to become healthy, not to die.
Where do dead people go?
Some people believe that when someone dies, part of that person lives on and goes to Heaven. This part of us is not like a heart or brain or any other part of us that doctors have to take care of. It is the part of us that lets us feel love and happiness. It never gets sick. It never wears out. This part of us is called spirit, or the soul. Lots of people all over the world believe that when they die their spirits, or souls, live on. We cannot see someoneâ€™s spirit. We cannot see Heaven either. But we have faith in them. Faith is believing in something that we cannot see or measure.
Does death hurt?
Doctors tell us that death is not usually painful. Dying is almost always quiet.
When someone dies in an accident, they often feel no pain at all because death comes so quickly.
When someone is sick or hurt for a long time before death, special medicines can take away much of the pain.
When someone dies are they being punished?
Death is never a punishment. It is almost always natural. Time or illness wears out important parts of our bodies. After many, many years these parts cannot work any more. People die when these parts â€“ the heart, for example â€“ stop working. Sometimes sickness makes our bodies stop working before a person becomes old. This is not a punishment, though. A person dies when an important part of their body wears out and stops working.
Why did someone I love have to die? Why couldnâ€™t it have been someone else?
Sometimes death doesnâ€™t seem fair.
Of all the people in the whole world, why did this one special person have to die?
Almost everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, is loved by others. Almost everyone will be missed by others when they die. Right now someone just like you somewhere else in the world is asking the same question: why did someone I live have to die?
Is death like sleeping?
People who are dead look as if they are sleeping but dying is nothing like sleep.
People â€“ animals too â€“ sleep to rest and stay healthy. Sleep gives hard-working parts of our bodiesâ€™ time to store up strength.
Think of how good you feel after sleeping. You feel good because your body is rested and ready for another day.
When someone dies, their body stops working. It is not resting. Its job is over.
Why do some people die when they are very young?
Sometimes, but not very often, death comes to a child. Illness can make this happen. So can a very bad accident.
A young personâ€™s death makes us feel especially unhappy. We feel that it isnâ€™t fair. We feel that everyone should live a long, happy life. We know that we will miss a young friend, or sister, or brother more than we might miss anyone else. We may even feel sad because we sometimes argued or fought with that child.
All these feelings are normal. Every young person has them, just as you do. But you must leave room for other feelings too. Remember that you often made that child happy. Maybe you did argue once in a while. All friends do that. But all friends love each other too. Even though that childâ€™s life was not as long as yours will be, it was a mostly happy life, because of loving friends like you.
Grown-ups are big and strong.
Why do grown-ups die before they get old?
Most grown-ups are strong and healthy. They will live until they are very old. Sometimes, though, a grown-ups heart or other important part of their body stops working. Being big and strong doesnâ€™t always help. It is not the personâ€™s fault. It is not your fault. Remember this too: probably no other grown-up you love will die before they become very old.
How can I stop feeling sad?
It is natural to cry and feel sad when someone you love dies. You miss them. You may feel lonely. You may feel confused too. Most people â€“ not just children â€“ feel the same when someone they love dies.
Sadness is something like the pain you feel when you hurt yourself. At first it hurts very much. But it will hurt less each day. Sooner than you think it will be gone. Then you will be able to think about the person who has died without feeling sad.
Right now you are trying to understand more about death. This will take some of your sadness away. It helps to ask questions. It also helps very much to tell your family and friends how you feel. It helps most of all not to pretend. If you are sad, donâ€™t pretend you are not. If you arenâ€™t sad, donâ€™t try to feel that way.
How long will I live?
No one knows how long he or she will live. We do know that we will not live forever. (Image how crowded the world would be if people lived forever!) We know that when we grow old, death gets closer.
This does not mean that people worry all their lives about growing old and dying. As we grow older we learn more about living and dying.
How long will you live?
Probably a long, long time. Almost everyone does.
Do people die because they are unhappy?
Unhappiness can sometimes make us feel sick for a while. But almost no dies because they are unhappy.
Remember the times when you have been unhappy? Sooner or later you feel better again. You are able to smile and laugh again. Everyone goes through times like this. It has nothing to do with dying.
What are funerals for?
One of the nicest things about being a person is that we are able to feel love for another person. This doesnâ€™t end when that person dies.
Funerals can help us to cry and say our goodbyes to someone we love. They are for sharing loving feelings about someone who has died. They give us the chance to remember with others the goodness and joy that person brought to our lives. This takes away some of the sadness that we feel. It also helps us understand how much others care, too.
What happens to a personâ€™s body when they die?
When people die they donâ€™t need their bodies and cannot feel pain any more. After someone dies we put their body in a coffin, which is a wooden box made especially for them.
They are taken to a cemetery or crematorium. These are places where we can say goodbye to the person we love. A cemetery is a quiet place where we can come and think about the person we loved. After we have said our goodbyes, their coffin is put in the ground.
Some people prefer to be taken to the crematorium after they have died. Here their bodies are made into ashes which can then be scattered in a special place. This place might be in the gardens at the crematorium, or in a wood, on a hill or wherever they especially liked to be.
When I get older will I understand about death better than I do now?
As we grow up we learn more about many things in life, not just death. Think of all the things you have learned already! By the time, you are grown-up you will have learned much, much more.
The more we learn about life, the better we are able to understand that part of it we call death or dying. It wonâ€™t be as confusing as it is now. It wonâ€™t be as hard to talk or think about.
You have already learned some important things about this part of life. You probably wonâ€™t forget them. What you have learned already will help you all your life.