Cremations

Cremations FAQs

Are there any religious groups which forbid cremation to their members?

Yes. Today all Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation but it is forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims. It is the normal method for Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists.

Can I keep the ashes if I wish to or must I dispose of them?

You may do what you wish with the ashes and may keep them with you if you want. Some crematoria will place ashes in a repository at the crematorium if this is desired and an annual charge is made for this. 

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

Yes. Normally up to four persons are permitted to attend and the Crematoria staff should be advised in advance of this wish.

Do I have to sign anything else at this stage?

You will be asked how you wish to dispose of the ashes. Your funeral director will ask you to sign the ashes form (there are several options available to you). If you are undecided, most crematoria will keep cremation ashes for a month, giving you time to make a decision.

Does the cremation take place immediately or are the coffins stored up until a number are ready to be cremated?

If the service is taking place at Canley crematorium between 9am and 1.45pm the cremation will take place the same day. If your service takes place between 2.15pm and 3.45pm the cremation  will take place the following morning (Monday -Friday inclusive) . The Code of Cremation Practice says cremation should take place within 24 hours of the cremation service.

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 make sure that the person instructed is someone who is likely to carry out your wishes. The final decision will rest with your executors.

How do I know I shall get the right ashes?

As explained, 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 in 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 the 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 As each cremator will only accept one coffin and the ashes must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all ashes are kept separate throughout the process. The size of the cremation chamber of the cremator is about 7ft. long by 2ft. 6in. wide by 2ft. 3in. high.

How is cremation arranged?

The Cremation Regulations are still quite complicated and it is best to approach a funeral director immediately after the death and tell them you want to arrange for a cremation. Discuss how soon you want the cremation to take place and who you wish to carry out the service, also the form of service. The funeral director will then do all that is needed to get the forms needed for the cremation. You will need to sign the statutory form 'Cremation 1' 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.

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

1968 was the year in which the number of cremations exceeded disposal by burial for the first time, since when the proportion has increased and now approaches 76% of all funerals.

If l want 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 Service Manager there. He/she will be pleased to answer your questions and show you how the crematorium is operated.

The Assistant Manager is personally available by appointment at the Crematorium Office and staff are available during office hours to give advice or further information on any matter about cremation.

CRUSE Bereavement Care offers help and guidance in coping with bereavement. The local telephone numbers are Coventry 024 7659 4218 and Coventry East 024 7671 4018.

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

As the highest biochemical activity exists on the surface of the soil and the 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. Where remains are scattered it is the practice to dress the area with suitable loam/sand mixtures.

Is cremation more expensive than burial?

No. 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 is when the death has 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.

Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in the 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 asks for the two be cremated together.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Yes. The Code of Practice says nothing must be removed from the coffin after it has been received from the chapel and it must be placed in the cremator exactly as received.

Must there be any religious ceremony with cremation?

No. A civil ceremony can be conducted or there may be none at all. On occasions a memorial service is conducted separately from the cremation ceremony.

Of what do the prepared ashes consist?

The ashes consist bone and coffin ash and weigh usually between 4 and 6lb. They are in a state which will permit them to be scattered.

Preparation of the ashes has been mentioned - what does this involve?

When the cremation is complete, the remains are withdrawn from the cremator into a cooling tray. Often cooling is accelerated by means of air blown onto them by a fan blower. When cool, the metal material is removed by a magnetic field. The 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.

What about precious and other metals?

The temperature at which a modern cremator operates (between 800°C and 1000°C) is such that metals are fused with other material so that they are not recognisable. The Code of Practice states that any metallic material resulting from a cremation should be disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the cremation authority and recommends that all metals are collected for recycling. At the time of making arrangements with your funeral director you will be asked if you would like Bereavement Services to dispose of the metals for you or if you wish to have them returned to you after the cremation has taken place.

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 scattered or buried but without any spot being reserved by 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.

What can I do if I wish to bury the ashes and have a gravestone?

The remains would need to be buried in a cemetery or churchyard where provision is made for this to be done. The gardens of a crematorium are not a burial ground within statutory law and when the remains are buried there it is merely an extension of the idea of scattering and the remains are not enclosed in an urn.

What happens about the handles and other coffin fittings?

Crematorium regulations say that all fittings shall be of a combustible material and normally the handles and name plate are today 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 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 moment when the committal of the body takes place the coffin may be obscured from view by means of curtains closing round the catafalque or the coffin may be withdrawn through a gateway or it may be lowered from the catafalque and descend into a committal room below. 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 on 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 now on until the final disposal of the ashes.

What happens to the cremation ashes?

In eighty per cent of cases the cremation ashes are scattered or buried in the gardens of remembrance at the crematorium. A few crematoria have niches where urns may be placed but these are usually in a rental basis and if not renewed periodically the ashes would be scattered or buried. The alternative is to remove the cremation ashes from the crematorium in a suitable urn for disposal elsewhere. This may be by burial in a family grave or by scattering the ashes at another crematorium or in some favourite spot. However, please remember that when ashes are scattered in other places, such as graves, church yards, etc., you need to get permission and any local rules or regulations obeyed.

What memorials are possible at the crematorium?

Usually the only permanent form of memorial available is an entry in the Book of Remembrance. This book 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 have to be renewed periodically by further payments. At some crematoria it is also 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 allowed, while others have memorial funds where relatives can make donations and the money is used to provide improvements for the grounds or buildings. If you are anxious about memorial facilities at the crematorium you should ask the funeral director at the time of making arrangements to find out what facilities are available. This can avoid disappointment at a later date.

What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?

The service for burial and cremation is the same apart from the form of committal sentences and the service may take place in your own church or chapel with a short committal service in the crematorium chapel, or 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 told in advance.

What would you recommend to people about leaving an item of jewellery on a body?

The best advice is that it should be removed after death unless it is intended that it should be cremated. Once the coffin has been placed in the chapel there is no way of recovering such items. 

Bereavement services

Email: bereavement.services@coventry.gov.uk

Tel: 024 7678 5486

The Lodge
Cannon Hill Road
Coventry
CV4 7DF

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