What happens at a cremation?

wicker coffin decorated with flowers being put into a cremator for cremation

Cremation is the most popular type of funeral in the UK. In 2021, 75% of funerals were cremations and just 25% were burials (SunLife Report 2022). But if you’re not familiar with how cremation works and you’re thinking about different funeral options the below info will help. We’ll cover how cremation works and what to expect at a cremation service so that you can make a suitable choice.

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of turning the body of a person who’s died into ashes using heat. It takes place in a special chamber where the ashes left behind can be cooled and collected. Later the ashes are returned to the family of the person who died. The family can then decide to store, scatter or bury the ashes depending on how they’d like to remember the person.

How does a cremation work?

Knowing exactly how the process of cremation works and what preparation is needed might help you make a decision about what’s suitable for you. We’ve put together the below info to make things easier.

What happens during cremation?

The special chamber where the cremation takes place is heated to about 800-900ºC. Once heated the coffin goes into the chamber. When the coffin is cremated the remains are left to cool down. Then a magnet is used to remove any metal left behind. The remains are then put into a machine called a cremulator. This turns bone into fine ashes so that they can be stored in a container or an urn which can be given back to the family.

How long does a cremation take?

The cremation process takes around 2-3 hours. The time will depend on how long it takes to cool and what the coffin was made from.

How is a body prepared for cremation?

When the person passes away the funeral director will collect them and prepare them for the cremation. They’ll be cleaned and dressed in a simple robe or an outfit chosen by their family. They’ll be kept safe in a mortuary in the funeral home. But if you have beliefs that mean you’d like the person to be prepared or kept safe in a different way make sure you speak to the funeral director about this in advance. They’ll be able to help you with any rituals that you’d like before the service. Before the cremation any jewellery the person was wearing will be given back to the family. Certain medical devices like pacemakers will also be removed.

Do you have to have a coffin for cremation?

Most crematoriums require a coffin for a cremation. This is because it makes the process of cremation easier. But some crematoriums may allow a shroud that covers the body. They’ll be placed on a flat board so that it’s easier to move them to the venue. Talk to your funeral director about what’s possible before making any arrangements.

What happens to a coffin at a cremation?

The coffin is cremated along with the body of the person who died. You can choose from several different types of coffin for a cremation. All of these will break down easily during the cremation.

What can you put in a coffin for cremation?

Personal items can be put into the coffin to be cremated with the person as long as they’ll break down easily and leave no harmful chemicals behind. For example, you could leave a photograph, a written message, book, or flowers. Make sure you check what’s allowed before making any plans.

How long does it take to get the ashes after cremation?

This will be as soon as possible. Sometimes on the same day or a day or two after the service. You can buy an urn before so that the ashes are returned to you in the urn. Otherwise the crematorium will store the ashes in a basic container to be returned to you.

If you’re not ready to collect the ashes straightaway, that’s okay. The funeral director or crematorium will store them for you. You can collect them at the time that’s right for you.

Who can collect the ashes from the funeral director?

The funeral director will expect the person who organised the funeral to collect the ashes. This is usually the person who signed the cremation application form. So make sure there’s no confusion over this before you collect the ashes. It’s sensible to take ID with you too.

What happens at a cremation service?

If you haven’t been to a cremation before it can help to know what to expect from the service. Each cremation service will be different from the next but a typical cremation order of service usually looks something like this:

How long does a cremation service take?

A cremation service takes about 30-45 minutes depending on what readings, poems or tributes you’d like to have. You can ask to book more time for the service if you’d like to have more readings or music, for example.

For more info on cremation read our resources on:

 

Photo by The Good Funeral Guide on Unsplash

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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