There are several things you may wish to consider when arranging a cremation: how to organise the cremation service, the price of cremating your loved one, and whether to arrange the cremation through a funeral director. You may also want to read more below on how cremation works and what cremation actually is, as well as our tips on how to choose a funeral director.

Cremation - Beyond

What is cremation?

  • Cremation is an option for the disposal of a dead body.
  • A funeral service is held before the cremation takes place.
  • Next, the body is placed inside a cremation chamber until the body becomes ash.
  • Finally, the cremated ashes are then returned to the family and often placed in an urn or scattered.

How cremation works in practice:

  1. The cremation chamber is preheated and any mechanical devices such as pacemakers are removed.
  2. The body is placed in the cremation chamber. The temperature inside is roughly 870-980 ºC.
  3. After one to three hours, the body is compressed to turn the remains into ash.
  4. The ashes are returned to the family.

How to arrange a cremation

  1. Start by registering the death and choosing a funeral director.
  2. Inform the funeral director you would like a cremation. The funeral director will then book a crematorium.
  3. Complete a cremation form, which the funeral director will send to the crematorium with other necessary documents.

Cremation regulations can be quite complex so it’s recommended to use a funeral director rather than do it yourself. The funeral director can ensure the cremation runs smoothly and that all the required forms are submitted in due time.

What is the cost of cremation?

If you are interested in a cheaper form of cremation, you could look into direct cremation.

What is direct cremation?

In recent years, direct cremation has emerged as a cheaper alternative to the typical cremation service.

The body is taken by a funeral director, who arranges for the cremation to take place outside of peak hours (late at night or early in the morning) when demand is lower. Mourners are not usually permitted to be present, and the ashes are then returned to the family at a later time and date. Naturally, you are free to host your memorial service at a time that suits.

Holding a cremation service

A cremation service is around 30 minutes long and takes place before the cremation of the body. The service is typically held in the crematorium chapel, with the coffin displayed on a raised platform. The deceased is then cremated within 24 hours of the cremation service. The only time when you wouldn’t hold a cremation service is for a direct cremation.

Can I arrange a cremation on my own?

Yes, you can arrange the cremation services yourself if you are the executor or the nearest surviving relative. Cremation regulations are complex but if you wish to arrange it without the involvement of a funeral director, you can obtain advice from cremation authorities that are members of ICCM’s (Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management) Charter for the Bereaved.

Can I specify cremation through a funeral plan?

Every funeral plan is different, and you should consult the fine text. You can certainly specify cremation through the Beyond funeral plan.

When does the cremation take place?

The Code of cremation practice typically requires the cremation to take place immediately after the service or within the same day, unless consent has been provided for it to take place at another day and time.

Can family be present at the cremation?

Yes, some crematoria have a viewing area where you may witness the committal of the coffin into the cremator. Others may allow a group of relatives into the crematory to witness the committal, whilst others may have a room with CCTV enabling the viewing to take place. If you wish to witness the committal you must inform the crematorium beforehand to arrange it.

How to know if the right cremated remains were received

On arrival, each coffin is given a corresponding identity card, which is placed outside of the cremator when the coffin goes in. The cremator can hold only one coffin at a time and the cremated remains must be cleared out before it can be used again. The identity card follows each stage of the cremation process until the remains are placed in a storage container.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Yes. ICCM’s regulations note that the coffin and the body must both be placed in the cremator before the cremation begins.

What happens to the remains after the cremation?

After the cremation, the remains are handled according to the wishes of the nearest surviving relative or the executor.

Different crematoria have different options for the remains varying from scattering, burying in a garden of remembrance, placing in a columbarium, interring in a family vault to burying cremated remains in family graves that are full for coffined burials. You may also be able to buy a grave for new cremated remains in a cemetery.

Other option for memorials include placing plaques on trees, memorial benches and similar.

Your nearest crematorium will be able provide details of the available options and your chosen funeral director should help you with the arrangement.

When do I need to decide what to do with the cremated remains?

There is no need to make a hurried decision with regard to what you do with 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.