People are often unsure what the cremation service involves. We take you step by step through the process from getting the right documentation to the service and cremation.
Before the service
Before the cremation service can go ahead you will need to provide the following documentation. Your funeral director will assist with all of these arrangements and help you fill in the paperwork.
The executor, near relative or person authorised to act in that capacity must send a Cremation Application form – sometimes called Form 1 in England and Wales and Form A in Scotland – to the cremation authority in order to receive authorisation to cremate the remains of the deceased person. The form can be obtained by visiting your local council or can be downloaded directly from the council website.
You will usually need to provide the Cremation Authority with two medical certificates from two separate doctors. This is not required when the Coroner issues a certificate – sometimes called Form 6 in England and Wales or a Procurator Fiscal's Form E in Scotland. Both certificates can be obtained for a small fee.
The Medical Certificate confirms the fact and cause of death and must be filled in and signed by the last doctor to attend the deceased.
The Confirmatory Medical Certificate must be signed by a second independent doctor who must also certify the fact and cause of death. Both doctors must see the body.
Your funeral director will ensure that all the above documentation, along with the Registry of Death, are submitted to the cremation authority who will issue a certificate authorising the cremation once satisfied all the documentation is in order.
The cremation service can be religious or non-religious, or you may choose to have no service at all.
Any service that takes place must be carried out within the time allowed for each funeral and not impact on the funeral before or after. The duration of the service varies between crematoria but is usually 45 minutes, which allows time for people to enter the chapel, hold the service and leave. If you feel you will need a longer period of time, it is possible to book the following service time for an additional charge.
If you prefer, you can hold a service in a separate place, like a church, followed by a ceremony at the crematorium. You can arrange for your own minister to carry out the service or your funeral director can help you find a suitable person.
The end of the service is known as the committal. During the committal the coffin is usually hidden from view by curtains or taken out of the chapel. If you are arranging a funeral and would prefer the coffin to remain on view until everyone has left, your funeral director can arrange that for you.
When the service is over, the funeral director leads close family out of the chapel, followed by the other mourners. You will have an opportunity to look at the floral tributes and the family will have time to thank people for coming.
The cremation will always take place on the same day as the service, usually within a few hours. A close member of the family may witness the 'charging' of the cremators, as some religions require. If you would like to arrange this, let your funeral director know when you make the funeral arrangements.
The coffin is taken into a room where the nameplate is checked. An identity card is then attached to the cremator where the coffin is placed and is kept with the ashes until they leave the crematorium.
The coffin is always cremated with the body in accordance with the Cremation Code of Practice. The code also requires that nothing must be removed from the coffin after it has been received from the chapel and that it must be placed in the cremator exactly as received.
When the cremation is finished, small amounts of bone usually remain. These are taken from the cremator, cooled and placed in a machine which reduces the bone to ashes.
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