This step-by-step guide will help you prepare for a cremation and explain what happens before, during and after the cremation service.
This guide will cover:
- What paperwork will you need?
- What happens at a cremation service?
- How long is a cremation service?
- Cremation process in the UK
- Cost of cremation
- What to do with ashes after cremation
Before the cremation service can take place, you will need to provide the following paperwork. Our caring professionals will ensure all the required paperwork is submitted to the Cremation Authority, ensuring you receive a certificate authorising the cremation.
Certificate for cremation
Also known as the green form, you should obtain this when you register the death of a loved one.
Often referred to as Form 1 in England and Wales and Form A in Scotland, this should be completed by a relative or close friend of the deceased and sent to the Cremation Authority. In doing so, you will receive authorisation to cremate your loved one.
This application form can be obtained by visiting your local council or can be downloaded directly from the council website.
The Cremation Authority will often require two medical certificates from two separate doctors. The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death must be signed by a doctor who has viewed the deceased and determined the cause of the death.
The Confirmatory Medical Certificate must be signed by a second independent doctor who must also certify the fact and cause of death.
If a coroner is involved
You will not be required to provide medical certificates if a coroner is involved. In England and Wales, you will be given Form 6 by a coroner. In Scotland, you will be given Form E by a procurator fiscal.
What happens before a cremation service?
Before the service takes place, the hearse will take the coffin or casket to the crematorium and limousines carrying family and close friends will follow in the funeral procession. Upon arrival, pallbearers will take the coffin into the chapel, placing it on a raised platform called a catafalque.
Depending on the beliefs of you and your loved one, a cremation service can be religious or non-religious. Some cremations begin with a separate funeral service, which can be held in a place of worship or other venue separate from the crematorium.
Typically, the coffin will remain on the catafalque whilst the service takes place. The end of the service is known as the committal and the coffin is usually lowered, hidden by curtains, or taken out of the chapel.
After the service, the funeral director will lead close family out of the chapel, followed by other mourners. If you would prefer the coffin to remain on view until everyone has left the chapel, our caring professionals can arrange that for you.
If you wish to play a loved one’s favourite piece of music during the service, our locally run crematoria will be able to facilitate this for you. Some of our crematoria also have video streaming facilities available, allowing absent family and friends to watch the funeral service live on the internet.
The duration of the service varies between crematoria, though it is usually 45 minutes. This allows enough time for people to enter the chapel, hold the service and pay their final respects to the deceased.
The cremation will always take place on the same day as the service, usually within a few hours. A close family member may witness the ‘charging’ of the cremators, as some religions require. Every cremation is carried out in accordance with the Cremation Code of Practice.
It’s important to keep the following funeral costs in mind when planning a cremation for your loved one:
- Crematorium charges will depend on your local area
- Some crematoriums will not charge a fee if your loved one was under the age of 17
- Memorial trees, plaques and headstones
- Family garden plots in a garden of remembrance
- Ashes urns and caskets
Dignity is the largest single operator of crematoria in Britain with a growing portfolio of well-established and state of the art crematoria that meet the needs of the local communities we serve.
We are committed to providing the highest standards of care and attention for cremation funeral services and currently operate 45 crematoria in England and Scotland.
At Dignity, we take great care to create a peaceful and tranquil environment in our chapels and gardens of remembrance for people to visit and pay their respects.
What happens to ashes after cremation?
You can arrange for the ashes to be scattered or buried in the crematorium garden of remembrance. Alternatively, the ashes can be returned to you, which will typically be within 10 days of the cremation taking place.
This can be an essential part of the grieving process, but before you decide what to do with the ashes, it’s important that you explore your options and learn what legal requirements you must abide by. Read our advice on what to do with ashes after cremation.