What happens at a cremation service?
A standard cremation service at a crematorium may take place as follows:
- The hearse and guests arrive at the crematorium for the service
- Guests gather in the waiting room or at the chapel entrance
- The coffin is brought into the chapel and placed on the catafalque (raised platform)
- Close family members followed by the other guests will enter and take their seats
- The service begins; led by a minister, celebrant or by family members
- There may be readings, music, hymns and/or songs
- At the end of the service, the coffin is removed from view using curtains (the committal)
- Guests leave the chapel and may be directed to where the floral donations can be viewed
How long does a cremation service last?
A standard cremation service lasts about 30 - 45 minutes; from when guests enter the chapel until when they leave.
As with a service at a church, there may be readings, music, hymns and speeches (which may last about 20 minutes of the total time).
Usually, the services at a crematorium chapel will take place one after the other, so it’s important that each service doesn’t overrun.
A longer service can be pre-arranged with the funeral director if it’s required.
How is a body prepared for cremation?
Up until the funeral, the person who has passed will be preserved and cared for in a temperature-controlled room at the funeral director’s mortuary (or at the hospital or hospice mortuary).
The funeral director or a family member will dress the deceased in their own clothes and jewellery, but jewellery tends to be removed before the cremation (as these cannot be recovered afterwards).
It’s recommended that their clothing is made from natural fibres such as cotton and wool.
Before cremation, the funeral director would have made sure that pacemakers or any other type of implant is removed.
Crematorium staff will confirm once again just before the cremation if there is a pacemaker, as this could explode during the process and cause significant damage to the cremator.
What can you put in a coffin for cremation?
Items such as photographs, letters, soft toys and written messages may be most suitable to put inside a coffin.
Items made of glass, metal, PVC and plastic shouldn’t be put inside a coffin as they may cause damage to the cremator.
Also, larger items that take longer to burn (and thus, lengthen the cremation process) may be removed by the funeral director before the cremation.
Forms provided by the crematorium will explain what can and cannot be put inside a coffin (and the funeral director can provide advice too).