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How many cremations are there?
About 70 per cent of all recorded deaths are now followed by
cremation. Medway Crematorium currently undertakes approximately
2,700 cremations per year.
Is cremation more expensive than burial?
No, usually the cost of burial is much higher than the fee for
cremation, but much of this cost relates to grave purchase, which
Is it necessary for the cremation to be associated with a
No, the deceased’s family can make any service arrangements that
they consider appropriate. Secular services can be conducted at the
crematorium or, if preferred, a ceremony need not be held. Memorial
services can be held separately from the cremation in local places
of worship by arrangement with the minister concerned. Indeed
personal choice is becoming more common and families may even make
their own arrangements.
How is a cremation arranged?
A number of things must be arranged after a death. The
responsibility for making these arrangements may fall on the
nearest surviving relative or the executor of the will. He (or she)
can ask a professional funeral director to undertake some of the
arrangements on their behalf. The funeral director will discuss
with the family their wishes for the funeral service and will help
complete the necessary paperwork. The funeral director will also
arrange for the collection of the body and will obtain the medical
certificates. The death must be registered and the funeral director
can assist with this too. Cremation cannot take place
until two independent doctors and the Crematoriums own medical
referee have completed certain documentation. The Medical Referee
must be satisfied that the cremation can proceed before they give
authority to cremate. Very occasionally they may not be
satisfied and the cremation has to be cancelled or postponed until
further investigations are made. It is important that all
application forms are completed in full, accurately and
Do relatives need to decide at this stage about the disposal of
The funeral director will discuss with relatives what they wish
to happen to the ashes of the deceased. The crematorium must be
formally notified of the wishes of the family, but if they are
undecided it will be possible for the ashes to be retained, either
at the crematorium or at the funeral directors premises, until they
have decided. The Crematorium will, unless instructed otherwise,
generally make arrangements for disposal three weeks after the
What are the normal options for the disposal of cremated
The ashes may be scattered at the crematorium by or in the
presence of a Bereavement Services operative or they can be taken
for disposal somewhere else. If the ashes are to be buried in a
grave, scattered at another crematorium or disposed of privately,
permission should be obtained from the appropriate authority
What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral?
The mourners gather at the crematorium a few minutes before the
funeral service. When the mourners are ready to proceed, the coffin
is taken into the chapel by the funeral director (unless family
bearers have been requested). The coffin is placed on
the catafalque and mourners take their seats and the service
begins. At the moment during the service when the committal of the
body takes place, the curtains are usually closed (although these
may be left open upon request) and the service then may draw
to a close. At the end of the service the mourners are directed
outside to view the floral tributes.
What happens to the coffin after the committal?
After the coffin is taken to the committal room, the nameplate
is carefully checked. An identity card accompanies the coffin and
the ashes from then on until their final disposal. The coffin as
received at the crematorium is cremated and no staff are permitted
to interfere with the coffin.
Is the cremation of a body governed by a code of ethics and
Members of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities are
required to operate strictly in accordance with a code of cremation
practice. The code is displayed at the crematorium.
How soon after the service does the cremation take place?
The cremation will take place shortly after the service. The
code of cremation practice specifies that the cremation is always
completed within 72 hours of the receipt of the coffin, but unless
there are major disruptions to plant and equipment, cremations at
Medway take place on the same day as the service.
Is the coffin cremated with the body?
The coffin is placed in the cremator as it arrived at the
crematorium. Regulations require that the coffin and all its
fittings must be suitable for cremation and the Environmental
Protection Act 1990 states that the process must be carried out
under controlled conditions so that the impact on the environment
is minimised. Any items included in the coffin for viewing before
the funeral are removed by the funeral director before the coffin
is taken to the crematorium. Flowers may not be included with the
coffin for cremation.
Should items of jewellery be left on the body for
Usually, all items of jewellery are removed before the coffin is
conveyed to the crematorium. Let the funeral director know your
wishes in this respect when the funeral arrangements are being
discussed. The crematorium does not open the coffin, nor
remove any jewellery before cremation. Once in the cremator,
these items cannot be retrieved.
Can more than one body be cremated in a cremator at the same
Each cremation is carried out separately according to the code.
Exceptions may be made, for instance in case of mother and baby or
young twin children, but this must be specifically requested by the
person applying for the cremation as this is not something that the
crematorium would contemplate without written authority.
What happens to the cremated remains after cremation?
After a cremation the ashes are taken in a special container to
a treatment area. The metals from the coffin and from medical
implants are removed and disposed of separately. Nothing else is
salvaged, in accordance with the code of cremation practice.
How are cremated remains kept separate?
A cremator takes only one coffin at a time and all remains are
removed before the unit can be used again. An identity card
accompanies the coffin and ashes at every stage of the process. The
code of ethics and practical necessity combine to ensure that the
separation of cremated remains is achieved.
How are cremated remains treated at the crematorium?
The ashes are taken from the cremator, cooled and put into a
purpose-made unit after any ferrous metals are removed, which
reduces the residue to a fine consistency suitable for disposal.
Finally the ashes are put into a carefully identified container for
collection. All metals are currently disposed off at the
crematorium, but this is under review with possibilities for
certain metals (those used in surgery for example) to be recycled.
Precious metals are not recovered.
What happens to the cremated remains strewn on the ground?
The ashes are normally distributed over a wide area of ground or
around a specific numbered tree where they quickly break down so
that within a few days little trace of them can be seen.
What should you do if you want to choose to be cremated?
Leave clear instructions in writing for the person who will be
responsible for arranging your funeral. Because instructions are
not binding in law, make sure that he or she is likely to carry out
your wishes. The final decision will rest with the executors. You
can discuss any of the above with the staff at Medway crematorium
who will be pleased to arrange for you to visit the
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