The cremation process explained
In the UK, around 74% of funerals are cremation. Until you attend a cremation, the cremation process may seem a little daunting. Here we explain what happens at a cremation, how you can arrange a cremation and how much a cremation costs.
What is cremation?
Cremation is the process that transforms the body of someone who has passed away into ‘ashes’ using intense heat. The machine used to cremate bodies is called a ‘cremator’.
Cremation is often more affordable and flexible than traditional burial options, and has risen in popularity in recent years. In the UK, most cremations are arranged with the assistance of a Funeral Director or other funeral provider, although it is possible to arrange a cremation yourself with the crematorium.
A cremation takes place at a building called a crematorium and is traditionally accompanied by a service for mourners to attend in the chapel at the crematorium. The coffin will be present in the chapel throughout the cremation service. Mourners will not normally witness the cremation itself but may be able to witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator. The committal is the point where the coffin is removed from view at the end of the service.
What happens during the cremation process?
During the cremation process, the coffin will be placed into the cremator, with the deceased inside. A cremator only has the capacity for one coffin at a time, so all cremations are performed separately.
The heat inside the cremator is very intense. On average, the cremation process takes around 90 minutes to complete.
When the cremation is finished, all that is left is small fragments of bone. These remains are taken from the cremator, cooled and placed in a machine that reduces the bone to ‘ashes’. Once this has happened, the ashes are put into a simple container, fully identified with the details of the deceased.
The ashes are normally returned to the family or scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance at the crematorium. Your funeral provider will be able to advise how long it may take for the ashes to be returned; the ashes will not be returned on the day of the cremation.
Crematoriums follow a strict code of practice to ensure the cremation process is followed correctly at all times.
How much does a cremation cost?
The cost of a cremation will depend on a number of factors, including your location within the UK where the cremation will take place and the funeral arrangements you choose to make. However, the average basic cremation in the UK cost £3,885* in 2020, which includes cremation fees, Funeral Director’s fees, doctor’s fees and the cost of a minister or officiant.
The cost of a cremation is typically less than a burial. Find out more about average cremation costs, what’s typically included and the elements you may have to pay extra for.
At Simplicity, we realise that not everyone wants a costly and traditional cremation, a procession beforehand with a hearse and limousines and a service performed by a minister, and that’s why we give you an alternative choice.
We offer three low cost cremation options that allow you to arrange a funeral without the ceremonial excess that is often unwanted and unnecessary. Our cremation packages start from £995 and are available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain.
All of our cremation packages include:
- Cremation fees
- Doctor’s fees – something not all providers will include
- A simple coffin
- Collection of the deceased from the place of rest
- Transportation of the deceased in a specialised funeral vehicle
How to arrange a cremation with Simplicity
Arranging a cremation with Simplicity is a simple, straightforward process. Unlike arranging a traditional cremation, you will not have to visit a funeral home or spend hours discussing arrangements with a Funeral Director.
At Simplicity, all it takes is a phone call to get the process started. When you contact us, our expert team of telephone funeral arrangers will answer any questions you may have and explain the entire cremation process to you, from the collection of your loved one from their place of rest to the return or respectful scattering of their ashes.
To keep things simple, our funeral packages are based on the number of people you’d like in attendance at the cremation.
A cremation with a family-led service
An Attended Funeral is similar to a funeral arranged with a traditional Funeral Director but without the procession beforehand. You can arrange a full-length service in the crematorium chapel, using the time how you wish. You may decide for the service to be led a minister or officiant, or a family member or friend. You will also have the option to play music of your choice, perform a reading or eulogy or reflect how you wish.
A small funeral
If you would like a cremation with a short service for a small group of people, our Intimate Funeral is ideal. You will be welcomed into the crematorium chapel by a chapel attendant, where you may play a piece of music of your choice, say a few words and reflect as you wish.
Unlike a traditional cremation which may begin with a procession with a hearse, limousines and pallbearers, your loved one will be resting on the catafalque in the crematorium chapel upon your arrival.
If, for whatever reason you do not want to attend the crematorium, a direct cremation could work for you.
What is direct cremation?
Direct cremation is one of the most affordable funeral options available in the UK. It differs from a traditional funeral because it takes place without any mourners present and without a service beforehand.
Families choose this option for a variety of reasons, and it's not always down to cost:
- Your loved one expressed their wishes for a low-key funeral
- Your loved one did not wish for a religious ceremony, or a ceremony at all
- Family and friends live far away, meaning it is not practical to travel to a funeral service at some notice
Many families choose direct cremation as they want to hold a celebration of life or memorial service at a time and place away from the crematorium.
As our lowest cost cremation option, an Unattended Funeral costs from £995.
Learn more about direct cremation.
What to do with ashes after cremation
Deciding what to do with the ashes of your loved one can be a very sensitive subject. Of course, you may decide you do not want to do anything with them and simply keep the ashes at home in an urn.
Many people choose to scatter or bury their loved one ashes at the Gardens of Remembrance at the crematorium or local cemetery or in one of their loved one’s favourite places.
If you are looking to do something a little different, there are now a number of unique things you can do with ashes.
To arrange a cremation for a loved one, contact us today. Our expert team will also be able to answer any questions you may have about the cremation process. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*Average cremation costs as quoted in the SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021