Eric F. Box Funeral Directors

Celebrating remarkable lives with memorable funerals


Frequently Asked Questions

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

1968 was the year in which the number of cremations exceeded disposal by burial for the first time. Since then the proportion has increased and now approaches 75% of all funerals.

Are there any religious groups, which forbid cremation to their members?

Yes. Today all Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation but Orthodox Jews and Muslims forbid it. It is the normal method for Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists.

Is cremation dearer than burial?

No, generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation. The funeral director’s charges are much the same for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to the Coroner; therefore, fees to two doctors have to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial. With cremation there are no later costs for headstones, grave care, etc, which arise with burial.

What happens to the coffin after the committal?

It is withdrawn into a committal room where the name plate of the coffin is checked with the cremation order to ensure correct identity. The coffin is then labelled with a card prepared by the crematorium giving all the relevant information. This card will stay with the body from now on until the final disposal of the cremation ashes.

Does the cremation take place immediately or are the coffins stored up until a number are ready to be cremated?

Where possible the cremation will follow immediately after the service. The Code of Cremation Practice, which is adhered to by the members of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities, requires that the cremation shall take place on the same day as the cremation service.

Is the coffin cremated with the body?

Yes. The Code requires that nothing must be removed from the coffin after it has been received from the chapel and it must be placed into the cremator exactly as received.

What happens with the handles and other coffin fittings?

Crematorium regulations require that all fittings shall be of combustible material and normally the handles and name plate are today made of hard plastic. Ferrous nails and screws do not burn and stay with the ashes until they are withdrawn from the cremator when they are subjected to a magnetic field which removes them.

What about precious and other metals?

The temperature at which a modern cremator operates (between 800°C and 1000°C) is such that metals are fused with other material so that they are not recognisable. The Code of Practice states that any metallic material resulting from a cremation should be disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the cremation authority, and recommends that this should be done by burial within the cemetery grounds.

What would you recommend to people then about leaving items of jewellery on a body?

The best advice is that it should be removed after death unless it is intended that it should be cremated.

Once the coffin has been placed in the chapel there is no way of recovering such items.

Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in a cremator?

No. The only exceptions permitted to this rule are in the case of a mother and baby or twin children when the next of kin requests that the two be cremated together.

Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?

Yes. Normally two persons are permitted to attend and the crematorium should be advised in advance of this wish.

How do I know I will get the right cremated remains?

Each coffin is identified on arrival and the identity card is placed on the outside of the cremator as soon as the coffin is placed into it. The card stays there until the cremated remains are removed and it is then transferred to the cooling tray. The cremated remains then go to the preparation room and the card stays with them, finally being placed in the urn, which contains the prepared remains. As each cremator will only accept one coffin and the cremated remains must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all cremated remains are kept separate throughout the process.

Preparation of the cremated remains has been mentioned. What does this entail?

When the cremation is complete, that is when there is no further combustion taking place, the cremated remains are withdrawn from the cremator into a cooling tray. Often cooling is accelerated by means of air blown on to them by means of a fan blower. When cool, the ferrous material is removed by means of a magnetic field. The remaining cremated remains are then placed into a machine, which reduces the remains to a fine white ash. All non-ferrous metals are cleared and disposed of in accordance with the Code of Practice.