We often get asked a number of questions regarding the crematorium and its process, which of course, we're happy to answer. As these questions come up quite often, we thought we'd answer them all in this myth-busting post...
1. Does the coffin 'move off'?
No. It is a common perception that, at the end of a service, the coffin can be seen moving away by automation either horizontally or vertically. At both Distington and Carlisle at least, this does not happen - the coffin does not move anywhere while mourners are in the Chapel. It is only after everyone has departed that the coffin is moved from the catafalque.
2. Do you have to close the curtains at the end of the service?
No. There is no requirement for the curtains to close around the coffin at the end of the service, although this is still the preference of many. Alternatives include the curtains staying open, or the lights around the catafalque dimming.
3. Is the cremator behind the doors on the catafalque?
No. Behind the doors is simply a holding room. Once the congregation have departed the Chapel, the crematorium staff open the catafalque doors and move the coffin in to the holding room, where any floral tributes are removed before being displayed outside.
4. Are fittings removed from the coffin before cremation?
No. For the purpose of cremation, all coffin fittings are of a simple plastic construction, although they may appear to be solid metal. Bar any flowers or personal effects, the coffin is cremated as received.
5. Are coffins re-used?
No. As above, the coffin is cremated as received. The coffins used are normally constructed for the purpose of cremation. An exception may be when a 'coffin cover' is used, which is a wooden construction, designed to contain a cardboard coffin - the cardboard coffin is cremated and the cover is designed to be re-used.
6. Does more than one body get cremated at a time?
No. The cremator has capacity for only one coffin at a time and regulations are as such.
7. Is it really their ashes you receive?
Yes. Once the coffin is received into the crematory, it is labelled throughout the entire process. As only one coffin is cremated at a time, only one person's cremated remains are recovered after the cremation takes place. They are then labelled as they go through the final process, called cremulation, where the cremated remains are ground down to what we recognise as 'ashes'. The 'ashes' are then placed in to a labelled receptacle of choice.
8. Does there have to be a service?
No. There's no legal requirement to hold a funeral or committal service. Holding a cremation without a service, and often without anyone present, is known as a Direct Cremation.
9. Is there a time-limit to a service?
Yes, in theory. A standard time-slot at Distington Crematorium is 45 minutes, which is usually ample for the congregation to arrive, hold a service of up to 30 minutes and for the congregation to depart. It is possible, however, to book more than one time slot to enable an extended service or allow for the movement of a large congregation without impacting on any service beforehand or afterwards. Other crematoria may have different standard times.
10. Are flowers re-used?
No. All floral tributes at each funeral are unique to that funeral. They are displayed after the service, but it is then the preference of the funeral organiser what ultimately happens to them. Often, they are left at the crematorium where they remain on display for approximately one week before disposal. Family may opt to take the flowers, or often ask the Funeral Director to collect them to either use if the ashes are being buried or if the flowers are being donated elsewhere.