Burial or Cremation
Check the will to see if there are any instructions for the funeral left by the deceased. If there are no requests left by the deceased, it is generally up to the executor or next of kin to decide whether the body is to be cremated or buried.
The funeral director will help you to decide where the body should stay until the funeral, and the starting point, time and place of the funeral.
If there is to be a service or ceremony, contact the appropriate person for the religion or belief concerned. If you are not sure what to do or who to contact, the funeral director should be able to help you. You can choose the place for the funeral service which can be at the church or crematorium or indeed anywhere: a hotel, stately home, golf course, football ground or theatre (see our feature on funeral venues) but you will need to get permission. You may also be able to choose the person to conduct the service. You do not have to hold a religious service. You can design your own non-religious service.
You also need to decide whether you want flowers for the funeral or perhaps donations for a named charity. If you want flowers and a cremation is planned, you can decide what should be done with the flowers. The local hospital or old people’s home may be pleased to accept the cut flowers. (See our feature on funeral flowers).
Cremation – No one can be cremated until the cause of death is definitely known. Five forms from the funeral director or crematorium have to be completed. They are:
- Application Form (Cremation Form 1) signed by the next of kin or executor.
- Two Crematorium certificates (Cremation Forms 4 and 5) each signed by a different doctor. You have to pay for these and they are normally organised by the funeral director or crematorium. If the death is referred to the coroner, these two certificates are not needed. Instead the coroner will give you form E which is a Certificate for Cremation which is free.
- A Certificate (Cremation Form 10) signed by the medical referee at the crematorium. The medical referee has the power to refuse cremation and either request a post-mortem examination to be made or refer the matter to the coroner.
- Certificate for Burial or Cremation issued by the registrar. This form is not required if the coroner has issued a Certificate for Cremation.
Cremated remains – Ashes can be scattered in a garden of remembrance or in a favourite spot, buried in a churchyard or cemetery, or kept. It is very important to make quite clear what you want to be done with the remains. If no wishes have been expressed it is the responsibility of the funeral director or crematorium staff to contact the relative before disposal.
In the case of babies and very young children there may be no ashes following a cremation.
Arrangements can be made for the placing of a memorial plaque at some crematoria. But there may be a charge for erecting one.
Burial – Find out if the deceased had already arranged a grave space in a churchyard or cemetery by checking the will and looking through their papers.
Churchyards – Most town churchyards and many suburban churchyards are no longer open for burial because there is no space. If you want the burial to be in a churchyard, you can find out from the priest or minister about the space and the right to burial there. Use the Bereavement Today crematoria search facility on the home page to locate your nearest options.
Cemeteries – There will be a deed of grant if a grave space has been paid for in a cemetery. Most cemeteries are non-denominational so you can have most types of ceremony or service. Non-denominational cemeteries are owned by local authorities or private companies, and fees vary. Use the Bereavement Today crematoria search facility on the home page to locate your nearest options.
Religious burial – If you need to arrange burial or a funeral service according to the requirements of a particular religion you can seek advice from a minister of that religion or the religious organisation to which the deceased belonged.