How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?
Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures show that just
over 70% of all funerals are cremations.
Do any religious groups forbid cremation?
All current Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation, as do Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists. It is
however forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims.
Is cremation more expensive than burial?
No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The
only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary
certificates. This does not apply to burial.
What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?
The service for burial and cremation can be fundamentally the same apart from the committal sentences. A fuller service can take place prior to
arrival at Mortlake Crematorium or you can have the whole service here. Alternatively, you may have no service at all.
How is a cremation arranged?
The Cremation Regulations are complex and many people approach a funeral director immediately death occurs, and advise him that they wish to
arrange a cremation. The funeral director will ensure that all the necessary statutory forms for cremation are obtained and presented to the
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Can a cremation be arranged without the services of a funeral director?
Yes. The Executor or nearest surviving relative may arrange the cremation service themselves. Cremation authorities, like Mortlake, that are in
membership of the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management’s Charter for the Bereaved will provide advice to persons arranging a
cremation without the use of a funeral director.
Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?
Yes. This is positively encouraged at Mortlake.
Is the coffin cremated with the body?
Yes. The Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management (ICCM) Guiding Principles state that the coffin and the body shall be placed in
cremator and the cremation commenced. The coffin or container with the body inside shall not be opened or otherwise disturbed, other than in
exceptional circumstances, and then only with the express permission and in the presence of the Applicant for Cremation (usually the executor or
next of kin).
How soon after the service will the cremation take place?
The ICCM Guiding Principles state that the container and the body shall be placed in a cremator and cremation commenced no later than 72 hours
after the service of committal. Where cremation may not be carried out on the same day, the Applicant for Cremation shall be notified. In most
cases the cremation will have commenced within minutes of the family departing the chapel/ceremony hall at Mortlake.
How are cremated remains kept separate?
A cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the remains are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card is
used throughout the whole process until the final disposal, thereby ensuring correct identification.
What happens to the cremated remains after cremation?
The law relating to cremation requires that cremated remains are disposed of in accordance with the written instructions of the applicant (usually
the executor or nearest surviving relative). At Mortlake unfortunately, due to the limited size of the gardens of remembrance, cremated remains can
only be scattered without a memorial. If you choose for them to be collected however then your options are almost limitless. For example you
could purchase a new cremated remains plot in a local cemetery. There is no need to make a hurried decision with regard the final resting place of
the remains since Mortlake will hold the remains for as long as you wish subject to a monthly fee. But, if we have been asked to hold them we will,
after about a month, write a letter to the applicant for the cremation. Should the Mortlake Crematorium Board receive no reply to their letter with
fourteen days they are legally entitled to chose and record a place within their gardens for the scattering.
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What happens to the any precious metals or orthopaedic implants?
All metals remaining following cremation will be disposed of in the most suitable manner to reduce the impact to our environment. This will
include the sensitive recycling of orthopaedic implants and metal residues to avoid the usage of non-renewable resources and comply with
existing legislation. After cremation any metals present will be removed from the cremated remains and held at the crematorium. Periodically, all
metal so recovered will be collected and taken to a central point within the UK for recycling. The Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management
(ICCM) has contracted the company OrthoMetals to carry out the collection and recycling of metals on a non-commercial, open accounting basis.
All surplus monies derived from the recycling scheme will be distributed amongst selected Charities with confirmation from such charities
posted on the ICCM website (www.iccm-uk.com).
Should the Applicant wish to dispose of any metal residues in any other way e.g. returned to them) then they will be asked to indicate this prior
to the cremation taking place.
Can more than one body be cremated at a time?
No, each cremation is carried out separately. The aperture through which the coffin passes in the cremator and the cremation chamber are of
dimensions that will only safely accept one coffin. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small twin children,
so long as the next of kin or executor has made this specific request.
Are coffins sold back to funeral directors for re-use?
Emphatically not ! The coffin and the body inside are cremated together. There are occasions where the deceased or the family of the deceased
have opted for using a cardboard coffin in which their loved one will be cremated. When this happens families sometimes want to have a more
aesthetically pleasing outer coffin or container on the catafalque during the service. Families therefore will opt for either a pall (a cloth
covering the cardboard coffin), or a ‘cocoon coffin’ (an outer shell that covers the cardboard coffin) or will decorate a cardboard coffin
themselves. Neither the pall nor the cocoon is cremated. It is important to understand that the pall and cocoon do NOT contain the body of the
deceased; they are simply superficial coverings for another form of coffin.
Can I visit to see what happens behind the scenes?
Yes. At Mortlake you can call into the office, without prior appointment, and request to see all that takes place - whether cremations are taking
place or not; the choice is yours. This open door policy helps to dispel the myths that abound. On seeing the cremation process the viewer can
be reassured that all cremations take place individually, coffins are cremated with the deceased and that identity is maintained throughout the
process so that a family can be sure that they receive the correct cremated remains.
Where can I find out more information about cremation?
The ICCM’s Charter for the Bereaved gives detailed information about all aspects of the cremation process and encompasses environmental
and social aspects. You can obtain a full reference copy of the Charter document from their website at www.iccm-uk.com.
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