Cremation or the burning of a body and reducing it to ash, is a popular alternative to a burial in the United Kingdom, with a large segment of society choosing cremation for their own remains. Cremations may only be carried out after a death has been registered and proper certification issued from the relevant authorities – the General Register Office (GRO) in England and Wales, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland and the General Register Office (Northern Ireland). Each individual has the opportunity to leave instructions for cremation in their own wills, or to let their friends and relatives know of their wishes. What is to be done with the ashes is also something that may be stipulated in a will, or left up to relatives and friends to decide.
Registering a Death
In order to register a death and procure the necessary certificates to go ahead with a cremation, certain information must be given to the relevant authorities. In England and Wales any medical certificates stating the cause of death, the deceased s birth certificate, any marriage or civil partnership certificates and the deceased s NHS card should be brought the local register office. In Scotland, the medical certificate stating the cause of death, the deceased s birth and marriage certificate (if there is one), the deceased s NHS card and any documents relating to the deceased s government pension should be brought to the local registrar office. In Northern Ireland, a medical certificate stating the cause of death should be brought to the District Registrar. Upon completion of all necessary forms and proof of all required document, relevant certificates will be issued allowing a cremation to commence.
Most crematoria in the United Kingdom are run by local authorities. Chapels are usually on the grounds, and short ceremonies are often conducted before the cremation. Usually these services are less than an hour long, and the family can work together to decide what will take place during that time, whether it be music, speeches, readings and/or quiet remembrance and prayer. After the service the cremation will take place. Some cremations do include a coffin, though cheaper alternatives such as cardboard may also be allowed. The ashes that result from a cremation are then collected and housed in the chosen vessel, and they are released to a designated individual. What is to be done with the ashes may be stipulated in the individual s will, such as released into the wind on their land, scattered at a favourite spot or buried in their garden or a chosen churchyard. If nothing is stipulated, family members can decide how best to honour their loved ones.
Hosting a Memorial Service
Some crematoria offer the option of purchasing a small plaque with which to honour your loved one, but many families choose to host a memorial service with their own memorial monuments at a later date. Whether it be a small statute in the back garden or a special bench in the local park, memorials should be particular to the deceased and pay tribute to his or her memory in a special way. A small ceremony may accompany the unveiling of these memorials, in which someone close to the deceased reads a short piece or gives a short speech, and a gathering or reception following this ceremony is a wonderful way to finish the day.
Organising a cremation is no harder than organising a funeral, it just requires slightly different documents and decisions. If you are interested in cremations, contact your local register office or registrar for further information.