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Preparing for Death

What Happens During the Cremation Process?

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Cremation is very popular at funerals in the UK. According to research by The Cremation Society, around 78% of people will choose cremation when they die.

Cremation is still a bit of a mystery, and if this applies to you, or you are arranging a funeral, you may want to learn more about the process.

We will provide you with some useful, straight-forward information to help you better understand the cremation process. Just make sure it’s what they want…

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Let’s start by taking a closer look at the term cremation.

What is cremation

In basic terms, cremation turns a person’s body to ashes after they die. The body is returned to its basic elements through open flames, heat, and evaporation. While they are called ashes, they are actually tiny pieces of bone.

The process takes about 2-3 hours in a crematory and some crematoriums allow for 1-2 people to witness if desired.

The cremation consists of 5 basic steps.

  1. The deceased is identified and the proper authorisation is acquired.

    • Only one person is cremated at a time, so there is no chance of mixing up the bodies. There is also a metal ID tag placed on the body.
  2. The body is prepared and placed into a proper container.

    • This involves properly washing and dressing the body, as well as removing any jewelry that is to be kept.
  3. The container with the body is moved to the cremation chamber.

    • The furnace can heat up to 2000℉
  4. After cremation, the remaining metal is removed with a large magnet and the remains are ground.

  5. The “ashes” are placed in a temporary container or an urn provided by the family.

    • The urn is returned to the family for a keepsake, or in some cases, the funeral director to dispose of if instructed.

The ashes can be buried, scattered, or returned to the family within 10 days of the cremation service.

Arranging a cremation

Now that you know what happens during a cremation, you may need help to organise one. The first thing to do is find a local reputable funeral home. It’s a good idea to speak to more than one so that you can compare services and costs. If you are arranging the cremation for yourself, ahead of time, you may also want to ask about prepaid funeral plans.

On average, you can expect to pay around £3,600 for a funeral service that involves a cremation. If you choose to arrange a direct cremation without a service, you can expect to pay around £2,000.

Arranging a service

Before the service can happen, you need to provide the following paperwork.

  • Cremation certificate: the green form you receive when you register the death
  • Cremation application: completed by a relative and sent to the Cremation Authority
  • Medical certificates: signed by a doctor who determined the cause of death and viewed the deceased

Depending on what you prefer, the cremation service can be religious or non-religious and held at various venues. Like most funerals, the family and close friends follow the hearse as a procession. The coffin is normally in view and the service usually lasts around 45 minutes. During the service, there can be an officiant, as well as eulogies, music, and readings by the family or friends.

The committal of the body happens near the end of the service. When this happens, curtains are normally drawn to hide the coffin, or the coffin is lowered out of view. If the service is at a place of worship, the funeral director takes the coffin to the crematorium afterward. After the service, the family might decide to greet people or they may even have a social or wake planned.

Also, the actual cremation of the body takes place a few hours later on the day of the service. The funeral directors keep the body at the funeral home, in cool temperatures. And if someone wants to be cremated but does not want a service, they can arrange a direct cremation.


Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what happens during cremation. And as the meme above so tastefully shares 🤣, you want to make sure you know what you and your loved ones prefer. Need help making some plans? At Bequest, this is our bread and butter. We help manage your life and death admin, including life insurance and wills. Start today.

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Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. “Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

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FF Bequest Limited, trading as Bequest, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with firm reference number 923791. You can check our authorisation on the FCA Financial Services Register by visiting the following website: register.fca.org.uk . We are registered in England and Wales, Registered office address: Founders Factory, Northcliffe House, London, United Kingdom, W8 5EH. Company Number 12367897.

Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. “Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

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