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What happens at a cremation? | Birmingham City Council

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What happens at a cremation?

Mourners (people who attends a funeral) normally gather in the waiting room or close to the chapel entrance shortly before the funeral service.

As soon as the deceased’s (person who’s died) close family and friends have arrived and are ready, pallbearers (people helping to carry the coffin) will carry the coffin into the chapel. The coffin is placed at the front of the chapel, the mourners take their seats and the service begins.

At the end of the service, the mourners leave the chapel. The crematorium staff then take the coffin from the chapel to the committal room.

The committal room

While in the committal room the coffin’s nameplate is carefully checked by crematorium staff and an identity card is added.

The identity card will stay with the coffin and ashes (after the cremation) until they’re scattered, buried or removed from the crematorium.

The cremation

The cremation usually takes place shortly after the service, but always on the same day.

Crematorium staff place the coffin in the cremator in the same condition that it arrived at the crematorium in, minus any flowers that may have been placed on top. It’s important that the coffin doesn’t contain any items that you may want to keep, such as jewellery; it won’t be possible to return any items that are still on the body once it arrives at the crematorium.

In most cases each cremation is carried out separately. The only time when this might not be the case is for a mother and baby, or twins, but only if the next of kin have asked for this to happen.

Cooling and treatment areas

At the end of the cremation, the crematorium staff remove all the cremated remains from the cremator and take them to a cooling area.

The cremation of an adult will normally result in 2 to 4kg of ashes. Unfortunately, in the case of the body of an infant, it may not be possible to guarantee there will be any remains to collect. This is because their skeleton may still be largely made of cartilage, rather than bone, due to their age.

Once cool, the staff place the remains in a special container and take them to a treatment area. While in the treatment area, the crematorium staff will remove any metal and get rid of it in an appropriate way. They will then store the ashes in a suitable and carefully labelled container until they’re scattered or collected by the deceased’s friends and family.

If you have any questions, the Registrar at your local crematorium will be pleased to help answer them.