Decide whether to be cremated or buried, and if you’re concerned about the environment, think about a woodland burial.
Cremation is chosen by 74 per cent of the British population. The majority of the funeral ceremonies take place in the crematorium chapel, though some have a church funeral service before a short service of committal at the crematorium.
There are some 273 crematoria in the UK, so in most cases a crematorium will be reasonably easy to reach.
At the end of the committal ceremony or service, the body is cremated and the family is given an urn containing the deceased’s ashes. The ashes can be interred (buried in a shallow space) at the crematorium, or a cemetery or churchyard, if you get permission from the cemetery or church. Some people choose to have their ashes interred in the space at a cemetery where their partner or close loved one is buried.
Ashes can also be spread on specially designated gardens at crematoria. There are now many different ways ashes can be disposed of. See this article for more information.
Cremation is not environmentally friendly as energy is used to cremate the body and coffin and toxins are released into the environment.
Burial is chosen by 26 per cent of the UK population, using churchyards and council owned cemeteries.
If you have been a regular at your church, you may be able to be buried in the churchyard, unless there is no space.
Check with your local church or funeral director to see if the church you wish to have your funeral service at will be willing to carry out the event and have space for the burial of the body.
When a churchyard is full, existing graves may be opened for additional interments of the same family.
Increasingly, Woodland Burial cemeteries are being chosen and conventional cemeteries are also opening 'green areas'.
Burial is more expensive than cremation. The reasons are that manpower is involved to prepare the grave and the occupation of ‘real estate’.
Maintenance of the grave also increases the cost of burial.
The main procedural difference when arranging the cremation is that after the death certificate is obtained and the death registered, the funeral company will obtain a second doctor’s certificate from an independent medical practitioner as a further check against unlawful killing.
Making the decision
The reasons for choosing one method over the other are usually linked to what your family or community normally does, the cost, and the individual’s feelings.
Cremation is more modern, and can still be part of a religious service.
Cremation is a quicker process than burial, and some see this as a benefit as it reduces the sad and stressful time taken by the funeral. Others may want more time for mourners to consider the departed life.
Burials are more traditional, and often the choice of those wanting a religious funeral.
Woodland burials are now increasingly the choice of those wanting a 'green' funeral or an alternative funeral.
Choosing for yourself
If you don't choose burial or cremation for your funeral, your family will make the decision, so if make this one of the instructions in your funeral plan.