Questions people ask about Cremation

1. Is cremation dearer than burial?
Generally cremation is cheaper than burial. However, you should, discuss the matter with a funeral director or crematorium who will be able to advise you of the precise cost.
2. How many people use cremation today in Australia?
There are approximately 125,000 deaths each year in Australia and around 65,000 cremations take place. The overall average for Australia is just over 50% but in areas where cremation facilities are more readily available the rate approaches 70%..
3. Are there any religious groups which forbid cremation to their members?
Yes. It is forbidden by Orthodox Jews, most Orthodox faiths, Moslems and some other religions. However, most Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic Church allow cremation. It is the normal method of Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists.
4. What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?
Service for burial and cremation is the same apart from the form of committal. The service may take place in one’s own church or Funeral Directors Chapel with a short committal service at the crematorium chapel, or the whole service may be conducted in the crematorium chapel. Alternatively the whole service may be conducted elsewhere, with no service at the crematorium. You may arrange for your own Clergy to conduct the service at the crematorium. The form of service should be discussed with the Clergy, Celebrant and Funeral Director.
5. Must there by any religious ceremony with cremation?
No. A civil ceremony can be conducted or there may be none at all. On occasions a memorial service is conducted away from the crematorium.
6. Do I have to sign anything?
Yes. If you are the executor or the next of kin or authorised by either to do so you will be asked to complete an application for cremation and the crematorium's authority forms. You will also be asked by the crematorium to indicate your intention regarding disposal of the cremated remains. If you are undecided say so, and the crematorium will retain the remains for a reasonable period (normally 3 to 6 months).
7. What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral?
The coffin is brought into the chapel and placed on the catafalque (committal table) prior to the mourners entering and taking their seats. At the appropriate time during the service the coffin may be removed from view by the closing of curtains or the activating of a conveyance. At the end of the service the mourners leave the chapel and can inspect the floral arrangements before leaving.
8. What happens to the coffin after the service?
It is withdrawn into a committal room where the nameplate of the coffin is checked with the cremation order to ensure-correct identity. The coffin is then identified with a label giving all the relevant information. This identification then stays with the coffin until the final disposal of the cremated remains.
9. Does the cremation take place immediately, or are the coffins stored up until a number are ready to be cremated?
Depending on state laws, cremation will take place soon after the service.
10. ls the coffin cremated with the body?
11. What happens about handles and other fittings?
Some crematoria remove the fittings because of the adverse effect their chemical composition can leave on cremation chambers and also because licenses issued by the Environment Protection Authority necessitate this. Any fittings removed are destroyed.
12. What about precious metals and other metals?
The temperature at which a modern cremator operates (between 660°C and 1000°C) is such that metals may be fused together with other material so that they are not recognizable and have no salvage value. Any metallic material resulting from a cremation is disposed of in accordance with the instruction of the cremation authority (usually by burial within the crematorium grounds).
13. What do you recommend to people about leaving items of jewellery on the body?
The best advice is that jewellery should be removed after death. Once the coffin has entered the crematorium grounds the coffin cannot be opened.
14. Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in a cremator?
No. The only exceptions permitted to this rule are in the case of a mother and baby or twin children when some crematoria will accept both in the same coffin if the next of kin request that the two be cremated together.
15. Do I get the right cremation ashes?
Yes. As explained, each coffin is identified on arrival and the identity label is placed on the outside of the cremator as soon as the coffin is placed into it. This label stays there until the remains are removed and it is then transferred to the cooling tray which then goes to the preparation room. The label stays with the remains until they are placed in a container which is also suitably identified. As each cremation chamber will only accept one coffin and the remains must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all remains are kept separate throughout the process.
16. Preparation of the cremated remains has been mentioned. What does this entail?
When the cremation is complete, the remains are withdrawn from the cremator into a cooling tray. When cool any metallic material is removed and the remains are placed into a machine which reduces them to a fine, white ash.
17. How can I ensure that I am cremated when I die?
Clear instruction in writing should be given to the person who will be responsible for your funeral when you die. These instructions are not binding in law, unless written in your Will, so you should ensure that the person you instruct is someone who will carry out your wishes. The final decision rests with your executors.
18. Can I keep the cremated remains if I want, or must I dispose of them?
In most instances disposal of the cremated remains is the responsibility of the authorised person or the administrators of the estate. They may keep the cremated remains if they so wish or they may prefer to arrange a memorial, which provides a place where family and friends can pay their respects.
19. What can happen to the cremated remains?
A memorial could be arranged within the crematorium grounds, some people retain the ashes, and others request that the cremated remains be scattered. To assist the grieving process the Australasian Cemeteries & Crematoria Association recommend the cremated remains be placed in a memorial, either within the grounds of a crematorium, or outside. The memorial becomes a focal point to visit and pay respect to the deceased.
20. What memorials are possible then?
Australasian Cemeteries & Crematoria Association members provide a wide range of memorials including; gardens, rockeries, family estates, and walls etc. We would recommend you discuss your thoughts with the crematorium staff.
21. lf I wanted to know more about cremation, how should I go about it?
Please, do not hesitate to contact your local crematorium office and the staff will answer your queries. If you wish, an inspection it can be arranged.

Originally from the information brochure 'Questions people ask about Cremation' by the Australasian Cemeteries & Crematoria Association, refer Links page for web address.

It should not be assumed that the practices and policies outlined on this page are identical in all crematoria or states