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Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions that are often asked about death and funerals. Due to the nature of the subject, many of these questions do not get answered as well as they should be, causing confusion and misinformation. We have attempted to answer a selection of commonly asked questions on this page. If you have a question not covered here please feel free to contact us.
Why do we have a funeral service?

Since the beginning of time, a funeral has been the customary way to recognise death and its finality. Funerals are recognised rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to say good-bye and to help those left behind move on in the grieving process.

What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. We make the arrangements for transportation of the deceased, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final resting of the body. Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. We have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. We are trained to help with all funeral related matters and answer any questions you may have.
Why are funerals so expensive?
When compared with other major events in life like births and weddings, funerals are not so expensive. A wedding can cost much, much more but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticised.

Professional funeral providers offer a 24-hour, labour-intensive business with extensive facilities (chapels of rest, offices, limousines, hearses as well as many other items of specialised equipment which are all costly to both purchase and maintain). These expenses must all be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only fixtures and fittings such as coffins, but the services of a funeral director and all of their staff in making arrangements, filing appropriate forms, dealing not just with preparing the deceased but also with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others. We oversee all the necessary details and work diligently to ensure everything runs smoothly and goes to plan as you would wish.

A loved one has died at home, what should I do?
If a death, which has been expected, occurs at home or at a nursing home, the doctor who has been treating the deceased should be contacted in the first instance. Provided the deceased has seen a the doctor within the previous 14 days, the doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred, or will give permission for the deceased to be transferred into our care, if that is your wish.

Once the doctor has said you may do so, you can contact us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to come and convey the deceased from the place of death into our care and to address any questions or concerns that you may have about procedures at that time.

A loved one has died in hospital, what should I do?
If your loved one has been a hospital in-patient, the doctors who have been treating the deceased will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Ask the ward staff or doctor what you need to do to collect this certificate. The deceased will usually be taken by hospital staff to the mortuary from where they may be taken into our care.
The Doctor has stated he won’t issue the medical certificate of cause of death. Why not?
If the doctor cannot issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, it is usually because the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to HM Coroner for further investigation. It should be remembered that a doctor can only complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they know the cause of death having seen the deceased for this illness in the 14 days prior to death occurring. If this is not the case then the death will automatically be passed to the coroner as a matter of procedure.

Other reasons the doctor may not issue the medical certificate of cause of death would include (but not restricted to) if the deceased:

– has died a violent or an unnatural death

– has died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown

– has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest

If the death does not fall into these criteria but the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease, then it is probable that the doctor will not complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death but refer the death to HM Coroner in whose sub-district the death occurred.

If the death is referred to the coroner, their office will arrange for the deceased to be taken to their mortuary in order that the death can be investigated and, if necessary, an inquest opened.

Why do doctors charge for cremation forms?

In the UK it is unlawful for the deceased to be cremated before the cause of death has been ascertained and properly recorded. This cause of death must formally verified by a second doctor who works entirely independently from the first doctor.  The doctors charge is to cover the cost of the doctors carrying out their statutory duties. 

Do I have to register the death?
Yes – all deaths have to be registered by law and the people closest to the deceased person have a legal obligation to do this. Deaths in England and Wales or Northern Ireland should be registered within 5 days – if this is not going to be possible, you should inform the Registrar. In Scotland, deaths must be registered within 8 days.
What do I need to register the death?

When registering a death that was expected and that has occurred in England or Wales, you will need to take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you. If at all possible, take the following belonging to the deceased:

– birth certificate

– council tax bill

– driving licence

– marriage or civil partnership certificate

– NHS medical card

– passport

– proof of address (ie utility bill)

You will need to tell the registrar:

– the person’s full name at the time of death

– any names previously used, ie maiden name

– the person’s date and place of birth

– their last address

– their occupation

– the full name, birth date and occupation of a surviving/late spouse/civil partner

– whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits

You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (ie a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them. The informant will then sign the register, certifying that the information that has been given to the registrar is correct.

When the Coroner is involved, the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is replaced by one from HM Coroner. The Coroner’s Office will be able to advise you when you will be able to attend the Registrar’s Office to register the death.

Do I have to register the death before arranging the funeral?
You don’t need to have registered the death to begin making arrangements with us. However you must register the death before the funeral will be able to take place.
We aren’t really religious, do we have to have a religious minister to take the service?
No, not at all. There is no legal requirement to hold a religious funeral service and there are a growing number of alternative funeral types. You can discuss this with the funeral director who will be able to inform you of all the options available to you.
What are cremated remains?
They are simply the remains left after the cremation process is completed. They are more commonly known as the ‘ashes.’
How much cremated remains will there be following a cremation?
An adult will normally result in between 2kg and 4kg of cremated remains. Due to the skeleton being comprised of much more cartilage in infants, there may be very little to no remains left behind for collection.
When does the cremation take place after the funeral service?
In most cases, the cremation takes place very soon after the service but this may be delayed slightly in cases when it would allow the crematorium to operate more efficiently.

For instance, in some crematoriums, the cremators are heated by electricity and are pre-heated overnight on ‘greener’ off-peak power. This means that they may be unused for several hours before the first funeral of the day then a period of intense use follows to deal with the afternoon services. To save energy, the cremation of coffins from the later afternoon services may be delayed until the following morning.

Is the coffin really cremated with the body?
Yes – it is a requirement that the coffin is placed into the cremator in exactly the same condition as it was received at the crematorium. Regulations are in place that require that the coffin and all its fittings and furnishings be made from materials safe for cremation.
Can I leave jewellery on a body that is to be cremated?
Whilst it is possible, it is preferable that all items of jewellery be removed from the body before the coffin is taken to the crematorium. Your requirements will be ascertained by your funeral director when you arrange the funeral.

It is important to understand that it is not possible to recover any items of jewellery after the coffin has begun its final journey from the chapel of rest to the crematorium.

Can more than one body be cremated in the cremator at the same time?
No. Requirements demand that each cremation is carried out separately. However exceptions may be made; for instance in the case of mother and baby or twin children but this would not occur without the specific request from the next of kin.
Are the ashes that I received really those of my loved one?
A cremator can only physically hold one coffin and all remains are removed before the unit can be used again. There is a special identity card which accompanies the coffin and cremated remains throughout the process until final disposal or when the cremated remains are returned to you.
Can cremated remains be kept by the family instead of scattering at the crematorium?
Yes, they certainly can. Just indicate your wishes to your funeral director at the time of arrangement or at the earliest time possible. The remains of your loved one will be collected by us and you may collect them soon after.
What happens if I do not wish to retain the cremated remains?
The process may vary from one crematorium to another so it is worth confirming the procedure with each particular facility. Sometimes the cremated remains are strewn onto the Garden of Remembrance. From there, they quickly break down within just a few days so almost no trace of them remains. Certain Crematoria will dress the area with a suitable mixture of loam and sand.