Guide to Funeral Preplanning: How to Arrange a Cremation

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Death and dying isn’t something you think about often, even though it’s an inevitable event. Knowing as much as you can about your options means you’ll be able to make an informed decision, and let’s face it, your final arrangements are just as important as any other life event. Planning your funeral and what will happen when you pass away means those you leave behind don’t have to worry about making the arrangements.

When should you plan a cremation?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. More often than not, we tend to put off planning our funerals until it’s too late. When this happens, you leave your spouse, partner, or children to make the necessary arrangements. This can feel overwhelming and even cause arguments. Whatever age you are, and at whatever stage in your life’s journey, it’s never too early to start preplanning your funeral arrangements. It’s smart to start thinking about planning your funeral sooner rather than later because funeral costs continue to rise.

How long does it take to arrange a cremation?

Arranging a cremation date will depend on the availability of the funeral director, the crematorium venue you've chosen, any celebrant leading the service and of course the family's diary. As a rule of thumb, you should expect to hold the cremation within 2 weeks of the death. We should point out that pressure on crematoriums is increasing, which means it could take up to three weeks to get an appropriate slot.

What is the cheapest way to be cremated?

The price of cremation has been steadily rising for several years, which is leaving a growing number of bereaved families struggling to pay. There is, however, a low-cost, no-frills option that caters to the ever-increasing number of people who want an affordable alternative to traditional funeral service and cremation. The cheapest way to be cremated is a direct cremation. It is the simplest cremation and so the cremation fee will be lower, however, this can still vary from £250 to more than £600, depending on the crematorium chosen. No service or ceremony occurs before the cremation, which leaves you to arrange your own farewell service.

Another way to save money - lose the funeral director

Most cremations in the UK are arranged through a funeral director but have you ever asked yourself “Can I arrange my own cremation?” There is no legal requirement to use a funeral director, but you will need to consider things such as the storage of the body, buying a suitable coffin, placing the deceased in the coffin, transport of the body and completing the legally-required paperwork. Many funeral firms are willing to work with families who want to be heavily involved and to only charge for the specific tasks they are asked to perform. Most families prefer to have professionals looking after the practical aspects but feel confident about arranging the farewell event. In this situation, a cremation provider such as Pure Cremation makes an ideal partner.

Think about your preferences and needs

The first step is to consider your preferences and needs. Questions you might want to ask yourself include:

  • What do you want?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want to be laid to rest?

There are many more options than ever before, both in the type of cremation service and your memorial service. There’s no right or wrong way to say goodbye, and it’s a matter of personal preference. Think about your own beliefs and those of your family. Find an option that fits those beliefs the best.

Consider a cremation only funeral plan

A cremation only funeral plan is one way you can plan your funeral in advance. Your basic cremation plan will include all the essential services for a simple cremation, and the price will be fixed at the time you took out the plan. A cremation only funeral plan covers (and fixes) the cost of the essential elements while leaving your family free to organise the farewell that suits their emotional needs, timescales and budget.

Consult the cremation service provider

Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to consult with cremation service providers. Finding the right provider is critical, as you only get one chance to arrange your funeral. There are several things to check when you choose a cremation service provider. But it is very important to be confident that your family will be supported and given the guidance they need when the time comes.

Make your funeral wishes known

Death is something we’re all aware of, and most people have experienced it in some way. However, when talking about death and funerals, we tend to stick our heads in the sand. Talking about death is talk about your LIFE instead. A conversation about your wishes is priceless, and much easier when discussing how you'd like your experiences, beliefs, hobbies and relationships to be celebrated and remembered. To help your loved ones follow your wishes after you’ve gone, you can also write out detailed funeral preferences regarding what to do with your ashes. For a more traditional funeral service you should consider:

  • Where you want your funeral to be held
  • Who you want to invite
  • What you want to wear
  • Who should speak
  • What music should be played
  • Who should be the pallbearers, and other relevant details?

If you make these decisions ahead of time and let everyone know your wishes, it will help your loved ones during their time of grief.

Learn about the process of cremation

Humans have been practising cremation for around 2,000 years. But for many people, the process is still a mystery. Knowing how the process of cremation works means you’ll be better informed and make confident decisions.

Does the coffin get cremated or re-used?

In the UK, most cremations feature a coffin. They are NOT re-used. There are several benefits of using a coffin:

  • It provides proper protection of the deceased during care and transportation.
  • It reduces the amount of gas required for the cremation process, as the wood contributes some fuel.
  • A coffin makes the handling of the body much easier for crematorium staff.

It is possible to be cremated without a coffin, but it’s not usual in the UK. If you really don’t want a coffin, the alternative is a shroud to cover the body. A base-board will also be used to allow for safe insertion into the cremator. However, not all crematoria allow for the option of cremation without a coffin. If you’re at all concerned about the sustainability of a wooden coffin, environmentally friendly, sustainably sourced coffins are available. Remember, you can say “No” to a fancy coffin. Pure Cremation uses an inexpensive design in plain, untreated pine sourced from sustainably managed forests.

How do you know that your family gets the right ashes?

A common worry for families considering cremation is the identity of the ashes they receive after cremation. How can you be sure the ashes returned to you are those of your loved one? Every crematorium will have processes in place to ensure that cremated remains don’t get muddled up and are correctly returned to the bereaved. Did you know that a cremation chamber can only accept one adult coffin at a time? At Pure Cremation, we are able to track each client from the first phone call to the return of the ashes thanks to:

  • QR barcoded wristbands
  • GPS tracked vans
  • Digital logging of each stage of care
  • Coffin plates or labels with three points of ID
  • Ceramic verification discs bearing a unique cremation number
  • Careful removal of the remains at the end of cremation before the next one can begin
  • Identification of each set of remains after the cremation and during final processing
  • Careful labelling of each ashes container with the name and QR code for the deceased

Cremation only plans reshape traditional funerals

A funeral is an event of two halves. The cremation can happen before or after any farewell event, which could still be a 'proper' funeral ceremony if you wanted this, and an increasingly popular option is to organise a celebration of life. People choose to remember and celebrate the lives of those they have lost, rather than mourning their passing. If you choose to preplan your funeral with a simple cremation plan, you can easily make arrangements for both the cremation and the celebration of life which can take place a week, month, or even a year after the cremation, depending on your family's preference. Remember that the costs of this event would not be covered by your simple cremation plan.

Can you have a funeral without the coffin?

Yes, it is possible to have a funeral without the coffin and here’s why you should consider this option: Without the coffin present, you can hold your farewell anywhere you want, which makes it much easier to include everyone, from young children to beloved pets! Many families use a lovely photograph or even the urn containing the ashes as an alternative focal point for their remembrance. This frees you from the crematorium diary and means you can choose a day and time that suits busy working lives - why not a weekend? And the cremation could happen more quickly because you aren’t trying to co-ordinate the family’s availability, the funeral director, and the crematorium chapel.

What do you wish your family to do with the ashes?

There are many different things your family can do with your ashes after the cremation. Which one you choose depends on how you want to be remembered. There are formal, creative, memorable, personal, and unique ideas. Some people want their ashes to be scattered. Some want them to be kept in an urn. It’s also possible for ashes to be interred, turned into jewellery, sent up into the sky, made into a tattoo, or planted along with a tree to help it grow. What you decide depends on your personal preferences and needs.

Is a direct cremation funeral plan right for you?

A direct cremation plan is one of the cheapest prepaid cremation plans, but is it the right option for you? Many people are absolutely certain that they want a total separation of the cremation from the farewell, they are completely comfortable dispensing with any sort of funeral service at the crematorium and don't wish to have family present. One benefit of this type of plan is that it allows your loved ones to plan a separate ceremony after the cremation. Other benefits include:

  • No time restraints: A direct cremation allows you to postpone the memorial service, giving loved ones more time to make any arrangements.
  • Your loved ones don’t have to witness the cremation: You might want this because they’ve had a bad experience of a funeral, or you don’t want the cremation to be their only lasting memory.
  • It’s non-religious: If you want to move away from a religious funeral, direct cremation allows you to do this.
  • Less fuss: If you don’t go in for elaborate displays or want to spend hours agonising over the details of a traditional funeral.

For more information about a Pure Cremation prepaid direct cremation funeral plan, please contact us today.