Burial or Cremation

The choice between burial and cremation is a very personal one. The decision may be influenced by family tradition, religion or the wishes of the person who had died. It is important to discuss your wishes with your family and to know the preferences of your family members. If the deceased did not state a preference, then the executor of the will or the next of kin will have to decide.

With the rising costs of funeral expenses, many people are choosing cremation rather than burial. Current figures suggest that around 77% of all funerals are cremations. You may want a religious funeral ceremony to be held on your behalf. All Christian denominations allow cremation as do other main religions, although Orthodox Judaism and Islam forbid cremation. You can have a religious or a non-religious service, or no service at all.


What happens at a burial?

The service for the burial is normally held at a church, cemetery chapel or by the graveside and is conducted by a minister or church celebrant. If a non-religious funeral has been arranged, the service will usually be held in the cemetery chapel or other secular venue. Once the service has been completed, the burial will then take place.Before a burial can be permitted, the certificate for disposal must be handed to the cemetery register (normally undertaken by the funeral director). If a grave is already in existence, you will need to provide the deeds or relevant documentation.You may opt for a green funeral which is a natural burial on a site serving a conservation purpose. Woodland burials usually take place on open ground, and a tree is then planted to mark the site.


What is cremation?

Cremation is the process in which intense heat is used to transform the body back to its natural elements. The cremation will take place on the same day as the service. Mourners gather at the crematorium at the arranged time and once the coffin is in place, the service will commence. Towards the end of the service, the curtains will usually be drawn with the coffin behind them. This is the committal ceremony.


You can choose the type of funeral ceremony that you would like:

  • A full ceremony, including a service in a church followed by a private service at the crematorium
  • A cremation followed by a memorial service or a public life celebration
  • A shorter committal service in the crematorium.

As there is no legal requirement to hold a funeral ceremony, you can choose to have a direct cremation.

All aspects of receiving the deceased at the crematorium, and the cremation itself are conducted in private. The Code of Crematoria Practice is followed, requiring cremation of the deceased on the same day as arrival wherever possible.

Five forms are usually required by the crematorium before the cremation can take place. These are:

  • An application form (to be signed by the executor or next of kin)
  • Two cremation certificates (Cremation Form 4 and Form 5)
  • Cremation Form 10
  • The certificate for disposal

The Funeral Director can help organise the cremation forms for you. Click here for more information: Visit Justice.gov.uk


The ashes are usually available within 48 hours following the cremation. You can arrange through the funeral director for the ashes to be scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. Alternatively, ashes can be kept in the family home, scattered in a public place or interred in a family grave site.


When you arrange a funeral, you are responsible for paying the bill. The average funeral in the UK now costs more than £3000 (for a cremation and funeral), rising at a rate of 7.2% per year. A simple, direct cremation costs from £1000 with an additional cost if the ashes of the deceased are requested. A funeral and burial tends to be more expensive, costing around £4,500. There may be additional fees for purchasing a new grave or a charge for opening or reopening the grave. For more information on the cost of a funeral visit The average cost of a funeral

Return to top of page