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Burial versus Cremation

Burial and cremation are the two main ways to honour the dead in the UK. See below the processes involved for each and we hope that it will help you consider what is best for you. We have also linked to a couple of sites below that offer a more detailed insight about each of the processes.


Cremation is the process of burning the body which is subsequently reduced to ashes. Cremation is also thought of as being more environmentally friendly than burial and a much cheaper option too. Cremation now accounts for around 70% of funerals in the UK.

At a cremation service there will be a short ceremony in the chapel at the crematorium, this can be conducted by your vicar, funeral director or another independant person. The actual cremation takes place very soon after the service where each coffin is cremated separately and the remains kept individually. In most cases the remains will be ready for collection as soon as the next working day after the funeral although there will be no pressure for you to collect them. Also be aware that in the case of a small baby or stillborn, there maybe little or no ashes at all.


Burial is more accustomed in the Western world and many religions choose burial over cremation as some frown on or even ban cremation. However, in the UK we do have a big issue now with space; basically we are running out of places to bury people and because of this burial plots are becoming increasingly more expensive. grave

If you decide on a burial whether it be a churchyard cemetry or woodland site the grave will always be prepared in advance. If the funeral is a religious service there maybe a service in a church or by the graveside, otherwise the service could be held in the chapel of the cemetery or some other secular venue. Following the service the coffin will be taken to the graveside; not all mourners will wish to be at the actual burial but for those who do a few words will be said at the graveside, this is known as the "committal". Following the committal the coffin will be lowered into the grave and sometimes soil or flowers will be scattered on top of the coffin. After the burial it is normal to have a gathering of the mourners, this is known as a wake.

We have come across a page from Tameside Council, it details a list of frequently asked questions concerning burials and cremations, you may find it interesting and it may answer some of your questions.
Click here to visit the page. Most councils will have a list of FAQ's on their websites regarding cremation and burials; you will find it by searching through their Bereavement Services section.

You may also find further information at the ICCM (Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management) who's aim is to raise standards of services to the bereaved by providing professionals, authorities and companies with policy and best practice guidance, and educational and training programmes. Click here to visit the ICCM website where you can download their "Charter for the Bereaved".