Five Most Common Funeral Myths Dispelled

Many of the myths that surround the service of funerals are derived from several sources.

There are a lot of myths that have been passed along the generations from the Victorian times. The Victorians held very religious practices around death and were very superstitious. Some of these have survived to modern day, although they are mostly observed by way of respect rather than still holding their superstitious value.

Movies and the media have a large part to play in creating illusions. We are all guilty of being drawn in and becoming prey to the artistic licence that is continuously used throughout this platform.

Assumption is a natural, human instinct. When presented with only partial fact, we are often left with a sense of agitation in not knowing the facts in full. This, coupled with the unease that is commonly felt in approaching a funeral director for answers, only leaves one to assume. Many conversations have been had over the dinner table, in the pub or the school playground; a group of people with a little knowledge, attempting to find the answer, will come up with one which leaves them all satisfied with what they now know.

Funeral Directors have a certain amount to answer for, although the majority of the myths that derive from within the profession are usually one offs – Poor information given by a funeral director in order that they can cover their own short comings and inabilities.

 

MYTH #1

The Ashes that you receive from the crematorium are not entirely those of the deceased – The ashes are all collected together at the end of the day and separated into equal amounts.

TRUTH

The Crematorium hold a strict identification policy. Before the coffin is taken from the Funeral Directors Hearse, a member of the crematorium staff will check the identification which has been placed on the coffin by the funeral director. This is done by way of an engraved plaque which is nailed to the breast of the coffin.

If the name on the coffin plate does not match that of whom the appointment was made, the coffin will be refused.

Once the service has taken place and the coffin is ready to be charged into the cremator, the identification is checked again by the crematorium technician. The technician will usually require up to three matching forms of ID. Name, Date of Death and Age are usual. Again, if the identification is wrong, the coffin will be refused.

The crematorium technician will then draw up and ID card which is attached to the cremator. The coffin can now enter the cremator.

The cremator, although very efficient, is also very sensitive and all emissions must be recorded throughout the cremation process. With this in mind, if more than one coffin were to enter the cremator at once or the remains were not completely cleared from its chamber after every cremation, it would not be possible to operate the cremators effectively. The remains of each coffin must be removed prior to the next. The ID card which was placed onto the cremator is removed and will accompany the remains throughout further processing.

The remains are finally placed into an Urn, with the original ID card placed inside before further Id is placed upon the Urn. The Urn is accompanied by the unique cremation certificate.

A simple (however, slightly crude) way of proving this process is that the weight of the cremated remains is relevant to the weight of the deceased prior to cremation.

If the deceased was very slight or relatively large, this is evident by the weight of the cremated remains. If the ashes were treated as per the myth, they would be split equally and would all weigh the same.

 

MYTH #2

Cremation coffins are reused/have a reusable outer shell.

TRUTH 

Coffins are NEVER reused. The coffin that you see at the crematorium is the coffin that the deceased will be cremated in. It remains the property of the next of kin and the responsibility of the funeral director. The coffin is not to be tampered with at the crematorium which means, no, the handles are not removed. The handles for cremation must be ‘metal effect’ or to put it bluntly, plastic.

The coffin serves a very real purpose throughout the funeral service as well as the process of cremation.

 

MYTH #3

Cardboard coffins are environmentally friendly and cheaper than a standard coffin.

TRUTH

Cardboard coffins are considered to be environmentally friendly for burial only. It is not however the case for cremation. Part of the cremation process is that the coffin provides a large amount of the fuel required. A cardboard coffin is burned up instantly leaving the crematorium technician having to compensate for this by further controlling the process.     

The most environmentally friendly coffin for cremation is the standard cremation coffin which is provided by your funeral director. This coffin tends to be made from recycled chipboard with a veneer to give the wood effect. The glues, varnishes and plastics used to produce the coffin are all in compliance with the strict emissions policies of the crematorium and local authority’s.

A cardboard coffin is likely to cost in excess of approx. £500.00. Our cremation coffin comes at the cost of £400.00. Prices will vary from one funeral director to another but you’ll be hard pushed to find a cardboard coffin for less than a cremation coffin.

 

MYTH #4

You must have an ordained vicar or priest to officiate a funeral and to deliver the Lord’s Prayer/Prayer of Committal.

TRUTH

Anyone can deliver a funeral service and any appropriate prayers. Family members can even do this themselves or a funeral celebrant can be appointed.

The service doesn’t need to have any aspect of faith or religion. This is all dependent upon the family and the life that they are celebrating.

A funeral service is not the same as a marriage service. All of the legal requirements are taken care of during the week or so prior to the funeral.

 

MYTH #5

If the curtains are left open at the crematorium, you will see the coffin enter into the cremator and ignite.

TRUTH

This idea is quite impractical let alone distressing.

Most crematoria are equipped with at least two cremators, plus, with the average cremation taking 2.5 hours and the services beginning every ½ hour, the opportunity to immediately cremate is a rear occurrence. Certainly when the crematorium diary is full for the day.

If a curtain is used (sometimes the catafalque will lower or some other symbolisation of finality) then there is a door on the other side through which the coffin is taken.

The coffin is then taken through to another room where the cremators are situated. This is where the relevant checks are made and the coffin will rest until a cremator is available.

All of this is not to say that, should you wish you can be taken through to watch the coffin enter into the cremator.

 

There are more, but these are the most common.

If you’ve any you’d like to share of have me answer, please comment below or contact me via personal messenger.

Death is full of the unknown. It’s the one thing we can be certain of and the one thing we’re certain we know very little about. No wonder we’ll never get our heads around it!

Nigel and I are passionate about informing and educating people about the funeral process. We want to give everyone the opportunity to make informed decisions from choosing the appropriate funeral director, through to putting to rest cremated remains and choosing a lasting memorial.

When dealing with the death of someone you dearly love, your usual life’s circumstances are tremendously magnified, and then on top of that, you have to do something you’ve never done before… Arrange a Funeral.  We pride ourselves on bringing a sense of clarity. We are open and approachable, and invite anyone to meet with us to advise you before the time of need.

Blessings

Claire