Frequently Asked Questions about Cremation

What circumstances would prevent a cremation taking place?
The only exception would be if it was the expressed wish of the deceased not to be cremated.

Is cremation more expensive than burial?
No. The funeral director’s charges are much the same for both services, but remember with a burial there are additional costs for headstones and grave care. The only additional charge for cremation is when the death has not been referred to the Coroner, when fees to two doctors have to be paid for the necessary certificates.

How do I arrange a crematorium?
The responsibility for arranging a crematorium usually rests with the nearest surviving relative or the Executor. As soon as possible after the death has occurred, a funeral director should be contacted and asked to arrange the cremation at a mutually agreeable date and time. From that point, the funeral director will do all that is necessary to satisfy the needs of the family and the legal regulations that govern cremations. The funeral director can also provide advice on how and where to register the death.

Can we bring our pet dog to a service or when we visit the Gardens of Remembrance?
Regrettably NO animals (except for registered assistance dogs) are permitted into any of the Crematorium buildings or grounds.

Do I have to use a funeral director?
No. You may choose to organise and conduct a cremation without the assistance of a funeral director. We can advise you on how to do this.

What religious ceremonies are available?
Your funeral director will contact the parish priest or minister, unless an alternative is required, and the minister normally then contacts the family to discuss and agree the ‘Order of service’. The service is normally held in either of the crematorium’s Chapel’s, however, the service may take place in your own church or chapel followed by a short committal service at the crematorium.

Can I choose my own organist or musician?
Yes. The service can be made as personal as you wish.

Must there be a religious service with a cremation?
No. A civil ceremony can be conducted, or there can be no ceremony at all. A memorial service may be conducted separately from the cremation ceremony.

What if I want a non-religious ceremony?
Your funeral director can normally provide advice and contact details of alternative officiators.

How can I make my contribution to the environment?
Coffins and their fittings and furnishings tend be made from materials suitable for the cremation process. However, there are alternative coffins available which create even less impact on the environment. Please discuss your requirements with your funeral director, or the staff at the crematorium, particularly if the cremation is being conducted without a funeral director. Crematoriums can use a lot of gas and electricity, and if all cremations are completed on the same day as the funeral service excessive energy is used. The crematorium abides by the ‘Guiding Principles for Cremation’ issued by The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. This means all cremations will be carried out within 72 hours of the funeral service. A copy of the guiding principles for Cremation is available on request. This results in a contribution to reducing the impact to our environment by better use of energy, which in turn minimises the emission of greenhouse gases. All metals remaining following cremation will be disposed of in the most suitable manner to reduce the impact on the environment. This will include the sensitive recycling of metals to avoid the use of non-renewable resources and comply with existing legislation.

Please note that soft metals, such as gold and silver, will melt into tiny globules and combine with the cremated remains. They cannot be returned separately. We recommend that precious metals in the form of jewellery are not cremated with the deceased.

Is there a choice of music at the service?
Yes. If a particular piece of music is required, arrangements should be made with your funeral director or the crematorium. The crematorium is pleased to offer a service which has does not require the need for tapes or CDs to be provided. We operate a digital music system which has a very comprehensive library. The library may be viewed online at Wesley Music. Simply click on: 'Music Library', then 'Client General Libraries' (or directly via this link).  Next select 'West Herts Crematorium, Watford' from the Venue dropdown list, and 'Search' or 'View All'.

Should you not see your requests in our library, we will try to obtain them directly from Wesley Music. We must receive your requests no later than 48 hours in advance of the funeral service. Providing your requests are ‘commercially’ available, we should be able to obtain them for you. A resident organist is available to operate the music system, as well as play the organ for any popular / classical music together with hymns. Please note that only two hymns may be sung in the allocated service time unless an additional time has been pre-booked.

What happens at the crematorium on the day of the funeral?
The mourners will normally gather close to the Chapel entrance a few minutes before the appointed time of the funeral service. The service normally lasts 25-30 minutes, unless extra time has been booked in advance. When the principal mourners are ready to proceed, the coffin is usually brought into the Chapel by bearers from the funeral director or the family. While the coffin is being placed on the catafalque, the mourners take their seats and the service proceeds. The North Chapel has 126 seats with extra areas for standing. The South Chapel has 50 seats with limited space for standing.
At the moment when the committal of the body takes place, the coffin will be obscured from view by curtains although there is an option for it to be partially obscured by voile drapes in the North Chapel. The coffin is then lowered into the committal room.

The crematorium offers the following choices at the time of committal:
- Curtains to close and coffin to remain in situ
- Curtains to close and coffin to lower
- Voile drapes only and coffin to remain in situ
- No curtains, no voile, no coffin to lower - coffin to remain on view when exiting the chapel
Please indicate your requests with your funeral arranger.
The mourners then proceed to the terrace to view the floral tributes before leaving the Crematorium. Floral tributes will remain on view for the day of the funeral and the following day.
For environmental reasons it is not possible to release balloons on the Flower Terrace following a service.

Floral tributes for funerals on: Removed and disposed of by us on:
Monday Wednesday at 8am
Tuesday Thursday at 8am
Wednesday Friday at 8am
Thursday Next Monday at 8am
Friday Next Monday at 8am
Saturday/Sunday Next Tuesday at 8am

What happens to the coffin after the committal?
A crematorium technician carefully checks the name plate on the coffin before cremation takes place. The coffin is securely retained for a period no longer than 72 hours, in accordance with the Principle Guidelines issued to us by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. It is then placed into the cremator in exactly the same condition as it was received. The body and the coffin are then cremated.
Any metals used in the construction of the coffin or medical implants are extracted from the cremated remains and sensitively recycled to reduce the impact on the environment. A copy of the crematorium’s ‘Recycling of Metals Policy’ may be obtained on request.

Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?
Yes, by arrangement with the Crematorium Manager. It is preferable to advise the funeral director of this requirement as early as possible when making the funeral arrangements.

How do I know I will get the right cremated remains?
Our crematorium technician identifies each coffin with a card when it arrives. This card is then placed on the outside of the cremator as soon as the coffin is placed into it. The card stays there until the cremated remains are removed and transferred to a cooling tray. The remains and the card are then moved to a preparation room where the remains are reduced to a fine consistency suitable for storage and eventual disposal. The card is then placed in the container containing the prepared cremated remains.

Also, as each cremator only holds one coffin and the cremated remains must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all cremated remains are kept separate throughout the process. The only exceptions permitted to this rule are in the case of a mother and baby or twin children, when the next of kin requests that the two be cremated together.

When do I have to decide what to do with the cremated remains?
We will ask you to confirm what is to be done with the cremated remains. THis responsibility lies with the person who signs for the cremation to take place. To give families plenty of time, we will hold the remains for up to one month at no charge. If no instructions are received within this time, we will write to you requesting instructions by a given date. If no instructions are received, we will write a second time enquiring if a decision has been reached. Should we not hear from you within a specified date the cremated remains will then be dispersed of within the grounds of the crematorium.
However, please do not feel you have to rush into a decision. We understand that families and friends need time to consider and, if you require longer, we can look after the remains for a further period of three months for a nominal fee.

What other choices do I have?
You may wish to take the remains from the crematorium for disposal elsewhere. If so, the crematorium will prepare and transfer the cremated remains into a suitable container for transportation purposes. This may be by burial in a family grave, burial in a purchased cremated remains grave at a cemetery or churchyard, or by strewing the cremated remains at another crematorium. Please note that any respective authorities must be informed of your wishes as a record must be kept regarding the final resting place of the deceased. Cremated remains may also be strewn in some favourite spot subject to any local rules or regulations being observed. Should you decide to leave them at rest in the crematorium, they may be strewn early in the morning exactly two weeks after the funeral service has taken place within the:
- Woodland Section on unmarked grass within the Gardens of Remembrance,
- Gardens of Remembrance at the same location as a previous deceased, or
- Gardens of Remembrance on unmarked grass as near as possible to a dedicated memorial.
You may also instruct us, in writing, to strew the cremated remains on your behalf or you may wish to be present at the strewing by contacting us to make an appointment.
Please note that we are unable to inter cremated remains? within the Gardens of Remembrance and commemorative plaques are not sited at specific strewing locations.
Any of the above decisions may be complemented by an inscription in the Book of Remembrance or a dedicated memorial.

What happens to cremated remains that are strewn on the ground?
They are normally distributed over a wide area of ground. The weather and biochemical reaction quickly break down the cremated remains to form part of the earth. Within a short time there is little trace of them.

What are the Gardens of Remembrance at the West Herts Crematorium?
The Gardens of Remembrance contain areas within our grounds set aside for the disposal of cremated remains. These areas have been dedicated for this purpose by representatives of the Christian churches. It is not possible to dedicate specific areas, and individual memorials cannot be placed at the site of the strewing.

What memorials are available at West Herts Crematorium?
There are a number of ways in which loved ones can be remembered at our crematorium:
An everlasting entry in the Book of Remembrance that is displayed in the dedicated chapel - entries made in the book may be viewed one year after application, see: Application for an everlasting entry in the Book of Remembrance (PDF, 464K). Other forms of commemoration dedicated for a period of time such as memorial rose bushes, cloister-wall plaques, leather memorial panels, ornamental shrubs and trees, garden benches and trees, One-off dedications such as donations to the garden memorial and bulb scheme, and hymn books. Further information can be obtained from our staff at any time.

If I want to find out more, and perhaps view the crematorium, what should I do?
You can arrange to see the Manager at the crematorium office by appointment, and staff are available during office hours to assist you with any advice or information on any matter relating to cremation. It is also possible to arrange a conducted tour of the chapels and grounds.