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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I visit the deceased whilst they are in your care?

Yes, of course. You are welcome to come and visit the Chapel of Rest at any time. All we ask is that you call us and advise us when you would like to visit so we can make sure a member of staff is on hand to help you.

Can my loved one be dressed in their own clothes?

Yes, please ask a member of staff for further advice.

Do I have to travel to the registration office in the district where the death occurred or can I register locally?

When someone dies in England or Wales the death needs to be registered within 5 days at the register office for the County in which the death occurred, unless the Coroner is involved. You can go to a different office if it is more convenient, but the process, known as registration by declaration, will take a day or two longer because the registrar will need to forward your information to the original district, where the registrar will issue and send out the death certificate and other paperwork. Doing things this way may mean a slight delay to the funeral, since it is not possible for a burial or cremation to take place until after the registrar has issued the necessary paperwork. If the person has died in the hospital we will usually need registrar’s paperwork to allow us to bring your loved one back into our care.

Do I have to have an officiant/celebrant/minister of religion to take the funeral service or can a member of my family do this?

You do not have to use any kind of officiant if you don’t want to. Families often ask if a member of their own family can officiate at the funeral (usually in the crematorium or at a graveside) to which we would say yes: however, it is a daunting task to be able to speak publicly, sometimes in front of a large amount of people and be able to keep a service flowing, include all the points needed, and often keeping to a timescale of around 20-25 minutes. We can recommend various celebrants from different organisations or, if appropriate, your local parish priest but if a family member or friend is confident they can officiate. We are more than happy to work with them.

Can we choose our own music at the church or crematorium?

Yes. If you have a special piece of music this can be played by the organist. Alternatively, most crematoriums have the facilities to play recorded music. Some of our local Churches will allow recorded music to be played, and we have a cd player that we are happy to take to the Church for you. However, we cannot take responsibility if recorded music does not play as planned.

Can we ask for donations instead of flowers?

Yes. If you would like us to handle the donations for you we will receipt each donor who supplies their address, and once the list has been closed (usually 3-4 weeks after the funeral) we will send a full list of those who contributed. We also send the donations to the charity and ask them to send a receipt directly to you.

Do we re-use coffins?

No. Once a deceased person has been place in their coffin there is usually no need to remove them from it. There are very strict guidelines in place from the Home Office. No crematorium will allow a coffin to be opened and there is no facility and no requirement to do this at a crematorium or indeed a cemetery or churchyard.

Do we remove the handles from a coffin?

No. This comes under the strict guidelines mentioned above. Coffin handles on a coffin that will be cremated are made of either plastic or some other combustible material, eg wood, so it is not necessary to remove them. For burial, handles can be made from plastic, wood or metal and again it is not necessary to remove handles as they actually aid the burial process.

Is it really my loved one’s cremated remains that are returned to me?

A cremator can physically accept only one coffin at a time and all remains are removed before the unit can be used again. An identity card accompanies the coffin and cremated remains throughout the process until final disposal. The code of ethics and practical necessity are complementary and combine to ensure that the separation of cremated remains is achieved.

At Susan Whymark Funeral Service we are assured by the crematoriums we use that the cremated remains returned to us are those of your loved one.  This process is witnessed by our staff on a regular basis.  The process of cremation is thorough and meticulous in its administration and subsequent cremation. All documents and coffins are cross-referenced before cremation. No crematorium will accept a coffin where the nameplate does not match the name on their records.

Can jewellery be cremated?

Yes. However, it is preferably kept to a simple band with no stones at most. Most metals have a comparatively low melting point with that of the temperature of the cremator and what is retrieved afterwards would not necessarily be recognisable as metallic. Jewellery cannot be retrieved following a cremation.

Do I have to see the coffin disappear behind the curtains at the crematorium?

No. Most crematoria have curtains that close in front of the catafalque (the platform the coffin stands on in the service) during the committal at the end of the service. However, the option to close the curtains or not is entirely up to those making the arrangements and if this something you particularly find distressing we will inform the crematorium that the curtains are to remain open and the coffin left in place. The coffin will not be moved from the catafalque until the service is over and the Chapel is empty regardless of whether the curtains are open or closed.

How soon can I have the cremated remains back?

We can usually collect ashes the following day but if you require the ashes very soon after the cremation it is best to let us know in advance and we will find out exactly how soon they will be available.

Where can I scatter ashes?

Most crematoria have a vast array of options for the scattering and interring of ashes and the crematorium will usually write to you following the cremation with their options. Otherwise we have brochures with examples from each crematorium.

Ashes can be scattered in certain areas of cemeteries and churchyards but permission must always be sought from the burial authority before this can be completed. Not all cemeteries and churchyards allow scattering, preferring to inter them instead.

Ashes can be interred in a family grave where a full burial has taken place in the past. It is usual for cemeteries and churchyards to have an area specifically for burials of ashes where you can place a small cremation sized memorial.

Wherever you are planning to scatter or inter ashes, if the ground does not belong to you it is imperative that you ask permission from the owner of the land.

Can I place the cremated remains of another person in the coffin to be buried?

This is a question that will have to be asked of the individual burial authority at the time of making the arrangements, as this differs from place to place.

Do I have to use the funeral director appointed by the Coroner?

No, you don’t.  If it was yours or the deceased person’s wish to use a specific funeral director and unfortunately their death has been sudden and unexpected and they had to be taken to a hospital for a post mortem by the coroner, you do not have to use the services of this funeral director for the funeral arrangements. The funeral director who took care of your loved one via the Police or Coroner is appointed by the Coroner for this role only. Appointment of a funeral director to carry out your wishes is the sole responsibility of the person taking responsibility for the arrangements.

Can I or a member of my family be buried at home?

Yes. However, there are strict guidelines for this and we recommend a great deal of thought should be given before this is completed. The environment agency have to be informed of an impending home burial and the site of the burial spot will have to be marked upon the deeds of the property. The land must be owned by the person taking responsibility for the funeral arrangements. It must be taken into consideration that the grave may devalue the property considerably in the future and it must be considered whether or not the home will be kept by your family or beneficiary in the future.

We can give all the information needed if this something you are considering.

Does environmentally friendly really mean environmentally friendly?

Yes. Where the environment is concerned our industry is striving to be compliant and take considerations into account at all levels. Obviously cremation is as environmentally friendly as it can be but burial is the most environmentally friendly form of disposal.

We can provide coffins that carry the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark. FSC is a certification system that provides internationally recognised standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organisations, and communities interested in responsible forestry.

The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value.

Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide.

To earn FSC certification and the right to use the FSC label, an organisation must first adapt its management and operations to conform to all applicable FSC requirements. What the FSC rules prescribe are being globally applied. This is how FSC makes a positive and permanent impact.

We can also provide coffins made from alternative materials such as wicker and cardboard, which have been produced in the UK and therefore have less impact on the environment. Incidentally, all the products sourced by Susan Whymark Funeral Service, where possible, are purchased from businesses in the UK as close to home as possible.

Inner coffin linings can be made from cotton, and rope handles can be fitted to wooden and cardboard coffins. The closer to home you are buried ensures less travelling by car and, if close enough, family members are welcome to carry the coffin themselves if no motor vehicles are wanted.

Again if you have questions on this subject we are happy to talk it through with you and discuss personal requirements.