How to choose a crematorium

Crematorium at City of London Cemetery

Did you know that you’re completely free to choose whichever crematorium you like? While some people believe that you need to use your local crematorium, the choice is really up to you. Here’s our guide on what to consider and some tips on how to begin your search.

A crematorium doesn’t have to be local

While a local crematorium can absolutely be a good choice for some people, it doesn’t have to be the default option. You can choose whichever crematorium will best suit your needs. Some funeral directors prefer to work with their local crematorium and may suggest it — but this doesn’t mean you have to agree. Funeral directors are free to work with any crematorium that you choose without restrictions.

Sometimes people also believe that choosing a crematorium that’s farther away will be more expensive. While rates do vary from one crematorium to another, the fee has nothing to do with your postcode. This is different from burials, where a cemetery's fees will often change depending on whether or not you’re a local resident.

What to keep in mind when choosing a crematorium

There are some practical questions you may want to keep in mind when choosing a crematorium. One of the main reasons people often prefer somewhere local is that it’s easiest for family and friends to get to. But that isn’t always true or may not be your top priority. What you’d like to do afterwards can also play a role, like walking by a river or visiting a park.

Some other considerations might be:

  • A crematorium's size. Some crematoria will be better set up for large or small services.
  • Length of time for the service. It’s common for the service to last 30 minutes, but some crematoria will offer 45 - 50 minutes.
  • Committal options. A committal is what happens to the coffin at the end of a service. Depending on the crematorium, this might include options like the coffin being surrounded by curtains, rolling away or descending through the floor.
  • Whether or not the crematorium will allow you to witness the actual cremation.
  • The availability of webcasting facilities.

You may also want to think about what kind of atmosphere you’re hoping for: is it somewhere older or more modern, a room that’s light and airy or maybe more intimate? In the end, it really comes down to personal choice and what appeals to you the most.

Do you want it to feel like a Christian chapel?

In the past, crematoria used to be connected to the Church of England. Although that’s not the case any longer, some crematoria can still feel a lot like churches. Older buildings are especially likely to have Christian symbols like crucifixes on display.

For some people, it’s important that the crematorium doesn’t feel like a Christian church. If that’s true for you, newer buildings are more likely to have a secular atmosphere although certain older crematoria can be a good choice too. Some crematoria are also happy to remove any religious symbols during the service if you ask.

Whether or not you’re hoping for a church-like atmosphere, it’s always worth checking before the actual funeral to make sure that you’re comfortable.

How Covid-19 can affect your options

Crematoria have different rules about how many people can attend a service during Covid-19. These numbers can vary quite a lot and may depend on the crematorium’s individual set-up. This can impact important choices like having an open coffin and whether family and friends can act as bearers.

Crematoria’s rules during lockdown do change, especially when the government issues new guidance. It can feel very challenging when Covid-19 affects your funeral plans, so ask your funeral director what a crematorium’s policies are. You can also call the crematorium directly if you’re planning the funeral yourself.

Where do you begin looking?

The internet is the first place many of us turn to for help but the results can be mixed for crematoria. Some crematoria have high quality images online but unfortunately a lot of them still don’t. Your funeral director can be an excellent resource when it comes to finding the right crematorium. At Poppy’s, we’ll ask questions about what you’re hoping for and offer recommendations.

If you’re not working with a funeral director, a good place to start can be location. From there, you can narrow down the list depending on your preferences and priorities. Don’t be afraid to call and ask questions or arrange a visit. If you’re struggling to find the time or mental energy, this can be a great place for a friend to step in and lend a hand.

You should always feel free to choose the crematorium that works best for the funeral you’re planning. It may be that the atmosphere is more important than location or the other way around. There’s really no right or wrong answer, it’s just a question of what’s most important for you.

Image of the new crematorium at the City of London Cemetery by Acabashi.

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