Being a celebrant usually means I am involved with happy events such as weddings. However, as part of my training to be a funeral celebrant (newly completed!), I went ‘behind the scenes’ at both a Funeral Directors’ and at a crematorium.
Of course, for workers at the crematorium, this was just another day at the ‘office’!
Milton Keynes Crematorium
What did I experience in this wonderful facility? (I’m sorry – I ought to have shown you the beautiful chapel, Japanese garden, water feature etc. Instead I’ve chosen more enlightening, but less pleasant, aspects!)
After the funeral service itself , the coffin is loaded into the cremator. The temperature is around 900 degrees, and the coffin remains in there for an hour or two (depending on the size of the body). Record-keeping is painstaking, to ensure nobody receives the wrong ashes at the end of proceedings!
There is a massive filtration process, used to dispose of contaminants (eg mercury from fillings) from the body.
The monitoring station is very modern and efficient.
Waste metal recovered from the ovens is sent for recycling and the proceeds go to charity.
Two cremators operate side by side (with two more sets of remains cooling below).
Finally, the ashes are carefully collected and put in urns for the family or Funeral Directors to collect.
The visit was fascinating (not at all macabre!) and also reassuring – as the whole thing is handled efficiently and respectfully.
For what it’s worth, I would be happy to be cremated (provided I’m dead first!). And, by the way, stringent measures are taken to ensure you are dead first!
I am very grateful for the opportunity to visit a crematorium – under these circumstances!
I am a celebrant based in London.