Where to hold the service
A funeral service can be held almost anywhere. The most common venues are either a Crematorium, a Church or other religious building, at a Cemetery either in a building or at the grave side or at a natural burial ground. But funeral services can also be held in other locations. I have conducted services in private gardens, Sizewell Sports and Social Club, The Riverside Centre in Farnham and various village halls around the area.
A typical cremation ceremony will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes at Seven Hills Crematorium or 40 minutes at Waveney Memorial Park and Crematorium. Extended ceremony times can be booked if you think a longer time is needed.
The ceremony may incorporate music, readings and tributes from family and friends, should they wish to contribute. Ceremonies conducted by Celebrants in crematoriums are often much more focused on celebrating the life that has been lead and honouring the achievements of the deceased.
The use of music within a funeral ceremony is very common. Both Seven Hills and Waveney Memorial Park have an integrated music system that will be able to provide practically any piece of music that is commercially available.
More personal music or spoken audio tributes can also be accommodated provided they can be supplied in the correct format within reasonable time. The crematoria also have the facility to webcast the service via the internet if there are those who are unable to attend in person.
Most crematoriums would be happy to show you around the public parts of the building to help alay any fears you may have about attending a ceremony.
Direct Cremation Ceremonies
A Direct Cremation is the name given to the process of using the facilities of a crematorium without any form of ceremony. You may think it a little strange that someone who specalises in funeral ceremonies would be providing you with this information. But there are a number of circumstances when this may be the most appropriate course of action. If the wishes of the deceased were that there was to be no sort of ceremony at all, this would be an option to consider.
I would, however, suggest to anyone considering this as an option to think very carefully. A funeral ceremony is, to a large part, for the living. An opportunity to say goodbye in a fitting and respectful manner. You will not have the opportunity to re-do the ceremony later if you change your mind.
The two most common traditional burial ceremony formats undertaken by celebrants are, firstly, a ceremony held in a cemetery chapel followed by a burial committal or a ceremony held at the graveside incorporating the burial committal. It is also entirely possible to hold a funeral ceremony at another location. I have conducted funeral ceremonies at The Riverside Centre in Farnham, Sizewell Sports and Social Club in Leiston and several village halls.
The ceremony could incorporate music, readings and tributes from family and friends, should they wish to contribute. Ceremonies conducted by Celebrants in municipal cemeteries are often much more focused on celebrating the life that has been lead and honouring the achievements of the deceased.
One of the factors to consider is the great British weather. The burial committal is outside and will go ahead whatever the weather. The only time a ceremony and burial committal may be postponed would be when it would be unsafe or impossible to continue due to deep snow.
I should point out that part of the ceremony will involve lowering the coffin into the grave. This can be a surprising and distressing experience if people are unaware that this will happen.
A Natural or Environmentally Friendly Burial
Society’s growing awareness of and concern for, the environmental impact of mankind’s activities has led to a surge in the interest of Celebrant led, low environmental impact funerals. There are now approximately 300 Natural Burial sites in the UK. The long term aim for a majority of these sites is that they will be returned to nature; often woodland.
To minimise the environmental impact the coffin required at most sites will need to be traditional plain wooden coffin but hand woven wicker or cardboard coffins are now also available. Traditional headstones are not permitted and any items that are not fully biodegradable are not permitted on graves.
Most natural burial sites have no form of buildings or structures and, therefore, everything is conducted outside. As with municipal cemeteries, natural burial sites are non-religious. There can be much greater flexibility regarding the content of the service and often the time constraints of a ceremony held in a crematorium will not apply. It is advisable, however, to this check with your Funeral Director.
It is possible to create a respectful and meaningful ‘person-centred’ ceremony based entirely on the values, wishes and beliefs of the deceased and their family. The ceremony could incorporate music, readings and tributes from family and friends; should they wish to contribute.
Ceremonies conducted by Celebrants in natural burial grounds are often much more peaceful and person focused than ceremonies held in a crematorium, due to the intimacy of the setting and the tranquility of the natural environment.
Other Types of Burial
Home Burial Ceremonies
Many people are surprised to learn that a celebrant led Home Burial is possible, and if has been my privilege to have conducted such a ceremony. It is certainly not a common practice but is entirely possible providing the environmental and legal considerations are met. Some people love where they live so much that their final wish is to remain there after their death. A Home Burial may be just the answer. There are, however, both environmental and legal considerations as well as considerations for the future of the property.
The environmental considerations are mainly focused on water courses and ground water levels. The main considerations are:
- The burial site needs to be at least 30 meters away from any spring or running or standing water.
- The burial site needs to be at least 50 meters away from any well or bore hole.
- The is no standing water in the grave when it is first dug and it is not in very sandy soil.
- There needs to be at least one meter of soil both above and below the body after burial.
- The legal considerations include:
- Explicit written consent for the burial from the Landowner.
- Any more than two burials could constitute a private cemetery for which authority would need to be sought.
- Any burial would need to be listed with the Deeds of the property.
- Concerns regarding the future of the property will include potential resale. A prospective purchaser may be put off buying the property if there is a grave on site. The future use of the property will need to consider the grave site. Once the committal has taken place, an Order from the Secretary of State would be required to move the remains.
If you are considering a Home Burial, I would recommend that you speak to your local Environmental Health Department and a local Solicitor.
Burial at Sea
Being a coastal community, a Burial at Sea may be something that is being considered. There are, however, many restrictions on this practice and there are no areas on the Suffolk or Norfolk coastline where a committal at sea site has been approved.
Currently the only parts of the UK coastline where you can apply for a license to perform a committal at sea are:
- Off The Needles, Isle of Wight.
- Between Hastings and Newhaven.
- Off Tynemouth, North Tyneside.
It is possible to propose a new site when making an application. You will need to provide the exact coordinates and evidence to demonstrate the site is suitable for burial at sea.
For more information I suggest you visit gov.uk/burial-at-sea.