What happens at a funeral when someone is cremated?

Last Updated: 14th February 2022

There can be misconceptions about what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated but it is a personal choice as to what does happen.

There are many factors to consider, as there are when arranging a funeral that takes places in an alternative venue such as a church, however, what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated can follow whatever format the deceased or their next of kin or family choose.

It does not have to be different from a church funeral when considering what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated. 

What happens at a funeral when someone is cremated follows a funeral service as much as any other, and is as personal and unique as the family wish. 

If a funeral procession is to take place, the funeral director will bring the deceased to the bereaved family, usually the family home.  The bereaved family and loved ones will follow behind in either their own modes of transport of in limousines, driven by professionals of the funeral home that arrangements have been made through.

From there, the funeral procession will take place with a hearse transporting the deceased to the crematorium at which the funeral service is to take place. 

Upon arrival at the crematorium, there will be many people outside that are there to attend the funeral.  They will stand further back as the hearse draws up to the doors of the crematorium.  The family or loved ones of the deceased in the limousines will get out and it is not often that many words are spoken between them and the wider congregation. 

The next of kin is often approached by the funeral director or clergy, comforted if necessary and then directed as to what shall happen immediately.

It is a choice for the next of kin or family of the deceased to decide on whether or not the guests outside the crematorium should remain there or whether they should wait inside before the coffin with the deceased enters.

The coffin of the deceased will be carried or wheeled by pallbearers to the front of the venue and placed on a raised platform called a catafalque, whilst the family and loved ones of the deceased follow so that they can take their seats closest to the coffin at the front of the chapel of the crematorium.

A photo of the deceased person might have been placed at the front or on their coffin and their favourite music might be playing which the family or loved ones of the deceased might consider when they think about what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated.

The funeral service itself can take the form of any funeral ceremony: it might be traditional with hymns, prayers and bible readings or it could take a more contemporary or modern format with people singing, reading poems or playing instruments. 

A eulogy is likely to be read whether or not a traditional or more modern format of funeral service is adopted, which is often written by and delivered by a very close family friend who has known the person that has passed for a significant period of time.

In any event, what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated, up to this point can be very much the same in any type of funeral service.

It is what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated next that differentiates a burial with a cremation at funeral.

At the end of the service, which often lasts up to 45 minutes, what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated can differ. 

The curtain at the front of the crematorium is often closed at the end of the service.  Some people may choose to have this curtain closing to conceal the coffin behind it.  This is known as The Committal and acts as the final goodbye, the end and closure that the deceased’s next of kin and family may wish to happen.

Alternatively, it may be the choice of the deceased’s next of kin or family to leave this curtain open.  This allows people, as they leave the crematorium, to get closer the coffin, even touch it so they can say a more personal ‘goodbye’ that can be expressed by any of the attendees at the funeral service.

It is important to note that what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated is as personal as a family wishes it to be. 

After the funeral what happens at a funeral when someone is cremated the guests will leave the crematorium and gather in a different venue at a separate location so that a wake can be held.  This is arranged by the deceased’s next of kin and family so that guests at the funeral can come together in a more relaxed and informal setting to talk, remember the deceased and often raise a glass to toast them.

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