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Crematorium Technician here

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 13:11:53

I see lots of threads about cremations and Crematoria. I'm currently a crem tech so please ask me questions and I will endeavor to answer them.

milliememum Thu 31-May-18 19:19:11

Thankyou so much for this thread, my man was cremated 4 weeks ago and I now have some understanding of the process and gives me comfort that she was looked afterthanks

catburgers Thu 31-May-18 19:19:49

Please don't think this is too morbid...

But do you ever get coffins that well.....don't look like a traditionally shaped coffin.

I've always said to my family that they should pack me into the biggest cardboard box they can find. There is just something about a wooden coffin that makes me feel uneasy.

BeachyUmbrella Thu 31-May-18 19:21:45

If you delivered your own loved one to a crematorium, I presume you'd need some sort of 'licence' to carry a corpse? I know when a friend died, his body was taken from London to Lancashire and I seem to remember they had to get permission from each county he travelled through. I may be remembering this completely wrong though.

TwitterQueen1 Thu 31-May-18 19:31:59

One of my closest friends is a British born Indian. Her mother (Indian born & 90+) recently died and friend was not familiar with the burial rituals. She got huge comfort from all the different rituals - a photo in the home with a candle and flowers, people pinning things to the exterior of the coffin, everyone talking about everything, the whole extended family mourning in India with a communal commemoration...

We don't do death (or old age) at all well in the UK. And here's another vote @MNHQ for classics please! We're all so scared of and ignorant about death and I believe it would be so much less stressful for all concerned if we could talk about it more.

AndIWouldWalk500Yards Thu 31-May-18 19:38:37

I've been talking to a friend about this thread who isn't on here. She has an older relative who is seriously obese - between 30 and 40 stones in weight. What is the maximum sized person that can fit in a cremator? At what size would a crematorium say that they cannot carry out a cremation because the deceased and coffin is too large?

Would that ever happen?

Yoksha Thu 31-May-18 19:45:28

I agree Twitterqueen. I felt very uncomfortable at the start of the thread. But as I read on, I saw my fears verbalised by others and I began to feel in a much better place.

Thank you OP. star

Pickleshickles Thu 31-May-18 19:58:02

Thank you for this Kermit.

Pfftlife Thu 31-May-18 20:16:45

I've spent the day reading this thread when I had a minute. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer everyone's questions and put so many people a mind's at ease, all my questions have been asked and answered already.
The fact that you say goodbye and wish everyone well really touched me, thank you again.

I think this thread should be in classics, it would help a lot of people over the years

MrsBatkins Thu 31-May-18 20:21:55

Thank you @ILoveKermit for this enlightening discussion.

I've hated crematoriums since I was a young girl after attending my grandmothers' cremation. I don't know if this is just me remembering something wrong but all I can think about is that when the curtains went round the coffin, you could hear the whir of tracks taking it back. (This would have been in the 80s).

To hear you speak of the deceased with so much respect is truly comforting.

Westfacing Thu 31-May-18 20:25:51

A fascinating thread - thank you Kermit for the job that you do.

She had a terminal illness and wanted to see what would happen to her. I showed her round then cremated her about 2 months later...I felt a special bond with her


Irksomeness Thu 31-May-18 20:34:57

Twitterqueen. It’s interesting how different cultures deal with death. Personally I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with very simple funerals with no rituals or tradition. I wouldn’t like a funeral with lots of traditions.

It’s good to learn that cremations can be tailored to suit a wide variety of needs.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 20:37:19

@DamsonGin to be honest paint/varnish only lasts a second or before it's stripped off by the flames.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 20:38:39

@CookPassBabtridge very thin people don't have a lot of fuel (fat) so can take a longer

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 20:41:08

@BeachyUmbrella I'm not sure you do. That's one for a funeral director

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 20:44:01

@AndIWouldWalk500Yards we have a large cremator and would go by the size of coffin not necessarily the weight. Especially the width and length. If her coffin was too big then she would have to be buried.

BrigitsBigKnickers Thu 31-May-18 20:46:37

What a fascinating thread.

I lost my mum 5 years ago and I researched cremation before the funeral and it gave me some sort of strange comfort so I can see why this thread has created such interest.

Please ask for it to go into classics as it will be lost if it remains in chat.

The funeral director we used was just lovely. I remember her telling me she tucked my mum up each night and said goodnight in the days between her arriving there and the funeral.

I love the fact you say cheerio before cremating the deceased- it gives me great comfort to know someone like you is there with our loved ones on their final journey.

lastnightidreamtofpotatoes Thu 31-May-18 20:49:14

AFAIK you don't have to have any sort of license to carry a corpse yourself, it doesn't even have to be in a coffin in public, but it is an offence to expose it in a public place (it can be shrouded/wrapped up)

An acquaintance's wife had a stillborn baby and they wanted to bury her in Ireland. They took her (in a coffin) and drove all the way themselves.

AndIWouldWalk500Yards Thu 31-May-18 20:49:30

Thank you Kermit. I will pass that information on.

PandaPieForTea Thu 31-May-18 20:51:04

Would it be possible to have the bones/bone fragments returned instead of having them ground up and returned?

LoveProsecco Thu 31-May-18 20:54:13

This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 20:56:36

@PandaPieForTea I wouldn't have thought so. I've never been asked that question before though. Why wouldn't you want them ground into ashes? Where would you put them?

Akire Thu 31-May-18 20:57:20

Fantastic and educational thread OP.
IS there a size where you are to
Big/fat to be cremated? Is there a cut off point? Or was it built to cover every possible situation?

AndIWouldWalk500Yards Thu 31-May-18 20:59:10

Sorry more questions re larger deceased people. Do funeral directors have the measurements for people who can be cremated so families understand what is possible or not from the outset? Clearly it isn't just obese people, it might be very tall people.

tass1960 Thu 31-May-18 21:00:00

Fascinating - I have always been adamant that I don't want to be cremated but more recently I have been thinking that I don't want my kids to feel obliged to visit a grave either (I feel horrible guilt when I don't get to my mum's/sister's graves often enough). I feel very reassured now and may have to change the funeral instructions in my Will -!thank you so much for this X

BeachyUmbrella Thu 31-May-18 21:00:39

Have you ever been out of power or run out of fuel? Particularly half way through, I suppose.

DiabolicalMess Thu 31-May-18 21:00:54

Thank you Kermit for a very touching, insightful and reassuring thread.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:01:14

@Akire yes absolutely. The cremator is quite wide but there is a limit. Also trolleys have a weight limit they can safely handle as they're all hydraulic.

I've seen people who are extremely big get lowered into a burial plot with a crane as their coffins were too heavy to be lowered by bearers.

PandaPieForTea Thu 31-May-18 21:01:56

I just think they’d be more interesting to keep than ground up ashes. I guess I’d keep them in a box somewhere - a bit like keeping an urn of ground up ashes. I suppose the converse question is ‘why would you want them to be ground up?’ It’s just a social convention. Obviously you couldn’t really scatter them if they were still bones/big bits as it would be disconcerting if they were found.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:02:58

@AndIWouldWalk500Yards yes funeral directors are aware and they have this discussion with families. We can fit someone who is 8 feet tall in our cremator so height isn't the's the width.

Parkrunner25 Thu 31-May-18 21:03:56

"I've had a good sob to my colleague before when I've charged a 4 year olds coffin"

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for caring so much. Xx.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:04:33

@BeachyUmbrella yes we've had a power cut half way through...the back up generator fired up but we had to reset the cremator after the one in was finished. Was a pain all round but the cremation was still done correctly and within the law.

FiestaThenSiesta Thu 31-May-18 21:04:54

Are you allowed to bury cremated bones? So you could bury your loved one in say your backyard (and take them with you if you move?)

Angelil Thu 31-May-18 21:08:59

Thank you OP for the care you clearly put into your job. If only more people were like you.

TwitterQueen1 Thu 31-May-18 21:09:29

irksome I agree. Reading about the funeral pyre on top of a mountain in Colorado would actually be my preferred way now I think. I wouldn't mind being mingled with other people's remains and left on a mountain top (especially in the most amazing state in the US). But I'm not sure my DCs would agree and I tend to think that whatever will help them most is what they should do with my remains.

Akire Thu 31-May-18 21:11:48

You said metal Handels have to come off but most would be just plastic look alike ones? A quick google shows most as solid metal. Are families told at purchase that these will be given back to funeral home? Who takes them Off after funeral But before they go in?

readyforapummelling Thu 31-May-18 21:12:07

@olderthanyouthink thank you! Got it.

HildaZelda Thu 31-May-18 21:29:05

Thank you so much for this thread OP.

MizCracker Thu 31-May-18 21:31:37

What a great thread.

I'm lucky to have only been to two grandparent's funerals in my adult life, and both times I was so touched by the funeral home staff who drove the hearse and bowed to the coffin as it sat at the front of the room. It was so respectful. Now I know that respect and professionalism carries on once the funeral service is over too.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:40:07

@Akire burial coffins are solid metal but cremation ones are plastic look a likes but if say we got a burial coffin the yes the funeral director would have to remove them before we could cremate it

RaininSummer Thu 31-May-18 21:40:33

Excellent thread. Always found this rather interesting. Didnt know that wicker and cardboard arent ideal so will now change instructions to cheap wood. I want a direct cremation if my family can handle it. I may buy a coffin and decorate it. I could store wool in it while I wait.
As others have said, your respect for the dead shines through. Thank you for that.

Ilikesweetpeas Thu 31-May-18 21:43:23

Fascinating thread, thank you for explaining so much

NotAnotherNoughtiesTune Thu 31-May-18 21:45:36

Excellent threD @ILoveKermit you've been great answering questions.

Have you ever had a family member ask for a certain body part to not go through the cremator (this may be more the funereal directors job but unsure if you've heard of it?)

Would someone tall (say 6'4') be heavier Ash wise than a short person (5ft).
Also would someone being muscular make their burning easier s not just lots of bone and skin or harder as fat would be limited?

Sorry if they are very morbid.

I definitely agree death shouldn't be such a big taboo. It's perfectly natural (though obviously not desired) aand everyone will die one day, so to understand the process as well as the ins and outs can make it. Lot was frightening for those who fear how their body will be treated.

Thank you s much for having empathy even once the person has died - it shows you're truly a kind person. 💐

Buxbaum Thu 31-May-18 21:48:40

God bless you, @ILoveKermit, for the work that you do and for the comfort that this thread has brought so many people flowers

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:48:50

@NotAnotherNoughtiesTune I've not ever come across the family wanting to keep a body part and as far as I know a person has to be kept whole but yes that's one for a funeral director.

With the amount of ashes you get you can never tell how much you're going to get whether that person be very tall or very short. Flesh/muscle/organs all burn away to nothing so it is just bones and a bit of coffin in the ashes.

BibiBlocksberg Thu 31-May-18 21:50:15

Thank you for this thread OP & the reminder that through facing Death we also connect to life as one cannot exist without the other.

Well, in my case anyway.

Feels like such a taboo subject in everyday society, really great to see an open discussion on it.

NotAnotherNoughtiesTune Thu 31-May-18 21:51:45

@ILoveKermit Sorry I meant with the muscle question would the .muscle act similar to fuel like fat or wouldn't it make much difference.

It's a fascinating subject.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 21:53:32

@NotAnotherNoughtiesTune yes they would act as fuel but fat really fuels the fire

Accountant222 Thu 31-May-18 21:53:53

Thanks for sharing I've really enjoyed reading this thread.

When my Dad died 28 years ago, I was a bit overwhelmed by the kindness and respect the people we had to deal with showed us.

My Grandad died when I was 14, he was quite well known locally, he had a business and employed quite a few people, when we went from the church to the cemetery in the cars, people lined the streets and took off their caps and bowed their heads, this was 1970, it broke my heart.

Perpetualstateofchaos Thu 31-May-18 21:59:46

My mum has expressed her wish of having a small amount of my brother's ashes in her coffin with her. Would we be allowed to do this. I know you have answered for pets ashes but not sure if the same answer applies.

WitchDancer Thu 31-May-18 22:01:18

How does your process differ from the video?

Thank you for the insight

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 22:01:49

@Perpetualstateofchaos probably not but his ashes could be mixed with hers when they are scattered or buried whichever you're having.

thelmalouisewaitforme Thu 31-May-18 22:03:48

@ILoveKermit Thank you for starting this thread and taking the time to answer everyone's questions. I have always been absolutely terrified of crematoriums but you have helped to ease this for me, so that I can try to look at them in a new light.

Thank you also for the caring way you go about your job and your respect for people right until the end of their journey.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 22:05:51

@WitchDancer for one our crematory is not dark and dingy like that one and also we receive coffins in whole.

The coffin is lined up and the machine is started (this switches any burners off) the door opens and you push the coffin in and close the door.

The door is not opened again until the last flicker of flame has extinguished. They on the video seem to be bashing the remains down whilst a burner is going?

The remains are then raked into a sump and the door closed then the process starts again.

Weaverspin Thu 31-May-18 22:09:46

This is a link to a good 'behind the scenes' tour of a British crematorium which someone mentioned up-thread. It puts to rest some myths and worries - Do I get the right ashes . (It has a warning on it, but it's not graphic - it shows a coffin being 'charged' into a cremator, and a short shot through the cremator spyhole, but nothing detailed).

EatRepeatEatRepeat Thu 31-May-18 22:16:37

Helpful thread. As a vicar I’ve met so many families who are worried about the practicalities of the crematorium and are often afraid to ask these questions. I get on really well with our local crem staff and have had a full tour to enable me to offer reassurance and answers to families if required.

Perpetualstateofchaos Thu 31-May-18 22:18:33

@kermit thank you for answering I just thought I'd ask as mum randomly mentions thibgs she would like me to do for it when the time comes.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 22:19:25

@Weaverspin can you see how different a british Crematorium is to the American one upthread.

waterlego6064 Thu 31-May-18 22:32:08

I’m really interested in this idea of families taking their own loved ones to the crematorium; I had no idea one was ‘allowed’ to do that. Sorry to ask a crass question, but how soon would a body need to be moved out of the home and off to the crem, before it started to..degrade?

FoxtrotSkarloey Thu 31-May-18 22:32:23

@ILoveKermit Another poster saying thank you for this insightful thread, and the care and compassion you give to your job.

WitchDancer Thu 31-May-18 22:32:45

I much prefer our way of doing things! Thank you, that has been very reassuring

waterlego6064 Thu 31-May-18 22:34:35

Would really love a Q&A with a mortician/embalmer/unsure of the correct term, if any are around to host a thread? My daughter recently expressed an interest in the process of how the deceased are ‘prepared’ for their cremation or burial, and I realised I’m quite interested too!

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 22:36:07

@waterlego that's a question for a funeral director and I think it depends on how hot/cold it is. The deceased and lots of other factors.

DailyMailDontStealMyThread Thu 31-May-18 22:41:47

So interesting, can I ask how much you would earn as a new starter full time please?

MrsMozart Thu 31-May-18 22:43:08

Thank you so much Kermit.

I've just read the whole thread. Your kind answers have allayed a number of things I hadn't even realised I hadn't reconciled in my own head.

DinosApple Thu 31-May-18 22:44:56

Thanks Kermit.

I was going to ask the same as Panda about having the cremated bones returned without them being ground to ash.

I've handled ancient skeletal and cremated bone fragments and personally I take comfort that something of the person survives.

donaldtwerp Thu 31-May-18 22:45:42

Marking place for later

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 22:47:04

@DailyMailDontStealMyThread between 16-17k

FlibbertyGiblets Thu 31-May-18 22:48:28

Kermit thank you. You have demystified the process so sensitively.

Weaverspin Thu 31-May-18 22:56:17

@DinosApple - when I visited a crematorium behind the scenes I asked the same question, and was told that yes, I could have the cremated remains back without them going through the cremulator to grind them down. I don't know if every crematorium would agree to it, though.

therockinggazelle Thu 31-May-18 22:58:44

Fascinating thread thank you!

Would I be right in saying you don't have much direct contact with the deceased? In other words they come in in a sealed coffin from the funeral directors and go straight into the crem? Or are there times you do have to deal with the deceased ( maybe put them in coffin/ dress them) if no funeral director is used? I guess I'm wondering if you see some distressing sights, children/ bad accidents etc. Hope that's not too crass

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:04:11

@therockinggazelle you're absolutely right I don't have any contact with the deceased other than moving the coffin around and charging the cremator.

The funeral director deals with them although I have dealt with open casket funerals but the lid is sealed before committal into the crematory.

bowtieandheels Thu 31-May-18 23:33:16

Hi. You say cancer tumours make a cremation last longer. I can't find any research but it seems incredibly interesting and important to understand why or how this happens. Is this anecdotal or is there more research somewhere?

OurMiracle1106 Thu 31-May-18 23:35:28

You might not know the answer but with non viable fetuses from hospitals are these given any kind of name or just baby mums surname?

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:40:39

@bowtieandheels I don't believe there's any research just what I've experienced and can certainly tell by what bits are left and they tend to be tumors. It would probably make a very interesting study

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:42:04

@OurMiracle1106 some are given names but these tend to be further on. We are doing a 21 week NVF and he has a name but less than 10 weeks tend just to have baby <last name>

OurMiracle1106 Thu 31-May-18 23:44:05

How would I find out what crem dealt with my babies? Would it be the closest one to the hospital and would each individual be given a unique reference number to trace them by?

Bobbiepin Thu 31-May-18 23:46:08

What do your kids think of your job?

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:51:05

@OurMiracle1106 speak to the hospital or funeral director that helped you through.

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:53:44

@Bobbiepin my children know what I do and I'm very keen for them to use the correct terminology. So when my DS went to school and announced that mummy burns people they weren't impressed!

oohnarna Thu 31-May-18 23:54:19

Just saying hi - Funeral Director here grin

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:55:52

@oohnarna hiya...hope I haven't answered any question incorrectly for the funeral side

Bobbiepin Thu 31-May-18 23:56:47

@ilovekermit oh dear, well done DS. He's not wrong though.

Do you think the job had changed your thoughts on your own mortality? Like, do you view your own death differently compared to before you started the job?

kermitrulesok Thu 31-May-18 23:58:53

@Bobbiepin yep, I used to be terrified of death but now I see it as something that has to happen.

oohnarna Thu 31-May-18 23:59:05

I haven't read it all to be honest, what I have reads okay though!

I bet us FDs cause you havoc sometimes not to mention the celebrants that decide to over run and then delay all the other funerals !

kermitrulesok Fri 01-Jun-18 00:01:04

@oohnarna we have hour slots so doesn't really busier Crematoria though yes this causes havoc! Every crem has a minister/celebrant that makes us roll our eyes!

I admire the work that you guys do though and always make sure I let my fds know this.

oohnarna Fri 01-Jun-18 00:03:18

I love my job. Like you, it certainly makes you appreciate life.

FoxtrotSkarloey Fri 01-Jun-18 00:04:41

@oohnarna If you have the time, could you be kind enough to have a read back and consider starting a similar thread? Many of us have found @ILoveKermit 's info helpful and comforting, as well as being informative as have oodles of questions for a funeral director too.

mikeyssister Fri 01-Jun-18 00:08:35

Wow, I assumed all along you were male.... don't really know why.

You have laid to rest so many worries I had about my mother's cremation, without even knowing I had those worries.

oohnarna Fri 01-Jun-18 00:19:00

Foxtrot - I would be happy to do that. I will tomorrow evening.

OurMiracle1106 Fri 01-Jun-18 00:20:50

Thank you Kermit. I’d never really thought too much about what Had happened to my babies (with my 1st I was just 17 and deeply traumatised as I didn’t know you could have a missed miscarriage) the second I was numb and remember signing something but can’t remember what it was for.

Thank you. Id assumed they would just have been medical waste

Weedsnseeds1 Fri 01-Jun-18 00:45:37

Interesting thread, thank you.

MrsDilber Fri 01-Jun-18 00:56:50

How many crematoria do you have? If it's possible for a body to take up to 3 hours, you must surely have a backlog on occasions. Our local crematorium is like a conveyor belt, there are so many done each day.

kermitrulesok Fri 01-Jun-18 01:11:52

@MrsDilber we have the one cremator so if we're cremating til the early hours of next day then so be it.

Solo Fri 01-Jun-18 01:18:43

It's a shame this is in chat and will disappear; could it be moved?

My question is: are you male or female OP?

kermitrulesok Fri 01-Jun-18 01:27:05

@Solo I'm a female...does this surprise you?

Solo Fri 01-Jun-18 01:44:02

No, not really Kermit I was just curious. I have often thought about working shop front for a funeral director myself.
I admire you, and your obvious care and consideration for the departed thanks

HateSummer Fri 01-Jun-18 02:51:08

I have another question, do family’s ever ask to stay and watch the loved one go in the cremator? Would they be allowed to stay and watch the body burn?

Geordiegirl1988 Fri 01-Jun-18 07:11:03

Brilliant thread . We own a green burial site and Iv seen families donfunerals completely on their own . We have had bodies buried in just a curtain ( yes the deceased was wrapped in a curtain ) .

kermitrulesok Fri 01-Jun-18 07:25:47

@HateSummer yes they do. Anyone can witness charge their loved one but can't stay for the whole process.

therockinggazelle Fri 01-Jun-18 08:18:38

Oohnarna I would absolutely love to sea a similar thread from a funeral director. Look forward to your post

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