Frequently Asked Questions
1. Must there be a religious ceremony with a cremation? No. You may choose a secular ceremony, however, should you wish to have a religious ceremony, but do not have a specific clergy person, Richter Funerals can arrange for one to conduct the service.
2. Must I have the funeral service at the crematorium? No. Some prefer to have the funeral service conducted either at their church, at the Funeral Home's Chapel, or at some other place of their choice. Some request that a portion of the service be held at their church, with a short committal service in the crematorium chapel, or that the whole service be conducted in the crematorium chapel.
3. Is there provision for the use of music at a crematorium? Yes. The local crematorium does provide an organ and the facility to play recorded music.
4. How is a cremation arranged? Richter Funerals can arrange for the completion of the statutory forms for cremation. If you are the executor or the next of kin, or are authorised by either to do so, you will be required to sign the statutory Application for Cremation before a Commissioner of Oaths. Richter Funerals will assist you with this.
5. Do I sign anything else at this stage? Apart from an agreement with Richter Funerals which you should sign confirming your wishes for the funeral service, you will be asked how you wish to dispose of the ashes. If undecided, Richter Funerals will arrange storage for the ashes, giving you time to make a decision.
6. Who gives permission for a cremation to take place? Permission is only given by a Medical referee appointed by the crematorium authority. The Medical referee relies on the Application for Cremation, together with a Medical Declaration from the doctor who attended the deceased in the final illness, as well as a Confirmatory Medical Declaration from a second doctor, who confirms the findings of the first doctor relating to the cause of death. Should the Medical Referee decline to authorise cremation, a private autopsy will be necessary if you still desire cremation.
7. Is it true that a pacemaker must be removed before cremation? Yes. These implants can explode at high temperatures, causing damage to the cremators.
8. What happens to the coffin after committal? The coffin is lowered and the nameplate is checked with the Authority to Cremate document to ensure the correct identity before cremation commences.
9. Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator? Yes. With some religious groups it is a religious requirement that this be done, but in other cases the superintendent of the crematorium would grant permission.
10. Does the cremation take place immediately? Yes, unless due to unforeseen circumstances.
11. Is the coffin cremated with the deceased? Yes. The coffin, as received, is always cremated.
12. Must a coffin always be used for cremation? Yes, the crematorium requires a coffin to be opaque and completely enclose the body, be strong enough to bear the weight of the deceased without collapsing and be of combustible material.
13. Is more than one coffin cremated at one time in a cremator? No. The design of modern cremators does not allow for two adults to be cremated together.
14. How long does the cremation process normally last? Approximately 90 minutes.
15. What happens with precious and other metals? The temperature at which a modern cremator operates (between 800° C and 1000°C) is such that metals are fused with other material so that they are not recognizable. Any metallic material residue from a cremation is normally disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the relevant crematorium authority. It is therefore strongly recommended that any items of jewellery should be removed by the family immediately after death and prior to cremation.
16. How do I know I will get the right ashes? As each cremator will only accept one adult coffin, and the ashes must be withdrawn before the cremator is used again, all ashes are kept separate throughout the process. The crematorium uses a process of uniquely identifying ashes and families can rest assured that the correct ashes are ultimately handed over.
17. What happens to the ashes after they are removed from the cremator? When the cremation is completed, the ashes are withdrawn from the cremator onto a cooling tray. When cool, any ferrous material is removed by means of a magnetic field, and the remaining ashes are then placed into a machine which reduces them to a granular form, consisting of bone ash, and weighing approximately 2 kg. The quantity of ashes depends on the size and age of the deceased and, in the case of babies and very young children, there may be minimal ashes recovered.
18. What options do I have with ashes? Ashes may be scattered or buried at the local Crematorium or within your church grounds, or at some other place of your choice, e.g. on a mountain, at sea, in a garden, under a rose bush, etc. The local crematorium has a wall of remembrance as well as a garden of remembrance into which ashes can be interred. Most churches also provide this facility. Some families opt to bury ashes in an existing family grave, or have the ashes placed in a memorial urn which you could keep at home. Richter Funerals can assist you to carry out your wishes.
19. Is it possible to send ashes to other parts of the country or overseas? Yes. Richter Funerals can arrange this for you.
20. Is cremation less expensive than burial? No. Although the funeral director's charges are much the same for both services, the additional cost of a grave and the opening and closing fee is generally much higher than that of cremation. In addition, with burial, there is the cost of a memorial stone and grave maintenance.