Hemel Hempstead (01442) 253465

Berkhamsted (01442) 870326

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we are regularly asked by people who are arranging funerals. Hopefully they will help to answer some of your questions too, but if not you can either visit us in person, call us or send us an email.

Questions about arranging a funeral

How long will it take to arrange a funeral?

When you visit us, you will need to allow up to an hour to discuss the funeral arrangements and sign the necessary forms. Depending on the complexity of the funeral arrangements, it may take more or less time, but an hour is approximately right.


How long until we can have a service?

This will depend on the funeral arrangements. A simple burial may only take a few days to arrange, a service in church followed by a cremation may take longer. Cremations generally take longer to happen due to the complexity of the paperwork involved. If the Coroner is involved, this can also add time. We will advise you approximately how long you can expect to wait for the service when you contact us.

If you have any important dates, such as travel plans, birthdays, etc. please let us know as soon as you can so that we can accommodate your requirements.


When will our loved one be removed from the hospital?

This will depend on a number of factors. Initially there may be paperwork that needs to be completed in order to remove your loved one from the hospital. Once this is in place, we will plan to move them back to our premises. When this happens will be dependent on our staff and vehicle's availability, and other details such as availability of the coffin, etc. We will advise you when we expect to be able to bring your loved one into our care, and when they are with us.


Can you get our loved on from the hospital the same day we make the arrangements?

This short answer to this is sometimes. If the paperwork is completed and available to us, and we have staff available, then we may be able to accommodate this as a special request, however we cannot guarantee it.

Questions about funeral services

What if I live away from the Hemel Hempstead area, but my relative has died there?

Please contact us as soon as you can to discuss your requirements. We may be able to make some of the arrangements by phone or email, and important documents can be posted by recorded delivery for signature, etc. We can also advise on the registration process, which may not require you to come to Dacorum. Read more about registering a death...


Does my funeral have to be taken by a priest/vicar?

No, it doesn't. You can choose whether to have a religious or non-religious funeral. Either way, you do not actually need to have an officiant involved in the funeral, although it is strongly advised. Read more about non-religious funerals...


Can I have "My Way" by Frank Sinatra played at the funeral?

Yes, you can. Nearly all churches and crematoria have facilities for playing CDs, so you can simply bring them to us prior to the funeral and let the Minister/Celebrant know your wishes. West Herts Crematorium, Chilterns Crematorium and a number of others have a system where music is downloaded by them in preparation for your funeral service, obviating the need for CDs. Read more about funeral music...


Is there a more ecologically friendly way to have a funeral?

Yes. Whilst all of our coffins are made from sustainable timber, we are able to offer cardboard, willow and bamboo coffins, which many people consider to be more "green". We can also offer the option of a woodland burial at Woodwells Cemetery or another local woodland burial park. Read more about green funerals...


Can I place personal effects in the coffin with my loved one?

Yes. Whilst there are some limitations on what can be placed in the coffin for a cremation, you can place any legal, non-hazardous item in a coffin for a burial. If you are coming to visit your loved one in our chapel of rest, this is an ideal time to do this. Alternatively if you do not wish to come to our chapels, we will place the item in the coffin for you.


What happens to the flowers after the funeral?

When a burial takes place, the flowers come to the cemetery or churchyard on the hearse. They are normally removed and placed somewhere near the grave for the family and other mourners to look at following the service. When the grave is completed, they will be moved onto the grave and will remain there for a time. Each cemetery and churchyard will have different rules on how long floral tributes may remain, and you should enquire direct with them to establish this.

When a cremation takes place, the flowers will travel to the crematorium on the hearse. During the service, they will be taken on to the flower terrace, where they can be viewed following the service. Usually they will remain in place for a day or two until they are removed by the crematorium staff.

Your funeral director will normally offer you some options regarding flowers following the service. The options will differ depending on where the funeral has taken place.

Questions about cremations

Does the coffin get cremated?

Yes. Whatever type of coffin you choose, it is cremated. Crematorium rules are very strict on this, and it is why the contents of the coffin are important. Once on the catafalque at the front of the chapel, the coffin is not opened or changed in any way. Normally any floral tribute is removed from the top of the coffin prior to cremation, but the coffin itself is not tampered with. The handles are made of a combustible material (metal handles are not allowed for cremation), and these remain in place.

What happens to the ashes after a cremation?

The ashes are placed in a temporary storage container (a 'polytainer' or cardboard container depending on the crematorium) immediately following the cremation. Depending on what you have instructed at the time of arranging the funeral, they will either remain at the crematorium on temporary deposit for a short time, or be returned to our offices. You can also collect them yourself directly from the crematorium. We can place the ashes into a casket, urn or keepsake in preparation for them to be collected from us by you, or for interment at a cemetery or churchyard. Alternatively the ashes can be scattered in the garden of remembrance at the crematorium.


Why can we not put shoes in the coffin?

Certain materials, such as rubber, vinyl or latex, can emit toxic chemicals when cremated. Modern crematoria are fitted with filters to minimise the risk to the environment, but they cannot completely remove all harmful chemicals. For this reason, anything which may be toxic when cremated is barred from being placed in the coffin. As most shoes have rubber soles, or are made in such as way that it is not possible to identify every material involved in the construction, we do not allow them into the coffin.


Do I get my loved one's ashes back from the crematorium?

Yes. There are very strict laws and regulations governing crematoria, which include the fact that all cremations must be separate (there are one or two exceptional circumstances where an exception can be made to this rule, which you would be made aware of at the time of arranging the funeral). Each coffin is cremated exactly as it is received at the crematorium and when the cremation is complete, the ashes are raked into a single container ready for collection or scattering. At this point, the metals are removed and recycled.

Questions about paying for a funeral

How much can we claim from the Social Fund?

The answer to this varies, depending on your circumstances and if you qualify. Read more about funeral payments on the UK government web site...


Will it be cheaper to have a cardboard coffin?

Due to the difficulty of constructing a sturdy coffin made entirely from cardboard, the cost is most often comparable to the more traditionally made coffins we supply. Read more about our coffin selection...


Why do we have to pay two doctors for cremation papers?

There is a legal requirement in England and Wales that, before a cremation can take place, the deceased must be examined by two doctors. The first is normally the deceased's own GP, the second is an independent GP from another practice. Both doctors must complete the necessary legal forms for the cremation to happen. The BMA sets a national fee, which the doctors are entitled to charge for visiting the Funeral Director's premises or the hospital mortuary, examining the deceased, and completing the forms.

Other Questions

Where is my loved one kept until the funeral?

Your loved one will be brought into our care at either our Hemel Hempstead or Berkhamsted premises. We have a mortuary in each location, with refrigerated areas where your loved one will stay until the day of the funeral.


Do you only wear black?

Our company image is very important to us. Our staff will always be turned out in black suits when working, and our funeral directors wear a gold cravat. Unfortunately we cannot provide suits in other colours or casual attire for funeral work, however if you wish to use your own bearers (friends or family for instance), they can wear whatever you choose.


Can we supply our own coffin?

Unfortunately, due to the need for the coffin to be structurally sound and to meet environmental health regulations for both burial and cremation, we are unable to accept coffins other than those supplied by us, or supplied by another funeral director as part of a repatriation package. Certain coffins and caskets supplied for repatriation may not be suitable for use in this country, but we will advise you when we have made an examination.


Why do we need bearers when the coffin could be wheeled?

We always supply a minimum of four bearers for each funeral. Most families would prefer for a coffin not to be moved on wheels at a funeral, and even where this is necessary, we still have to provide staff to lift the coffin on and off the wheels, and to control them during transit. Should you choose to supply your own bearers, we will always provide our own to accompany them, as often the physical and emotional exertion can be too much for some family members. Our bearers are also required to drive our vehicles.


Can we visit the chapel in the evening or at weekends?

Our normal office hours at Hemel Hempstead are Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00, and at Berkhamsted are Monday to Friday 10:00 to 4:00. During these times, you can book an appointment to spend some time in our chapel by contacting the relevant office. Occasionally we may be able to provide a member of staff to facilitate a visit outside of these hours, however this cannot by guaranteed.


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