The interment of ashes, simply means to keep the ashes in a permanent place. This is usually a burial plot, but it can be a columbarium (dealt with separately).
Interment of ashes provides a good option for:
- those with religious faith (particularly those of a catholic faith where it is required),
- those that have family already buried at a location; and
- those that like the sense of tradition and stability that a graveyard or cemetery can provide.
Burial grounds can be owned/run by either the Church (Church of England or the Catholic Church), the Local Authority (the Council) or they may be private, this latter choice tends to be Green Burial Grounds which aim for a much more natural burial.
Churchyards have different rules to those of local authorities, firstly churchyards are consecrated (blessed) which means should you wish to move the ashes (exhume) at a later date (eg for reasons of access) then this can become very difficult. Local Authorities tend to be more relaxed in terms of exhumation, but have areas of their cemeteries that are also consecrated: this area then falls under church jurisdiction. Green burial grounds do not tend to be consecrated.
Many churchyards are closed to new full size burials but there may be space for the interment of ashes either separately or placed in a family plot. Cremated remains grave spaces are smaller and plots can take around to four individual caskets of ashes (although this may vary).
You will need to purchase a grave ahead of the time, alternatively you can be buried in a family plot if there is room and you are entitled. As to whether you are entitled to depends on who has a claim on the grave. So for example if you wished to be buried in the same plot as your grandmother and she had two children and six grandchildren but there is only space for four ashes caskets then you will need the consent of the other parties.
If you hold ashes of someone and wish to inter them, you should seek acceptance of their/your immediate family to check that this is okay.
Depending on who owns the cemetery, the ashes will need to be in suitable wooden or biodegradable casket, which bears a name-plate and date of death of the deceased.
Before the interment, you are likely to be asked for the cremation certificate – this more than likely should you choose to bury outside of the locality, in another county for example.
You will need to arrange a time suitable with the church or the local authority, they tend to need at least two days’ notice to prepare the grave, but individual timings can vary.
There will be paper work that will need to be signed to demonstrate you have the right to bury there. The deeds of the plot and notification of internment of ashes form (these vary).
In addition, if it is a church land , you will need to speak to the vicar or priest and please bear in mind that they may wish to conduct a service. Whilst this may not be your or the deceased’s belief system, it may be better to do this and have the occasion marked. Clergy can be reasonably accommodating and we would suggest that you ask them to find a mutually agreeable solution.
There will be a cost. These can vary significantly.
The local authority will not arrange a faith leader or humanist celebrant to conduct the service and if you need their services, you will be excepted to sort that yourself – your funeral director should be able to help you also to. The same it true for many green burial sites.