Some reflections here by Guardian commenter StoPeriyali on the way we do cremation in the UK:
Having been to several (far too many) crematorium services, I have always felt the moment when the curtain closes and they start to hoosh you all out ready for the next one, is utterly dismal, flat, anti-climactic, unsatisfying. You have to leave knowing the box is still just right there, behind a bit off curtain, and it feels like you’re abandoning the person right at the last bitter moment, and doesn’t feel any kind of closure, unlike if you could see the white heat and the coffin ignite.
When it’s me I would like to be put in old family dinghy with all my favourite treats and sentimentally valued stuff, set alight with something spectacularly flammable, and pushed off with sails set towards the Western horizon at sunset.”
This dismal process was what was putting me off cremating one of my late cats. Belize, a splendid Siamese, was the cat of my prime but she finally died during weather like the present and I couldn’t face digging a grave in the slushy mud. I took her to pets’ crematorium and the experience was quite the opposite from the standard human crematorium. I got to lay her out as if she were asleep – all curled up – and surrounded her with flowers. Then she was placed on a sheet of metal and slid into the cremation area (not so much an oven, more open). And then – by now H and S kicked in and this was being seen on a screen – she was seen to burst into flames. It was magnificent and I thought of Patroclus’ funeral pyre in the Iliad. She went to glory!
The kindness of the crematorium staff towards the owners of the pets was exemplary and the day which started out so sadly ended with the feeling I’d done the right thing by a well-loved pet. I think we probably need to actually see flames consuming the coffin to achieve the sense of closure (can’t think of a better expression but appreciate it’s become hackneyed )