The topic of death is one that is still difficult for many to talk about; while it is an inevitable part of life, it is a subject still surrounded by stigma. One of our aims at Hunnaball Family Funeral Group is to create safe spaces and opportunities for people to discuss this often-taboo subject, and in doing so helping to ‘lay the myths to rest’ – addressing and dispelling misconceptions, encouraging free discussion, answering questions and being open and honest about our own processes and the funeral industry as a whole.

One of the most common questions we, as funeral directors, have been asked recently is surrounding the identification of cremated remains. Simply put, after a loved one or relative has been cremated, “how can I be sure that I have the right ashes?”

It’s a viable and important question, and always has been, but is a perhaps more prevalent issue than ever, having been raised in the public consciousness due to recent media reports relating to a firm which, at time of writing, is at the centre of a police investigation. The revelations and implications have been quite alarming and understandably very worrying for a lot of people.

Families place a great deal of trust into their funeral director when a loved one passes away, and we feel it’s our duty to honour that by providing the most respectful, compassionate service possible, with attention to detail never compromised. This includes taking incredibly careful steps and meticulous measures at every stage to guarantee that the identity of our deceased and their cremated remains need never be in doubt for the families we work with.

When someone has died and is taken into our care, every action is strictly regulated, with identification processes recorded, checked and signed off at every stage, including a final check on the day of the funeral before the coffin is sealed and placed into the hearse, or equivalent funeral vehicle.

There are also stringent measures in place at crematoria in accordance with the Cremation Code of Practice. A cremation will usually take place within a few hours of the funeral service, if there is one. When a coffin first arrives, its details will be checked and an identity card created, which will then be attached to the cremator into which the coffin is placed. Only one coffin will ever go in at a time and more than one coffin will never be cremated at the same time. The same identity card is kept with the cremated remains until they leave the premises, either collected by the family directly or by our team, in which scenario they are then logged and held in a secure sanctuary awaiting further instructions from next of kin.

All genuine and reputable funeral directors are required to comply with these regulations and processes, which will ensure that families can be assured they are receiving the individual ashes of their loved one.

We are also members of the National Association of Funeral Directors, and for our part, every team member at every branch takes their duty of care extremely seriously, at all times and at each stage of all our processes. We’re proud to serve families, thoroughly and compassionately, at their time of need and are committed to remaining transparent about the way that we deliver our care and services; if you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Melanie Hunnaball, of Hunnaball Family Funeral Group will be discussing topics like this, and laying other funeral myths to rest, in her regular newspaper column over the coming months. Keep an eye out in the Colchester Gazette and other Essex local/Newsquest papers to give them a read – and don’t forget to follow us on social media for news and updates.