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REVEALED: What people want cremated with them

FROM travelling overseas with the ashes of your mother to perhaps never collecting them, there are no limits in the crematorium industry.

With death an inevitable part of life, Gladstone Valley Funerals funeral director Adele Hughes is lifting the misconceptions and erasing the taboo about what really happens in a crematorium.

"We've had people who wanted to put a stubbie in with dad ... others put in other people's ashes," Ms Hughes said.

Ms Hughes said cigarettes in the top pockets of shirts, knitting needles, pens, crossword books, children's drawings and any mementos are often cremated along with the dead person.

"We can't put things that explode, like glass, because it will damage the (chamber)," she said.

END OF THE LINE: Those working in a local crematorium reveal how differently each of us deals with the inevitable, death.
END OF THE LINE: Those working in a local crematorium reveal how differently each of us deals with the inevitable, death.

Funeral assistant Cilla O'Hare said she had even seen people put remote controls in the coffins because "dad liked to channel surf".

The most common misconception about cremations was people thinking their loved ones were removed from the coffin to be cremated, Ms Hughes said.

The funeral director said the deceased remain in their coffins and were cremated with their belongings as long as it was safe to do so.

"I think it goes back to the war years ... and big gas chambers ... where they cremated more than one at a time," Ms Hughes said.

"But it's built to size. More than one coffin wouldn't fit, it's only one at a time."

The cremation process is computerised.

Crematoriums use gas, and the length of time it takes to cremate a person, depends on the size of the body and bone mass.

"People often ask how long it takes to be cremated ... the bigger bones don't cremate down," Ms Hughes said.

Although most family members collect the ashes in their own time, some ashes don't ever get collected.

Ms Hughes said they had about 50 "long term residents" which would remain at the funeral home until they were collected.

When Ms Hughes took over, she said she inherited between 20 and 30 sets of ashes, meaning they've been there for at least 20 years.

"Most families take them ... but you'll find those who don't, have moved on and left Gladstone, or are waiting for their partners so both sets of ashes can be together," she said.

For 2016 there were 136 cremations at Boyne Island's crematorium and 70 burials, making the method 70% more popular than a burial, according to Ms Hughes.

"I think it's the cleanliness and being able to take loved ones home ... you can do anything with the ashes," she said.

One woman was travelling around the world when her mother died and Ms Hughes said she got her cremated and took the ashes the rest of the way with her.

"One woman takes her husband (ashes) overseas and goes through airport security with him," she said.

Death is an all year round inevitable event, but there were peak times of the year including during winter, with the elderly, Ms Hughes said.

"We like to make the funeral as much about the person who's died as possible and encourage it to be as personal as possible," Ms Hughes said.

Topics:  cremation death funeral general-seniors-news gladstone gladstone region wellbeing



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