Misconceptions & Questions - Part 1

Despite being in this industry for a little under a year I have encountered many misconceptions, strange questions and surprises from people.  They range from the amusing to the absurd or even insulting.  So here is a little list of the stuff I have encountered.

Misconceptions & Questions - Part 2

Misconceptions & Questions - Part 3

Complete List of misconceptions & questions

- What is a transfer vehicle?
    The transfer vehicle is the car used to 'transfer' (pickup and transport) a body.  This involves collecting the body from the hospital, from a nursing home, from the scene of an accident, from a personal residence/house, taking the body interstate and so on.  The transfer vehicle is basically white van, often a Toyota Hicace.

Pictures of inside a transfer van

Explanation of the transfer

- The undertaker buries / cremates the body
    No, never.  The undertaker is a very different person to those who burry or cremate the body.  The people who burry the body are called "gravediggers" (or 'diggers' for short) and are more handymen or gardeners.  They also maintain the cemetery.  Those who cremate the body are crematorium staff and are similar to the diggers in that they are more handymen.  The undertaker deals with the families and the bodies, but does not "commit" the bodies.

- How long does it take a body to burn?
Most people take an average of three hours but it can vary wildly depending on size.  I have heard of how it took about 36 hours to cremate a woman who was just over 300kg.  She only just fit into the crematory.

- What is ash like after someone is cremated?
  Human ash is not like 'ash' as many expect. It is not a fine powder but rather a sandy mixture. It is grainy and rough. This is because bone does not completely burn down. So the lumps of bones left in the retort (cremator) are ground down in a special machine.

- Do you break peoples legs to fit them into the coffin?
No, never. This is simply ridiculous and so funny to me. It would take a LOT of work and effort to break or remove someones legs. It is not worth it, the undertaker would just get a bigger coffin. Or they can bend the legs, legs do bend quite easily. Think of when you sit and when you stand, your legs bend, and without any breaking!

- Do the gravediggers / crematorium staff steal belongings?
No, they do not have the equipment desired to hopen or handle an open coffin. They do not have gloves or training to do it. Many diggers or crem staff have never seen a dead body. But even if they did have the tools they never have the time. Both diggers and crem staff work constantly , they would not have time to go breaking into random coffins on the off chance of finding something valuable.



  1. i would like to say that your answer about 'umdertakers' not committing the body isn't always true. at the funeral home where I work every single funeral director is a certified crematory operator and we are the only ones who work/operate our crematory. and I know this to be the same at many other crematories. so before you say never, id suggest doing some research.

  2. Anonymous22/3/18 00:41

    First of allyou have so much wonderful information and have me lookingatdeath in a whole new way.. GREAT job!!! Okay... i have been married to my husband for over half of my life (litterally) we have always / we are always side by side weather it be at home or work? Now i have no delusions im pretty sure my husband will pass before i do .. as for right now i am 41 and he is 53. We were wondering if it was possible to get a casket/coffin for me to be burried with him (in the same casket/coffin at a later date) snuggling for all eternity. Fif it is possible could you give me an idea/ballpark of what that would entail and an approximate cost ?? We live in the state of washington.


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