I work for the largest direct cremation provider in the UK.

Ama 🤣

https://imgur.com/a/nYr6Cg6 & https://imgur.com/a/QQOuXzT

Comments: 240 • Responses: 87  • Date: 

Elephantpingu296 karma

Jeez please don't post your name and where you work on reddit some people are crazy. Edit- I mean some users not you ofc

Icy-Temperature-890467 karma

Yeah didn't really think about that, I've updated it aha

littlefoot190427 karma

Your work address is still on the second image.

Icy-Temperature-89044 karma

The work address is the main crematorium. Can Google that from the company name. I'm not fussed. I'm never there aha

Edit: the company is very transparent, has a walk through of the entire crematorium - including the cremators. Just not the mortuary

FoxMcLOUD42071 karma

Ever have one wake up on ya?

Icy-Temperature-890471 karma

No aha, that would be freaky

Will say the mortuary at midnight is a bit creepy. 😂

Lucky Im not there at night much

FoxMcLOUD42012 karma

haha just messing about. cheers m8

Icy-Temperature-89049 karma

Yeah zombies don't exist 🤣

No probs!

socialbutterflyish2 karma

Lucky I'm not there at night much

Better hadn't be...

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Well depende what time I get back or if I do a night shift prepping Our crematorium runs 24/7 including night time

Icy-Temperature-89044 karma

No aha, that would be freaky

Will say the mortuary at midnight is a bit creepy. 😂

Lucky Im not there at night much

JimJam2861 karma

Did you see an uptick during the Covid waves?

Icy-Temperature-8904155 karma

Massive uptick to be honest, almost doubled and we've been doing more and more since. I remember doing COVID collections everyday

Now haven't had a COVID collection in weeks

WhichWayzUp28 karma

do you catch any biohazardous sicknesses from the corpses?

Icy-Temperature-890447 karma

None so far.

Some from hospitals will have an infectious disease label. And we just confirm how that travels

Mostly cause we wear gloves we're fine and if needed we add a mask

JimJam2823 karma

I suspected as much. I heard the same from friends who work in ICUs. Thanks for your reply!

Icy-Temperature-890435 karma

No probs! COVID deaths have dropped dramatically now

JimJam2813 karma

That’s reassuring!

Icy-Temperature-890419 karma


We collect from nursing homes and such as well and we collected a lot of people with COVID before but now .. not for agee

artsy89711 karma

What about suicides, at the hospital I work at they have increased alarmingly!

Icy-Temperature-890440 karma

Suicides not so much. We collect mainly people from old age and such but also we don't see cause of death unless we read the paperwork which I don't tend to do

Collected one guy who was 105! No health complications, just died of old age

artsy89711 karma

It’s great you are such a conscientious worker.

Icy-Temperature-890440 karma

Yeah I love my job and I see it as another form of care

Most of the drivers do. But obviously have to remember they're dead and that all we cant get too attached. Hence why I don't read the paperwork

It's a fine line

artsy89710 karma

It is a necessary form of care…thanks!

Icy-Temperature-89046 karma

No probs!

Steelstrike30945 karma

How did you end up in this line of work, and what educational background is required, if any?

Icy-Temperature-890458 karma

Pure chance, started in the office doing prepaid plans as it was a job on a good wage

And got more into it and moved over to collecting the deceased later on

And no education needed you learn on the job

jimintoronto11 karma

Here in Canada we call what you do "body removal". I did that as a young University student in the mid 1970's, working for a private contractor. He had a contract with the Toronto Police for removals to the Coroner's office. A plain black van with no rear windows. Some times we would get a special trip to transport a body to one of the medical schools for dissection classes. JimB.

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Sounds super interesting!

AdmiralAkbar139 karma

How often do you hear quotes from the "Bring out your dead" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Icy-Temperature-890440 karma

Not too often

Main jokes are around us having free funerals and any death pun

Such as, done and dusted

LunarTealfish11 karma

Free funerals? Lmaoo

Icy-Temperature-890452 karma

All the employees get a free funeral with the company same with our close family

dutchnoob42012 karma

That’s a really lovely initiative from the company. Funerals can be so expensive and can put entire families into debt, but I’m sure you know all about that!

Icy-Temperature-890417 karma

Definitely, though as we do direct cremation there's no big funeral so price wise we're quite cheap. Our most expensive is 1595 + 200 for a family gathering with a prepaid plan.

No plan is slightly cheaper. 1195 for a collection from hospitals or mortuary 1445 from home or hospice with no mortuary

40779 karma

"I'm not dead yet!"

Icy-Temperature-890419 karma

That's a common response to our marketing!

kconnors35 karma

With all of that constant exposure to death, do you believe in an afterlife?

Icy-Temperature-890453 karma

To be honest no

Just because I see the whole thing and I think if there was an afterlife then the bodies wouldn't decay or something so they wouldn't have to see themselves in that state

souIIess29 karma

I understand it might be something you get used to, but I've a friend in the same business, and stuff like teen suicides just sucks for everyone involved is pretty much how he tells it.

Are there times when you just need to go home and hug someone? What types of cases would that be for you?

And a second question, are there times when it's the opposite? What is a great day at work for you?

Icy-Temperature-890488 karma

To be honest, I don't find myself affected too much with anything

I've collected a few children which has been sad.

But the main way I deal is to think I'm helping the family ultimately so I'm doing a good thing.

And to be honest, I love my job. Morbid sometimes. Yes. But I love it and really enjoy it, but then it's a great company and great people I work with. So. Yeah. I also get to feel I'm making a difference to people

CallMe_Pancho24 karma

How often do your clients complain about your driving?

Icy-Temperature-890425 karma

😂 never, one of the perks of them having passed. No backseat driving!

But on a serious note we do get some complaints when they see a van in a McDonald's car park, though those complaints dont even get passed to us as after all, we're doing 16 hour shifts a lot of the time, so. We gotta eat

sacredfool21 karma

Does McD pay you per person or per kilogram?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Approx £20 per kilo 😂😂

Kidding ofc

South-Lobster44809 karma

They keep it to themselves most of the time, I just think they're trying to be polite

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

I mean it's lovely they never interrupt😂

ForeignBazaar20 karma

What percent of the dead are cremated versus buried in the UK and are the bodies handled differently for each option?

Icy-Temperature-890446 karma

England is 80% cremation

Scotland is opposite, 20% cremation

And can't speak for buried too much. But unless families are having a viewing I can't imagine much changes.

Aside from we remove glass/pacemakers etc as they can't go into the cremator

Daymeeon19 karma

How would you best describe the smell of human decay and is it true that it is such a distinctive odor that it is difficult if not impossible to simulate/replicate it fully? (As in general biological waste or animal carcasses )

Icy-Temperature-890429 karma

Smells a bit like ... Rotting food I guess. Specifically meat.

Its difficult to describe for sure.

A trick I use is a fruity gum when I know I've got one that's particularly decomposed, covers the smell

Hairy_Salad_699216 karma

Ever had to pick up a close friend or family member?

Icy-Temperature-890454 karma

No, and if it came up I'd reject the collection

Arkeros6 karma

I'm surprised you wouldn't unless it was an accidental death or post autopsy.
I help out at a funeral home, mostly collecting the dead. Whenever bereaved are involved, washing, dressing, or simply carrying the closed casket it's a positive experience for them. Having done everything I usually do for my grandfather I'm happy that I didn't decline the offer.

Any reason you think you wouldn't?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Uh just because I'd want to remember them alive. I wouldn't want my last image of them to be in a body bag

Dispatcher1215 karma

Do you find that dealing with the practicalities of death makes it less a thing to dread or fear?

Icy-Temperature-890424 karma

Definitely, didn't dread it too much before but now it's just what it is now

Icy-Temperature-890415 karma

To those watching, don't be afraid to ask 😂 you won't ask anything I've not heard before 😂

CypripediumCalceolus14 karma

Mum was an ambulance driver during the blitz, but she collected the living, the dead, but mostly in between. Small world.

Icy-Temperature-89049 karma

That's crazy! I'm sure she has some crazy stories!

CypripediumCalceolus1 karma

She's gone now, but the only crazy story she ever told was about her German ex-boyfriend who came to visit her home town in a strafing run and waved to her. I think the other stories were too difficult to tell, death and more death.

Icy-Temperature-89045 karma

Yeah I get that

Rishloos13 karma

What is your official job title?

Biggest mistake you've made on the job?

Icy-Temperature-890447 karma

Private ambulance crew member (scheduled days)

Basically the scheduled bit is that I do Monday to Friday

Although within the company we're referred to as Operatives and externally when people ask what I do I just say private ambulance driver

And probably when I took a corner too fast when I first started and the body flipped over.

A common mistake when you're new, particularly on the corner I did it on, it's a sharp bend and I took it about 20mph but it was a lot sharper than I expected.

It was fine, the deceased was ok. But it's a mistake nonetheless

phacepalmm69 karma

the deceased was ok

best answer ever

cybershoe17 karma

“Their condition remained stable.”

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Accurate, there was no change 😂

justsigndupforthis9 karma

Any creepy stories?

Icy-Temperature-890415 karma

Creepy not so much, but I can describe some pretty grim deceased though if you can handle it 🤣

justsigndupforthis8 karma

Sure if you're willing! Dont worry my mom was tasked to look after a morgue during her residency and she used to tell me these kind of stories as a kid lol

Icy-Temperature-890429 karma

Definitely, weve collected quite a few from car crashes and things so there's a lot of blood often so much can't see much of them

Another common one is where a funeral director hasn't had refrigerated storage and they're mouldy or have maggots

But probably most common is from hospitals and theres fluid and the smell can be awful, one had an infectious tag and yellow fluid everywhere. Who knows what It was but my colleague and I just looked at each other with a "wtf" expression especially when they just cut the infectious tag off and said "oh we don't need it anymore"

yeahitsmems8 karma

Jeez what do I gotta do to avoid being maggoty? Just go to the right funeral director?

Biscoo5 karma

Make sure the funeral home has a fridge and not just a cold room which in summer is not cold at all lol

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Exactly and hope the paperwork is processed quick for a quick cremation 😂

TopThrill137 karma

Are families ever aggressive towards you? How often are families fighting at pick-up?

Icy-Temperature-890410 karma

None for me personally

But i know a colleague did get shoved against a wall

And more recently a family member was drunk and shouting and such.

Greif does crazy things

We only collect if they're 100% sure. And even then it's not a done deal we can always take the deceased somewhere else if they change their mindm

Icy-Temperature-89047 karma

And her quite a few arguing among themselves. One where 1 person had a lot of questions and the other was telling her no just call the office on Monday

But normally we just get out quick when that happens

Langola6 karma

What do you make?

Icy-Temperature-890435 karma

I make 25k a year cause I'm Monday to Friday. Those who do 4 days on and 4 days off as a shift pattern make 29k and those who do nights make .. 33k ? I think

All the salaries are standardised and public on job adverts

Icy-Temperature-890421 karma

Reality is more with overtime

Tough9218 karma

Is that a living wage were you are form? In the US regardless of what state your In a 25k salary is poverty

Icy-Temperature-890423 karma

As a single income it's not fab, but livable for sure. But reality is, I never actually earn my base salary

With overtime and food subsidiary I get between 2.2k and 2.7k a month after tax

Edit: should state that for the industry. It's very good, especially for just collecting. Many companies pay less and you have to fully prep the deceased for cremation. But we don't have time with amount of volume so we have dedicated people for that

InappropriateTA5 karma

How big is your collection?

How do you arrange them?

Icy-Temperature-890410 karma

Not sure how you mean big, so I'll answer both.

We collect up to about 40 stone people, we have large coffins for people

If you mean big in terms of how many, we can collect 1 or 4 deceased in 1 trip. But kind of depends on the day.

And we arrange typically on cremation date and that dictates the order of collection, beyond that, I just get my work and go, we have a team of schedulers who arranged everything and sorts our paperwork etc

InappropriateTA1 karma

I appreciate your response. I was actually just making a dumb joke.

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

All good aha 😂

Corka5 karma

Have you ever been particularly happy one day and just been smiling to yourself or humming a happy tune, and then you realise you are working and maybe your expression is a bit inappropriate?

(You do have a great smile by the way!)

Icy-Temperature-89045 karma

Haha, all the bloody time 😂

theundeadfairy5 karma

You don’t read the background or papers on what happened to the deceased but was there a time early on where you were more curious about the people you were picking up?

Icy-Temperature-890410 karma

There was, when I started if I had paperwork I'd read it cause I was curious, especially if they were young, probably stopped about a couple weeks in

Edit: to add, the paperwork only says personal details and cause of death. Beyond that we don't know anything even if we do read it

theundeadfairy8 karma

Glad you figured out early. Some people don’t realize that just because they can doesn’t mean they should.

Icy-Temperature-890412 karma

Definitely. I found I was getting sad and attached

And you can't afford to in this job. Have to remember it is a job at the end of the day

Very important one. But a job nonetheless

anotherone1215 karma

What's the strangest (or funniest/wackiest) way a "customer" has died?

Icy-Temperature-890417 karma

Had one who attempted to commit suicide by hanging themself in the bathroom. But it didn't hold, so they fell but then they hit their head on the bathtub and died


One where a woman was giving her husband head and choked. And died of a heart attack cause of the stress of it all.


guy who died fucking his wife, but uh had to wait for paramedics and police cause he was uh..stuck. they had to separate them.

VermiciousKnnid3 karma

How does a penis get stuck in a vagina? I've heard of it with dogs, but not humans.

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Don't even know, didn't ask

anotherone1213 karma

# 3 is the winner... but #2 is pretty good too

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Aha definitely it was entertaining to read those ones

TheDollyRickPhilos1 karma

Jfc... the poor wife

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Definitely aha

Chickens15 karma

What's the ripest one you had to pick up?

Icy-Temperature-890412 karma

To be honest most are ok on pickup

It's more later on when there's delays in paperwork, obviously there's only so much we can do to slow the decomposition

But I will say the ones we collect from other FDs are worst cause of the delays for funerals and such. Mould is definitely a thing.

And fluid, one I prepped today had a good 3 inches of fluid in the coffin.

Educational_Blood_466 karma

oh jesus lmao what the fuck. i never thought about that

Icy-Temperature-89048 karma

Yeah what the fluid was... No idea but it was there 😂

popejubal5 karma

Why do you need an ambulance to pick up bodies? Is it a regulation or is it just because they’re built conveniently? I’m sure a van would be a lot cheaper than an ambulance.

Icy-Temperature-890417 karma

They are vans, ford transits, some are extended wheel base ones, they've just been blacked out and have a lift in the back so we can carry 4 deceased on board

Private ambulance is just the term the industry uses. All funeral directos use the term, so if you ever see one, that's what it is. It's just used to describe them and gives us some leeway on parking in dodgy spots, double yellows etc because sometimes we don't have a choice the house is .. where it is. Can't move it so.

When people see ambulance they tend to leave us alone.

You asked about regulation. In funerals here in the UK, there's no regulation at all.

Biscoo3 karma

Regulations are changing, Funeral directors will soon fall under the FCA rules and regulations.

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Prepaid plans only. We've submitted the application, we're ready

But the actual funeral side won't be affected by that

PaulHaman4 karma

Have you read the book "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"? If so, what did you think of it?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Never read it!

PaulHaman3 karma

I really enjoyed it. Worth checking out, especially given your line of work!

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

I'll check it out! Thanks

veroIShere8 karma

The author is Caitlin Doughty and she has a great informative YouTube channel {Ask a Mortician} and a podcast {Order of the Good Death}. I also find her hilarious which is always fun lol

Icy-Temperature-89044 karma

Not seen her but there is those ask a X series and theres a mortician one too

So interesting to hear more about embalming and things where we don't do it and so I don't know anything about that side of things

asianmovielover6053 karma

Have you had any contact of spirits?

Icy-Temperature-89045 karma

Not that I know of!

john_whitten3 karma

Have you ever had a deceased person that was too tall to fit into your ambulance? If so, did you cut them in half and glue them back together, or what? (Asking for a friend :-) )

Icy-Temperature-89044 karma

Aha no, not yet, the vans are quite long so over 6ft isn't a problem

Besides people shrink as they age and mostly we do pick up the elderly.. for obvious reasons

tantracalj3 karma

Have you ever picked up bodies from a murder scene?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Nope, thankfully

Studoku3 karma

Have you ever turned up to collect someone who turned out to be alive?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

No, there's processes in place, a Dr comes out and checks the deceased before we go

AdevilSboyU2 karma

How often does the phrase “Bring out yer dead!” run through your head every day?

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

All the time 😂

vio2121 karma

Do you talk to the bodies? I'm imagining myself just absentmindedly chatting up my dog about random shit when it's just me and her. Do you do the same with the bodies? Tell them they had a rough day lol.

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

Sometimes, I don't tend to, but many drivers do.

For me it's a little too personal, and I find I prefer not to personalize them too much, think I'd be more sad more often

But each to their own

buzz_uk1 karma

You have said that you collect all sorts of people, large and small; do you work alone or do you need several of you to load ?

Ps, thank you for your humorously honest responses; having had relatives pass it makes me feel a lot more at ease knowing that folks like yourself are doing this important job.

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Absolutely aha, we do and working alone or together varies

Home collections always are pairs

But can call in extra assistance if needed (once family advised she was "average" she was 25 stone and we called in another team. So 4 of us did the removal)

Hospitals, depends on distance and length of day.

But the hospital will advise if the deceased is large and needs a pair or trio and we send the relevant number of people needed

buzz_uk1 karma

25 stone is an awful lot to handle sensitively! Many many years ago I worked as a lifeguard and had to lift an unconscious person out of a pool, they don’t call it “dead weight” for nothing!!

Thank you for doing this AMA t has been one of the most interesting ones I have read for a long long time :) have a great day kind internet stranger

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Definitely, it's very heavy aha, took 4 of us.

Not the heaviest person weve had cremated

Heaviest was 40 stone

Tho before my time at the company

Edit: worth nothing that sometimes safety overrules elegance, so there has been times we have to use a more versatile stretcher and drag them down the stairs / out the house

buzz_uk1 karma

Is it true that any bigger than that and you need specialist (farm animal) sized machines for cremation?

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

Uh I think so? Any bigger and we take them elsewhere as they won't fit in ours

TylerVancouver1 karma

Do you get to use the car pool lane?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

No,but we do get to go in areas of hospitals that say no access ambulance only and park on double yellows If needed

socialbutterflyish1 karma

Have you ever propped a corpse up like Weekend At Bernie's, and moved its mouth to your own words, like a ventriloquist?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Nah aha

Crazy_Mode_88451 karma

How much do you get paid?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

25k as I'm Monday to Friday, other shifts offer more money

But reality is that I never actually earn that base cause of overtime

Normally 2.5 ish a month after tax

oatmealchameleon1 karma

Have you ever dropped a body?

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

No thankfully. But sometimes it has happened to others

[deleted]1 karma


Icy-Temperature-89045 karma

Correct, but I do find when I mention where I work people have questions, so thought I'd post, and as you can see theres quite a few questions.

Unsurprisingly since it's an industry that isn't posted or talked about much if ever

sempersiren1 karma

Do you transfer the bodies by yourself? Do you bring the coffin inside with you and transfer to coffin first?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

So when we collect we don't out them in coffins yet we out them on stretchers

Then when at the mortuary we put them in coffins

And yes sometimes, depends on where I'm going and how long the drives are that's what determines if we're paired up or not

Edit: we do sometimes have to move encoffined bodies between mortuaries which is also something typically done in pairs but can be done alone depends how many people are around and private address collections are always in pairs. Never know what you might get and what you might need to do to get them out of the house and into our care

Resting_Fartface1 karma

A friend of mine used to do this as well. He said the weirdest thing ever was after he had done a pickup and heard a noise, turns out, it was the body in the back farting.

Ever had to deal with a gassy corpse?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Yep and something called "the last breath" which is as it sounds.

But they purge. The liquid inside has to go.. somewhere

Out one end or the other

Any_Alfalfa_7001 karma

How do you avoid taking work home with you? Is it stressful dealing with so much death on a regular basis?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

I don't find it stressful cause at the end of the day it's in terms of the workm


Just the emotional bit to deal with.

But you just separate work and home into boxes in your mind. Easier said than done

MurderDoneRight1 karma

You ever collect the remains of people who jumped in front of trains and such? Where there's just pieces and mush left of them.

I was offered that job once and I decided to decline.

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

I've never done it... But then I'd guess they go to coroner..?

extra_pickles1 karma

Wouldn’t that make you a hearse driver?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma


I don't drive a hearse. I drive a private ambulance

Aka a blacked out transit van

the_gryfferin1 karma

How did you decide to be an ambulance driver? Also, have you ever gone to pick up the corpse just to realize the person is still alive?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Chance, was selling the prepaid plans and a driver needed assistance, and really enjoyed it so transferred over full time

boredsittingonthebus1 karma

In the UK when I see a big silver vehicle with 'Private Ambulance' on it, is it always there to pick up a deceased person?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Always, silver probably means co op, check for Their little blue logo. But it will be for th deceased, probably off to collect or having just collected

TazzyUK1 karma

Probably stating the obvious but I would imagine you have to be fairly fit for this job ?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

Wellll you'd think

But a couple drivers here are about 22 stone themselves

General rule of thumb. Be able to lift your own weight. Tho. I don't think they can.

Mainly strength and correct technique gets you through, but ideally be fairly fit

5hadow_Swrl1 karma

How’d you get into this field of work? How many years have you been doing this? Whats the hours like?

Icy-Temperature-89041 karma

By chance.

Did the prepaid plans for the company before Driver needed help

And I loved it and made the transfer 2 weeks later

Long hours lots of driving

And since Nov 2021

Bletcherstonerson1 karma

What’s your favorite movie, or book?

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

Movie: avengers or the Harry potter series

Book: anyting James Patterson

alonghardlook1 karma

How often do you yell "bring out your dead" like in Monty Python?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Never, but I think it 😂

sadtempeh1 karma

What's the salary and hours like?

Icy-Temperature-89043 karma

Base salary is 25k based on 8 hour days


Never happens .. ever

Typically 12 -16 hour days and we get a hell of overtime for it

So base would be 1500 per Month

But I average 2500 per month cause of overtime

lazywyvern1 karma

Ever have a body sit up on ya???

Icy-Temperature-89042 karma

No but sometimes they are sat up and we collect them as they are

South-Lobster4480-1 karma

My only question is why? What would drive someone to decide to make that choice for an occupation.

Icy-Temperature-89045 karma

It was by chance I worked on the office doing the prepaid plans

And then I went out with a driver to cover and I loved it