Sharing Views on How we Commemorate a Death

How we choose to commemorate our own passing or the death of a loved one is a very sensitive time for all of us. Today many people are seeking a more environmentally friendly way. A series of consultations has been launched by the Scottish Government on funeral arrangements, including water burials.

Water burials (alkaline hydrolysis) involves the disposal of human remains using hot water with the addition of potassium hydroxide, or sodium hydroxide, or a mix of both. The consultation sets out the safeguards which would be put in place to ensure alkaline hydrolysis would be subject to the same high standards as burial and cremation.

James Morris, National Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) Scotland President said:

“Regulation of the Scottish funeral sector will maintain and ensure the high standards of funeral service, care of the deceased and delivery to the tens of thousands of families in need of a funeral director each year. 

“SAIF Scotland looks forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government on what has been an open and consultative process and has thoughtfully addressed concerns shared by both the Government and the funeral sector.“

There are 4 consultations:

  1. Management of burial grounds, application for burial, exhumation, private burial and restoration of lairs: regulation in Scotland consultation.
  2.  Statutory inspection of burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors consultation
  3.  Funeral director licensing scheme for Scotland consultation.
  4.  Regulation of alkaline hydrolysis (‘water cremation’) in Scotland consultation

All four consultations close on 17 Nov 2023.

If enough people are interested there will be public engagements to discuss the issues around the consultations. Anyone interested in taking part in those should email

Public Health Minister in the Scottish Government Jenni Minto said:

Head and shoulders shot of Jenni Minto

“Bereavement can be emotionally overwhelming and being able to engage with the practical issues and funeral arrangements can be very difficult.

“However, it is something everyone is likely to experience at some stage in their life, whether it’s the death of a family member, a loved one, or a friend.

“Having confidence in the care and dignity given to our loved ones, along with the compassionate and professional treatment of those bereaved, can go some way to alleviating that distress. The rare instances where this does not happen satisfactorily can have long-standing impacts on people.

“This is why we need to ensure we get the right policy and legal frameworks in place and I urge anyone with views on the issues in these consultations to take the time to respond.”

a group of lilies most in full bloom and on the petal of one a very tiny fly
Image credit Rosie Hopkins

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