Are you happy? Spencer Lee, senior crematorium technician

My nan and grandad are interred here, and my dad worked here for over 40 years. He'd never show me where the cremation takes place, but he was very proud when I started here. Now I talk to my dad about it, but I don't go into details with my mum or partner. My daughter has an idea that this is where people are laid to rest.

Discussing it was such a taboo. It used to be that the priest would say, sing this, read that part of the Bible. But people put their foot down. Now, services might include DVDs or Powerpoint presentations. When I started, most people were happy with organ music on tape, but I can't think of a day that goes by when we don't hear My Way by Frank Sinatra or Wind Beneath My Wings. Or I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles for a deceased West Ham fan. One woman had a floral tribute in the shape of a cigarette - she'd smoked 120 a day and still made it to 102. Smiling can be a release, just like crying.

We average 12 cremations a day, down from 28-plus thanks to the falling death rate. What is most sad is when no one shows up. We have to sit in the back just so the celebrant has someone to speak to. The service is a last chance to get rid of differences, make amends, and think, 'You're still Mum, regardless of what you did.' It's important to be there for the last act.

Behind the scenes we keep the conversation as light as possible - you've got to be cheerful - but it's respectful. We can't look sad. People might think we're just cold. It's hardest at children's funerals, but we can't be at the back with tissues, no matter how much it affects us.

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