Direct Cremation

Cremation currently accounts for approximately 75% of funerals in the United Kingdom. Around 24% of these are direct cremations. This figure has risen significantly over the last couple of years with the figure being only 3% prior to the Covid pandemic. *

What Is Direct Cremation?

Sometimes known as a basic cremation, cremation without ceremony, or simple cremation a direct cremation takes place without a ceremony, or anyone present to say goodbye or celebrate the life of the person at that moment as happens with a traditional cremation.

Put simply direct cremation is the ‘click and collect’ version of a funeral.

You click or call, and the body of your person is collected and disposed of by cremating, it really is as basic and simple as that.  Following cremation, the cremated remains or ashes are returned to the family or friend of the person who has died.

With direct cremation the family or friend of the person who has died is not involved in any of the arrangements, no choice of coffin, they cannot view the body and the company dealing with the cremation decides the date and time of the funeral. There is no hearse to transport the body, no flowers, and no ceremony.

Why Do People Choose Direct Cremation?

One reason is the cost saving, because of its simplicity, direct cremation is the cheapest way of disposing of someone who has died.  A direct cremation costs around 30% of the cost of a ‘traditional’ funeral.

Some specify this is what they want before they die, they don’t want any fuss, or leave their family or friends with the stress of having to arrange a funeral. Others choose this option as they wish to break away completely from any form of traditional funeral.

Funerals Are Not To Benefit The Dead, But The Living

Since the beginning of time all cultures have carried out their own rituals to acknowledge and honour their dead, it was important that they had respectfully laid them to rest or sent them on their way onto the next part of their spiritual journey or returned them to nature. There is a need for ceremony to help with the grieving process. 

A funeral ceremony has several benefits, the first stage of grief is denial, with people feeling shocked or numb, sometimes carrying on as though nothing has happened.  A funeral helps acknowledge that the death has occurred and can help counter some of the feelings of shock and numbness.

As humans we grieve, and that grief needs to come out, it is essential to our wellbeing.  A funeral ceremony provides us with the opportunity and a safe space to do so, with others around who are also grieving whilst giving and receiving support from all those who have gathered at the ceremony.  It is the time to talk, to support each other, to reminisce and tell stories, to pay respect, to let you know that they care about you.  Having this kind of support is vital. Sometimes it is an opportunity to reconnect with family members or friends we have lost contact with. It has also been known to connect people together, united by grief, supporting each other which has led to a relationship forming. An example of the phrase ‘the circle of life’.

In addition to supporting the living a funeral ceremony honours the person who has died by giving their family, friends, everyone they have spent time with and created memories with the opportunity to gather and reflect on and celebrate their life in a way that is right for them, before saying a final goodbye to them. The funeral ceremony is for the benefit of everyone who knew, loved, and was connected to that person, not for the person who has died. When someone dies, the funeral is not for them, it’s about them.

Everyone Needs An Opportunity To Say Goodbye

For some direct cremation is exactly what they want and suits their needs, but it isn’t for everyone. When requesting a direct cremation people often think of the family members or people who will be left to deal with the arrangements, no doubt wanting to make it easier for them both financially and with no fuss.  It is natural to want to honour the wishes of the person who has died but the reality is a direct cremation and not having a ceremony can make things more difficult for those who are grieving. It is therefore also important to take into consideration the needs of family members and friends, they are the ones who need to grieve and say goodbye.

There are alternatives to the ‘traditional’ funeral, if a direct cremation does take place, you may consider having some form of farewell ceremony, a gathering, a tribute, or a send-off.

There are several options whereby you can honour the wishes of the person who has died while also taking care of your own needs. Talk to us about what is possible, we can help combine the request of the person who has died with your own wishes.

Funerals and Celebrations of Life Help us to Grieve

A funeral or a celebration of life gives closure. It is a time to say goodbye. We need to say our goodbyes, we need to grieve, we need to be with people to give and receive support to help us cope.

We can underestimate just how much value a funeral can be to us. Everyone needs an opportunity to say goodbye, even in the simplest form.

Many who have adhered to the decision of their person to have a direct cremation have stated they felt denied an opportunity to say goodbye. We may think a direct cremation prevents our family and friends having to go through the pain of a funeral, but for some this is needed as it removes this essential opportunity enabling them to grief rather than to feel denied closure.

*Source Sunlife (2022) Cost of Dying Report

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