What is a direct cremation?
A direct cremation is a funeral with no service, no mourners attend. The deceased is taken through the chapel and placed on the catafalque, just like an attended funeral. Direct cremation is cheaper than a regular funeral. Ashes can be returned to the family once the cremation is complete.
Why choose a direct cremation?
A direct cremation is cheaper than a funeral with a service as many of the costs are avoided. There’s no need to hire the chapel, pay for a celebrant, flowers or limousines. Bearers are not required as typically a wheeled bier is used to move the coffin. During recent social distancing restrictions, all funerals have been using wheeled bier trolleys to transport the deceased to the chapel.
Cost is an obvious factor. But it would be wrong to think that direct cremation is only chosen by people who can’t afford a traditional funeral. Many of the families we perform funerals for have simply decided against laying out thousands of pounds for a 30 minute chapel service.
The cheapest direct cremation starts at £1,195, visit our prices page to see more details for your location.
Personal meaning is another reason people choose an unattended funeral. A traditional funeral with sombre undertakers in top hats and black overcoats can be hard to relate to. The thought of a hearse driving slowly to the crematorium with their loved one’s coffin on view isn’t something that appeals to them.
Separating the cremation from the memorial provides an opportunity to make a celebration of life more personal. Being able to say goodbye to the one you’ve lost in a way that feels more authentic and better reflects how your loved one lived can make the celebration of life extra special.
One of the early direct cremations we performed was for a family who held a celebration of life with live music, food and family photographs. Others opt for a more intimate family gathering, perhaps just immediate family and close friends.
There are so many ways to hold a fitting memorial, our post on ways to scatter ashes has a lot of really interesting ideas, many of which were even new to us.
Recent lockdown restrictions
Recently we performed a direct cremation during the lockdown restrictions and the family members (who were located around the country) played some personally meaningful music or sat in quiet reflection in the privacy of their own homes at the same time the cremation took place.
Recent social distancing rules have significantly reduced the number of mourners that can attend funeral services. It is thought that this will increase the number of people choosing direct cremation or low cost funeral services.
When someone dies abroad it can be far cheaper to have a direct cremation performed abroad and the ashes returned rather than pay for the deceased to be transported home.
Direct cremation isn’t right for everyone
In the vast majority of cases families choosing direct cremation have decided on a no-fuss option and are confident that it’s the right choice for them. But over the years we’ve had a couple of instances where it didn’t feel appropriate for our customers.
In both the cases it was the deceased who had decided upon a no-fuss funeral. But it’s not always something that sits well with all family members and respecting a loved one’s wishes can sometimes conflict with what feels right for those left behind.
After much discussion between family members they decided to have a small intimate family service at the crematorium.
We offer cremations with a service from just £1,718.
Attended direct cremation
An attended direct cremation enables a small number of mourners to spend around 10 minutes with their loved one in the chapel. It is different from a direct cremation which permits no mourners to attend. It is a relatively new option and is not offered by all crematoria.
Before attended direct cremations were being offered we sometimes were asked by family members if it would be okay to be present and watch from a distance as we took their loved one into the chapel for what was booked as a direct cremation.
It looks as though some crematoria (not all offer attended direct cremations as an option) have recognised that some families are caught between not wanting a full service, but at the same time don’t feel a direct cremation is right for them either.
How much does an attended direct cremation cost?
An attended direct cremation does cost more than a direct cremation. If we look at Dignity owned crematoria their prices for a direct cremation is £499 and for an attended direct it’s £675. This research was based on Crematoria in Leeds, Rotherham and Willerby. Prices correct for 2020/21 and may vary at different locations.
How many people can attend an attended direct cremation?
Typically very few people attend, usually immediate family and maybe very close friends. Actual numbers permitted will be dictated by the crematorium.
Can we have more time?
In our experience time is strictly limited to the agreed period. This is because direct cremation slots assigned to funeral directors are around 15 minutes. Attended direct cremations really are designed as a way to say your last goodbyes, if more time is required then booking a full service may be more appropriate.
Is a direct cremation the same as a simple cremation?
Some companies use the terms synonymously others do not, so that’s something to watch for. For us a simple cremation is an affordable funeral with a service. There is no hearse or expensive limousines, no pallbearers and no extravagant coffin. We even provide our own celebrant service free of charge.
What does a direct cremation include?
In terms of paperwork arranging a direct cremation is very similar to a traditional funeral. All the required documentation remains the same. The death has to be registered and the various cremation forms must be completed.
We can meet with you to discuss your requirements or alternatively we can arrange things over the telephone. We will collect your loved one from their current resting place and bring them into our care. The cremation will be scheduled and the date will be confirmed with you. Crematorium and doctor’s fees will be paid on your behalf. Ashes can be scattered or returned to you.
Is a coffin used for direct cremation?
A coffin is used for all our funerals – attended or not. The coffin we use is the same type that is used for our simple cremations (basic funeral with a service). Types of coffin available include wood, wicker and cardboard. This enables safe, hygienic and dignified handling of the deceased.
Choosing a direct cremation company
There are companies that offer direct cremation nationally and even specialize in unattended funerals. Please make sure that you are clear about what is included in the prices you are quoted and try to compare at least three companies. We have a post that highlights some of the unexpected costs people encounter when choosing a low cost funeral company.
Direct cremation funeral plans
With the increase in popularity of direct cremation, funeral plans catering specifically to them have also come on to the market. At Simple Cremations we do not sell funeral plans, you can read more about this in our Simple Cremations Funeral Plans post.
We would advise that you do your research and explore fully what any funeral plan covers. Check out our Start Your Search For A Funeral Plan post which provides information on a really useful tool that could save you time and money.
Direct cremation in the UK is increasingly popular and it’s chosen for a variety of reasons. Costs are kept low and it can be a way to avoid unnecessary financial burdens. Having a more personal and relevant celebration of life separate from the cremation is preferable and convenient for many.
With recent lockdown restrictions, strict limits on numbers attending funerals, and uncertainty regarding health are raising questions as to whether a traditional funeral service is the right choice at the present time.
But this choice is not right for everyone and many still prefer to have an attended service to pay their last respects. There are low cost funeral companies offering low cost funerals with a service too. Some crematoria have also started offering attended direct cremations offering close family the opportunity to say their last goodbyes.
After reading this post many people visit Start Your Search For A Funeral Plan