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What is Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation is when the deceased is taken straight to the crematorium without a funeral ceremony at that time. Effectively the body of the deceased is taken away then brought back to you as ashes.

Why would you choose a direct cremation?

Increasing numbers of people are turning to direct cremation or burial as alternatives to a conventional funeral for various reasons:

  • People do not feel they need to have a formal, public, ceremonial funeral at which the body of the person who has died is present. The traditional crematorium service can often seem impersonal and stressful for many.

  • Provides the opportunity to say farewell to someone who has died in your own time, and in a way they find more personal, more fitting and more satisfying. The ashes interment and service can take place weeks, months or years after someone has passed.

  • People who cannot afford a traditional funeral. Because of its simplicity, direct cremation or burial is the cheapest way of disposing of the deceased.

Famous choices

In many cases however cost is not the main factor, John Lennon and David Bowie both chose this type of service. Like Lennon, Bowie had a direct cremation with no formal funeral service. Bowie arranged a direct cremation before his death because – in his words – he wanted to 'go without any fuss'.

What differences would I notice with a direct cremation?

After the death of a family member the direct cremation route can remove the immediate stress of organising a funeral and arranging a burial.

  • You don’t go to visit the deceased in the funeral home

  • You don’t choose the day and time of the cremation

  • There is no hearse, no procession, no service at the crematorium

  • The body goes straight off to be cremated without ceremony and without anyone else there

What's included with a direct cremation?

This varies depending on the undertaker used but usually includes-

  • Collection of the deceased

  • The funeral director’s time and overheads

  • Immediate storage of the deceased

  • Removal of pacemaker, prosthetic etc if necessary

  • Simple coffin

  • Transport to the crematorium

  • Crematorium fee

  • Return of the ashes to you

If a cremation you will also be required to pay Doctor’s fees, unless the deceased was seen by the Coroner when there is no fee.

The cremation itself usually takes place in an early morning slot which wouldn't be suitable for an attended cremation.

What about saying goodbye?

By separating the actual cremation from the farewell, it means the family can organise a more personal memorial service, ash scattering or celebration of the deceased’s life in their own time.

Direct cremation does not stop you from having a farewell ceremony – a funeral – if you wish, after the event. If you choose direct cremation you can hold a memorial event of your own devising, with if you wish, the ashes present. The ceremony may conclude with the scattering of ashes perhaps as the sun sets or rises at a favourite place. Whichever you choose you can have a memorial service whenever you feel the time is right.

How many people choose direct cremation?

Direct cremation/burial is still thought of as unconventional, with approximately 7% opting for this type of service. If you choose it, it may well raise an eyebrow here and there. Alternatively many people are likely to say “I wish I’d thought of that”.

Simplicity, the recently launched direct cremation arm of funeral giant Dignity, says it saw a 400% increase in people buying direct cremations in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, specialist firm Pure Cremation has reported a tenfold increase in sales, and says that as the middle classes embrace the concept, “it will become more mainstream”.

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