What is a direct cremation?  



A direct cremation is a form of funeral that involves no service, no ceremony and typically has no mourners or attendees. It involves the deceased being moved directly from the mortuary, as soon as the death certificate is obtained, to the crematoria. In many cases, it will also mean no farewells or viewing of the deceased in a chapel of rest.  


Rising in popularity

The number of direct cremations taking place in the UK has increased in recent years. The increase was spurred on by the Covid pandemic and the restrictions that were placed on gatherings, with 85%* of people saying that the type of funeral they were able to have had been impacted. But direct cremations also provide a very cost-effective funeral option. With the average cost of a funeral believed to be over £4,000 and expected to be more than £5,000 by 2026* the lower cost of a direct cremation appeals. According to research* the average cost of a direct cremation is £1,647, over £2,000 less than a traditional funeral service with cremation.  


Focus on memorial

Because a direct cremation removes the ceremony and service from the funeral process, the focus moves to being one of memorialising the deceased, in the keeping or scattering of ashes and in the way someone’s life can be remembered and celebrated. For those wishing to celebrate a life and wanting to avoid what can be an emotionally charged funeral service, direct cremations offer the perfect way of separating out these two facets.  However it’s important to consider the role that the funeral service itself can play in the grief process, so this might better suit the needs of your family – as always choosing how to say goodbye to your loved one is a very individual decision.  


How is a direct cremation different?

Traditional cremations and direct cremations have very few differences, save for the lack of service and attendees. Most direct cremations take place first thing in the morning, before the usual services take place, and they will still take place at the main crematoria and follow the same format as a cremation with service. Each cremation is still individually managed, and the ashes will be returned to the family within a matter of days. It is at this point most families will choose to upgrade the ashes container for keeping or to choose a suitable ashes scattering tube, ready for their farewell.  


Whilst most direct cremations will not have any attendees or mourners, a coffin or bearer is still required. For some, even those seeking a cost-effective option, the choice of the coffin can be an important step in the grieving process, and the chance to personalise this important element of the funeral.  


*Sunlife Cost of Dying Report 2022 

Suggested reading

What happens to ashes after a cremation?
Do I need a coffin for a cremation?
Are willow coffins suitable for cremation?

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