What Is A Direct Cremation?

Two rose flowers laying in front of two light candles

Although it’s not the cheeriest notion, many of us have given at least some thought to what we’d like to happen to us after we die. There was a time when we wouldn’t have had much say in the matter, but today there are decisions to make - spiritual or secular, open or closed casket, burial or cremation? Traditional burials aren’t our only option anymore, and for some, they’re an option that no longer makes sense. For those who need a more affordable or even a more straightforward solution, direct cremation presents an increasingly popular alternative.

What exactly is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is exactly what it sounds like - a cremation service without the bells and whistles. Traditional funerals are coordinated by a funeral director, who guides the bereaved through the process, prepares the body of the deceased, and oversees the memorial and burial (or cremation) services.

At a direct cremation, there’s usually no family or loved ones in attendance. ‘Direct’ means the procedure only involves the cremation of the body and the return of the ashes to a next of kin or another named person - there’s no preservation or ceremony beforehand, and no memorial afterwards unless the bereaved decide to host a private gathering themselves.

The ins and outs of a direct cremation service will depend on each provider, but generally, the service includes the collection of the body, arrangement of the relevant medical paperwork, providing a coffin, burning the remains in private, and either returning the ashes to a loved one or laying the deceased to rest in a memorial garden.

Who might choose a direct cremation?

Where are many reasons why someone might choose a direct cremation. The simplicity of the service means that it can be a much more affordable alternative for those concerned about paying for a funeral or leaving their loved ones with expenses they can’t manage.

It’s also an option for people who might not have a family to organise their funeral, or perhaps worry about their loved ones being put through the strain of planning and attending such an emotionally taxing affair.

What will happen to my ashes after a direct cremation? 

What’s done with your ashes will depend on any wishes you express before your passing, or on the wishes of someone you’ve nominated to receive your remains. Some people want their remains to be scattered in a place that brought them joy, and others like the idea of their ashes being used to grow a tree or other plant life. Sometimes, family members may choose to keep the ashes at home in an urn, or even use a small portion to create a memento such as a piece of jewellery so that they can always keep their loved one close by. If you’re undecided about how you want to be laid to rest, or don’t know who you want to receive your remains, many providers will offer to scatter your ashes in a dedicated garden of remembrance.

Can I still have a memorial service if I choose direct cremation?

There is usually no memorial or ceremony offered alongside direct cremation, but some families or even friends will choose to host their own gathering after receiving the ashes. Even though they won’t have the services of a funeral director, there’s nothing stopping your loved ones from paying tribute to you after your passing if that’s what you want.

Is a direct cremation really that much cheaper?

In our Funeral Costs Report 2023, we found that the average funeral could set British families back by up to £4,515. Depending on what kind of service you choose, it could cost as much as £13,622. A traditional funeral usually means paying a funeral director to oversee almost everything related to the burial and memorial. While it can be a relief to have that kind of moral support from a professional, a lot of families would struggle to find thousands of pounds at short notice.  

By contrast, a Direct Cremation could cost an average of £1700 according to Money Advice Service, which may mean very little financial pressure for your loved ones - especially if you have also put some funeral funds aside.

Helping you pay to be laid to rest

If you’re concerned about how your loved ones will be able to afford your funeral, burial, or cremation when you pass away, we’re here to help. At British Seniors, we have a lot of experience supporting people just like you and helping them to provide for their loved ones. If you would like to help support your family with funeral costs, we provide a range of Funeral Insurance Plans with various levels of cover.

If you’d like to learn more about the available cover, you can click here, or for a no obligations chat with our friendly, UK-based team, you can reach us for free on 0800 803 0052 and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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