Direct cremation vs traditional funeral: we help you decide


Feb 13, 2018
direct cremation

It is no longer thought to be macabre to consider how you want to be laid to rest. Indeed, with an increasing number of options these days not only to plan the event but also to pay for it in advance, your forethought might save your friends and relations a lot of soul-searching and agonised decision-making - not to mention your saving them from having to foot the bill too.

Direct cremation or traditional funeral?

For anyone with the picture in mind of a traditional, frock-suited, formal funeral, direct cremation may seem anathema.

There is certainly no pomp and ceremony with a direct funeral – which might take the form of direct cremation or direct burial. Instead, the cremation or burial takes place without any ceremony or funeral service (or one that might be reserved for a later date).

With a direct funeral, the body is collected from the place of death and, in a simple coffin, taken straight to the cremation or burial site – no fuss, no ceremony, no family, friends or other mourners typically in attendance.

It is the kind of departure chosen by many people and made the more socially-acceptable, perhaps, by it being the choice of a number of the rich and famous. As the Telegraph newspaper reported on the 20th of August 2017, for example, pop legend David Bowie famously insisted on “going without any fuss” or fanfare.

The theme was also taken up in a report by the Guardian newspaper on the 8th of January 2018. The article pointed to a growing awareness not only of simple, direct funerals (where the provider supplies little more than a coffin and transport of the body) but of ecologically and environmentally friendly ways of disposing of a relative’s final remains.

An article in The Gazette has also mentioned that some people may choose a direct funeral or direct cremation as a way of performing final rites without the traditional religious overtones or when far-flung members of the deceased’s family live many miles away and are likely to find it difficult to attend any funeral service.

Although direct funerals currently account for only an estimated 5% of all cremations and burials in the UK, perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for making such a choice is one of cost – typically, a direct funeral is a low-cost funeral.

This is likely to be of no small concern when the total average cost of dying in the UK – the charges made by a funeral director, plus the many additional costs associated with a traditional funeral – has topped £4,000, according to insurer’s Sun Life’s annual Cost of Dying Report, published on the 12th of September 2017.

At a likely cost of between just £1,100 and £2,000, direct cremation might save you almost £3,000 at today’s prices. Indeed, if you arranged a prepaid direct cremation plan, you may make still further savings by paying at today’s prices, rather than those likely to have been subject to inflation when the time eventually comes for the cremation to take place.

The traditional funeral

The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) describes the wide range of services typically and traditionally offered by your local firm of funeral directors.

These include:

  • collection of the body and its transport to the funeral home;
  • preparing and laying out the body for viewings;
  • placing death notices in the local or national newspapers and online;
  • arranging for your choice of coffin and a hearse to transport the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery; and,
  • helping to arrange the funeral service of your choice.

Also, the traditional funeral may also involve the cost of floral tributes, additional limousines for mourners, catering arrangements for a wake or reception, and the placing of a memorial stone.

With so many elements comprising the traditional, formal funeral arrangements, it may be easy to see how that sum for the total cost of dying has reached more than £4,000.

Just as with a direct funeral, however, it is also possible to arrange a prepaid funeral plan for a more formal, traditional ceremony. Once again, by paying at today’s prices, for a guarantee of the level of funeral director’s services you choose, it is possible to avoid the almost certain inflation in prices likely to have taken place by the time the funeral takes place.

We help you decide

Your choice between direct cremation or the full pomp, ceremony and formality of a traditional funeral is, of course, primarily a matter of personal taste and preference.

You might be guided by long-held beliefs about the way respects may be paid or more concerned about environmental issues and simplicity, without the necessity for any religious message – or indeed attendance by family and friends as mourners.

But here at Over50Choices, we may help you make those critical decisions by offering the full range of services, from direct cremation to the most traditional of full-blown funerals, and give you the option of paying for your chosen arrangements in advance.

Direct Cremations

Not for everyone, but they could be for you


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