Although the majority of families still stick to tradition when it comes to funerals, an increasing number of people across the UK are now considering other options and looking for alternatives to a funeral service.
Whether it’s to save money on the ever escalating funeral costs or to have a more stripped back simple affair, the tide is changing for funeral services, which I for one am extremely happy to see.
As I have already hinted at, cost plays a major part as average funeral costs have been rising way above the rate of inflation for more than a decade and currently exceed £4,000. Having said that, the majority of customers we speak to that are looking for alternative funeral services, do so because they want their family to avoid the upset of the funeral service; preferring them to ‘celebrate the life’ rather than ‘mourn the death’.
So if you are looking for something a little different, the following options may well help.
The stripped back simple cremation
Instead of the full traditional funeral service held at the crematorium, some people across the UK are now opting for a more informal family affair, where only a hand full of relatives or close friends attend the committal.
Rather than using a minister or celebrant to conduct proceedings and speak about the person that has died, the family organise everything, taking time to share memories, listen to music or read poems, leading to a far more intimate experience.
The unattended direct cremation
Going one stage further, direct cremation is available for those who want a cremation without a funeral service of any form; basically the cremation process but with no family members or friends in attendance.
Families choosing this option like the freedom and flexibility it offers, allowing them to say good bye their own way, at a time and place that is more convenient to everyone and most importantly in a more relaxing environment than a crematorium or chapel.
Be it a family gathering when scattering the ashes or a meal at a favourite restaurant, separating the cremation from the funeral service gives families options to do what they want, when they want, how they want.
The woodland burial
Not only for the eco warriors out there, a green or woodland burial is not just an environmentally friendly option, it can also make the burial process a slightly easier affair.
Instead of the sombre service at the cemetery of church graveyard, woodland burial sites, be it woodland or meadow tend to be prettier, more relaxing and natural places, which can be a little more uplifting for those attending the funeral or visiting the burial site at a later date, perhaps on special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays.
You can even choose your woodland burial plot in advance so you can be sure the place you are laid to rest is a beautiful and peaceful one.
The DIY funeral
If you are wanting to keep an eye on costs or prefer to make all of the funeral arrangements yourself, you could organise a DIY funeral. This will take some thinking about as it’s not just about the send off. You will also need to consider care of the person that has died until the funeral takes place, buying a coffin or shroud, booking the crematorium and completing all the relevant paperwork and transportation on the day of the cremation.
You can find more help and advice on the Natural Death Centre website but the main thing with a DIY funeral is being prepared so you know exactly what needs to be done in advance.
The Personal Touch
Of course instead of looking for alternatives to a funeral service such as a direct cremation or DIY funeral, you could just make tweaks to the service so it is more meaningful and personal.
For example there are a wide range of coffins available these days. From wicker to bamboo, wool to cardboard, the options are endless and you can make them more personal by adding your own touches like photos or pictures.
Transportation to the crematorium or church doesn’t have to be by hearse or horse drawn carriage either; these day’s motorbikes and sidecars, tractors, VW camper vans and even double decker buses can be an alternative option.
And as for the service, it doesn’t have to be religious or conducted by a minister. You would be surprised by the number of people we speak to who are looking for alternatives to a funeral or something a bit different solely because they don’t want a ‘traditional religious service’.
The type of funeral service you have at a crematorium is completely up to you. There doesn’t have to be any religious content if you don’t want there to be and the service can be held by a celebrant or even a family member if you prefer.
The great thing is that we now have options; families feel free to look for alternative funeral services without fear of going against custom or tradition. After all a direct cremation can still be as dignified and respectful as a traditional funeral; just perhaps not so upsetting and possibly a little more personal, depending on what the family prefers to do.