What Is Direct Cremation?

Everything you need to know about Direct Cremation


Cremation has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years. One option that has gained attention in particular, is direct cremation. Direct cremation is a simple and cost-effective alternative to traditional funerals and burial. In this blog, we'll explore: 

  • What is Direct Cremation? 

  • What Are The Differences Between A Traditional Funeral And Direct Cremation? 

  • How Does A Direct Cremation Work? 

  • Benefits Of Direct Cremation 

  • Is A Direct Cremation Right For Me? 

What is Direct Cremation? 

Direct cremation is a different approach to the end-of-life process. The body is cremated soon after death, it is not embalmed and there is typically no visitation or viewing of the body.  direct cremation does not usually include a service, so after the cremation has happened, the ashes are returned to the family. This is a modern alternative to the traditional way of doing things, which focuses the cremation on the physical act of cremating the remains with no formal ceremony, or visitation of the deceased in a chapel of rest to accompany it. 


What Are The Differences Between A Traditional Funeral And Direct Cremation? 

Direct cremation might lack some of the ceremonial aspects of a traditional funeral, but this does not mean that the deceased is treated any differently. They will still be treated with the utmost respect by everyone involved with their cremation. 

However, there are other differences:  the coffin is usually a more simple and practical coffin.  It will not be on display like at a funeral, or at visitation in a Chapel of Rest, which is also not usually part of this kind of cremation.  

Another difference is timings. In a funeral service, the cremation will take place after the ceremony has finished and the timings of the ceremony itself will be agreed with the family, funeral director, and crematorium. In a direct cremation, the timings will be determined by the crematorium as no family or friends will be in attendance. Different timings can be accommodated, but it would cost more. 


How Does A Direct Cremation Work? 

The deceased will be collected, prepared for cremation and then cared for, until the date of the cremation itself. Unlike funerals, there is no need for embalming or any other preparations beyond removing any medical devices and jewellery that need to be returned to the family. It is important to note that the body is usually placed in a simple container for transportation. 

The family are not normally advised of the date the cremation will be taking place unless it has been arranged for them to be in attendance. 90% of direct cremations are unattended. 

The ashes will be given to the family afterwards or scattered in the garden of remembrance, depending on the wishes of the deceased and their family. Some providers charge extra for the return of the ashes. In this arrangement, it is up to the loved ones to decide how best to celebrate the deceased’s life. 


Benefits Of Direct Cremation 

1. Cost-Effective 

One of the primary advantages of direct cremation is its affordability. It eliminates the expenses associated with traditional funerals, such as embalming, caskets, and elaborate funeral services. 


2. Simplicity 

Direct cremation is a straightforward process, as it does not involve a funeral service. Allowing families to focus on their grief and personal remembrance rather than the logistics of a traditional funeral. It allows families to make memorial or farewell arrangements at their own pace. 


3. Flexibility 

With direct cremation, families have more flexibility in planning memorial services. They can choose when and where to hold a service, whether it's a simple family gathering, a celebration of life, or scattering the ashes in a meaningful location. You can check our blog on creative ways to scatter ashes here.


4. Environmental Considerations 

Direct cremation is considered more environmentally friendly than a traditional burial for several reasons: 

  • No embalming chemicals required, 

  • No use of land for burial plots, helping to conserve natural areas. 

  • Typically, a simple container for cremation is used, and there is no need for headstone which further reduces the environmental footprint of the end-of-life service, .  

  • Direct cremation produces fewer greenhouse gases than traditional burial, as it generally has a lower carbon footprint compared to the ongoing maintenance of cemeteries. 


5. Personalisation 

Unlike a traditional funeral, where details are often guided by long-standing traditions, direct cremation allows for considerable creativity. Families can tailor the memorial experience to reflect the individual's life, passions, and preferences in various ways. Here are a few ideas on how to create a personalised farewell: 

  • Arranging a memorial service apart from the cremation, at a time/place meaningful to the deceased, not forced by the timing of when they passed,  

  • Planning a scattering ceremony to say goodbye 

  • Including a band, readings, and dancing into the memorial service in a less traditional venue, 

  • Playing visuals tributes loved ones have made, from videos and to photo walls 

Many of the 1000s of funeral directors on The Farewell Guide can support your wishes for a direct Cremation, or variation of this, when planning your funeral. Start your plan today. 


Is A Direct Cremation Right For Me? 

Which type of cremation is right for you depends on your own circumstances. There is no doubt that it is a cheaper option and that might be the main appeal for some people if finances are a potential issue. And despite the reduced costs, it is no less dignified or respectful than a funeral service, just one that comes without a hearse, visitation option, or an expensive coffin. 

Best of all, it’s an option that leaves open so many more choices for the deceased’s loved ones in how they then choose to remember and celebrate the life of their loved one. Some key points to remember when choosing a direct cremation: 

  • Direct cremation eliminates the possibility of having traditional viewings or visitations 

  • Families should be aware of religious and cultural beliefs 

  • Legal requirements  

  • Emotional impact - consider the emotional needs of the family and whether some may find comfort in the rituals and ceremonies associated with traditional funerals. 

We hope you found this article informative and helpful. 

We know how difficult grief and the mourning period can be. We're here to support you every step of the way. 


Here are some more articles we think you'll find interesting: 

Advice on how to choose between burial and cremation

Talking about death - how to get started