Demonstrating the use of alternative ways of doing ceremony which. might work alongside a Direct Cremation a white tree with gold metallic lights and lots of seeded paper with 'what is a good funeral' written on them hanging from the tree. it demonstrates the importance of ceremonial ritual outside of 'the body', and the lowering of the coffin or the closing of the curtain.

Direct cremation is a type of cremation service that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and other countries. This is especially the case since Covid 19 . During the worst of the lockdowns and restrictions people could not have well attended funerals. They often couldn’t attend through illness or isolation. It also wasn’t possible or advisable to store that volume of people in mortuaries. Therefore it became common place and necessary to find expedient ways to dispose of people’ bodies after death. Funerals basically stopped happening for a while. Click here to read a Guardian article on this topic

a textured brown candle lit for a funeral ceremony. these are really popular at memorials for Direct Cremations

Direct Cremation had long been a little-known option often for people with few next of kin or with very low budgets. Covid 19 brought it into the mainstream and like many other lockdown discoveries it became a permanent fixture in our culture brought about by the huge Pandemic-related shift in societal norms.

Unlike traditional cremation services, which typically involve a funeral or memorial service followed by cremation, direct cremation involves the immediate cremation of the deceased without any accompanying ceremony or viewing.

In this blog, I will explore the benefits and drawbacks of direct cremation and what it entails. Because I am a Funeral Celebrant and my passion is for Ceremony, I will then suggest ways in which we can make Direct Cremation helpful and healing as opposed to simply logistical. Click here to learn more about my ceremonies for Direct Cremation:

What is Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation is a type of cremation service that does not involve any funeral or memorial service. Instead, the deceased is taken directly from the place of death to the cremation facility and cremated immediately. This means that there is no viewing, visitation, or any type of formal farewell. The cremated remains are typically returned to the family in an urn, and the family can then decide what to do with the remains, such as scattering them or burying them in a cemetery.

Benefits of Direct Cremation and No-fuss funerals

photo of a young woman in sepia, a photo of a woman who has died and for whom there is a Direct Cremation ceremonyl there are labels with thoughts and prayers
An image from a ceremony I did for a woman who died during the covid lockdowns who had a Direct Cremation

One of the main benefits of Direct Cremation is that it is often less expensive than traditional funeral services. Traditional funeral ceremonies can be expensive, with costs including the coffin, funeral home services, transportation, and burial fees. Direct cremation eliminates many of these costs, making it a more affordable option for families who want to keep expenses to a minimum. However, I would urge you to think about priorities and investment. Paying for a funeral is not ‘a waste of money’, it serves an important purpose and function and is an investment in your emotional health long term. It is also the last gift you can give to your person. If you want to go all out for that person, do so.

a black and white photo of a nepalese singing bowl on a pebble beach in Brighton. it symbolises the way in which we can incorporate spirituality into a ceremony for a Direct Cremation
A singing bowl for contemplation. I use this for my Celebrant led Ceremonies where requested

Direct cremation also allows families to plan a memorial or celebration of life service at a later time, when it is more convenient for everyone. This can be especially helpful for families who have members who live far away or who cannot travel to attend a funeral service. By holding a ceremony at a later time, people can come together to tell their stories, eat, drink, cry and hug together. Because it is not ‘time specific’ they can spend time processing their grief and preparing to remember and honour their loved one without the time constraints and expense of a traditional funeral service.

Issues with no-fuss funerals

There are many issues with Direct Cremation, a central concern for me is of emotional wellbeing. One of the main drawbacks of direct cremation is that it does not allow for a formal farewell or viewing. Some people may find it difficult to say goodbye to their person without a formal ceremony or viewing, and this can make the grieving process more difficult. Click here for information from CRUSE bereavement charity about grief and loss

However, some families may choose to have a private viewing before the cremation, which can provide a sense of closure and allow for a formal farewell. This is where my Celebrant Services come in and why I am so passionate about raising awareness around the importance of funeral ceremonies. Celebrants do not just arrive on the scene on the day and talk. Most of our work is done in the preparing stage, it is much more about emotional support than most people realise.

A piece of paper with 'what is a good funeral' written on it. there are 4 points with heart shapes. the first reads honest, the second reads togetherness, the third reads witnessing and the fourth honouring and revering life. It illustrates the importance of funeral ceremonies

Another drawback of direct cremation is that it may not provide a sense of finality as a traditional funeral service. Many people will tell me that it ‘just doesn’t feel finished’, or that they ‘just can’t believe it’. For some people, attending a funeral ceremony or memorial service can be an important part of the grieving process, allowing them to say goodbye and receive support from family and friends. those who need it.

Ceremonies for Direct Cremations and No-fuss funerals

Direct cremation is a simple and cost-effective option for people who need to keep expenses to a minimum. It sometimes is enough for people, but i would argue that it is always better to incorporate some level of ritual and ceremonial process. As a Celebrant offering funeral services I am obviously convinced of the importance of this. click here to learn more about the importance of ritual in grieving loss.

4 candles on a bronze circular tray. on a white table. they symbolise ceremony. There is a larger pillar candle in turquoise and two square glass block candle t light holders in purple. there is another candle holder which is a gold orb

Planning ceremonies is very healing, it encourages us to look at photo albums, exchange stories and provides an imperative for people to sit with their grief in company or in privacy. It gives a vehicle for grief, something towards which to direct energy and anxiety. It functions to enable process. The great thing about Direct Cremation is that it allows families to plan a funeral ceremony at a later time, when it is more convenient for everyone. Ultimately, the decision to choose direct cremation or a traditional funeral service will depend on personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary constraints. For me in my role as a Funeral Celebrant the decision should always begin with the following question: “what do i need to enable me to heal effectively, how can I remain emotionally healthy, how can this support me in the grieving process?”

Final Thoughts on Direct Cremation

an example of a note written at a ceremony for a Direct Cremation. it reads 'what makes a good funeral?" Real, Personalised, To help those affected by the death

I am neither an advocate for or an opposer of Direct Cremation. What I am passionate about is encouraging people to find their own meaningful way of addressing their experience of grief. I am also convinced of the need for ceremonial input, not state funeral pomp, or alienating traditions, but the right thing for you, the person left behind. If you had to deal with a bereavement during Covid and feel that it is ‘unfinished’ or that you are struggling to recover it might be that you would benefit from creating a ceremony at this point in time. It is never too late to create a ceremony for someone you love. I will always be here when you need me.