If you’re looking for the simplest type of funeral service among all available options, direct cremation could be the answer. In the UK nearly 80% of all funerals are cremation based, and with a huge demand for a more cost-effective option, the low average cost of direct cremation makes this very appealing. Plus, there is a real change in what people want from a funeral with many more people opting for a celebration of life event, led by a civil celebrant, rather than a mournful traditional funeral service led by a vicar. Together these mean that families are driving real change in how our society approaches funerals.
Direct cremation costs in the UK
As families search for more relevant, affordable, and meaningful ways to say goodbye, there has been a growth in the number of people choosing a new funeral style – direct cremation. A direct cremation in the UK typically costs around £1000, but you should always check exactly what is included, as many providers don't offer fully-inclusive pricing. In recent years there has been a huge focus on the costs of funerals, particularly as they just seem to keep going up and up. Now, a traditional funeral costs an average of £4,184 (Source: Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2021), with some costing a lot more if you go for added extras. Today’s families are questioning the value of the traditional funeral format and resent paying thousands of pounds for a funeral style that isn’t right for them. Of course, they still want good care and good service, but it is only right that a fuss-free service costs less than something more formal.
What is the cheapest way to be cremated?
Few people know how much funerals actually cost, or what that cost typically covers, so it can be very hard to set a funeral budget or decide between cremation or burial. A family may have an idea of what they want to include in a farewell, but won’t be sure whether they can actually afford it. Standard cremation fees are less expensive than burial plots, with an average cost of £776 across the UK (range £400 - 1070 depending on venue), in 2020/21. Of course, you need to add the funeral director’s professional fees to this to get the full cost of a funeral. Direct cremation providers can deliver a complete service for around £1,000, which should include the following:
- cremation fees
- any doctors’ fees that apply for the completion of legally required certificates
- a simple coffin
- collection and care of the deceased
The best firms will also include the option to have the ashes hand delivered to you - human cremated remains are prohibited items for most courier services, and would you really want to treat your Mum’s remains as if they were just another package? While you don’t want to feel that you’re being “cheap” in the way that you honour your departed loved one, you still have to be mindful of what is realistically affordable. Remember to ask yourself how your loved one would react to the thought of leaving their family in debt for a funeral. This is especially important when you’ve earned less by taking time off to visit someone during their final weeks or even leaving a job completely to become a full time carer.
Direct cremation funerals and services explained
Direct cremation funeral services are one of the simplest ways to carry out a cremation – it usually takes place without a ceremony or any mourners in attendance at the crematorium itself. A direct cremation is the funeral industry term for a basic cremation with minimal cost outlay as there is no hearse or limousine and uses a very basic coffin. We call it Pure Cremation. It all means the same thing.
- A direct cremation involves no funeral service. There is no viewing of the deceased or farewell ceremony conducted. Usually, there are no mourners present, although you can be present for the committal if you wish.
- No embalming or other preparation is needed before a direct cremation funeral. (If the deceased had a pace-maker, we will need to remove it)
- No expensive coffin is required for direct cremation services. We use a simple solid pine eco-coffin.
- The cremation takes place at a facility convenient to the funeral provider and is unlikely to be local to you. You won’t be able to choose the time, location, or date of the cremation, although, at Pure Cremation, we always ask whether there are special dates such as birthdays or anniversaries you’d like us to avoid.
Who chooses direct cremation?
A direct cremation is usually a very positive choice. There are many reasons for opting for a direct cremation, and it can be a great choice for lots of circumstances such as:
- Allowing families of faith to focus on a separate Thanksgiving service rather than a funeral
- Reducing the trauma of the death by holding a Celebration of Life when everyone is emotionally ready
- Giving families time to recover from the end of life funeral events and care
- Giving busy and scattered families more time to arrange to gather together
- Giving families control over the farewell
- A respectful simple cremation where no relatives or friends are left to attend a funeral
- A low-cost alternative where financial considerations are important
- The opportunity to give financial support to a relative or a good cause
All of these advantages debunk some common misconceptions about direct cremation and the reasons behind this personal choice.
Celebrities who chose a direct cremation
It’s not just your average man or woman on the street who are opting for direct cremations. An increasing number of celebrities are choosing a funeral that involves no mourners and no fuss. They include:
- Karl Lagerfeld, the longtime creative director of Fendi and Chanel
- Anita Brookner, the Booker Prize-winning author
- John Lennon
- David Bowie had a direct cremation
Pure Cremation, established in 2015, offers expert help and advice for this style of a funeral to thousands of families each year, and covers the whole UK.
Does direct cremation give you more choice?
A direct cremation service allows your family to:
- invest more in the farewell event - such as really good food and drink
- Take more time to arrange a memorial or celebration of life ceremony that truly reflects your loved one’s values, beliefs, and relationships
- Find the perfect date and time for everyone to attend - including evenings and weekends
- Involve more people in the farewell
- Choose a venue or location with personal significance
- Leave a gift or legacy with the money saved
Direct cremation with mourners in attendance
Nine out of ten direct cremations are unattended, but some providers offer the option to attend if you want to. Even though there is no formal service some families find it comforting to spend time together at the crematorium. You will have to pay an additional cost, but a small number of people will be able to attend. Pure Cremation allows up to 12 people to be present. You may be offered a choice of venues from the network each provider has access to. This may not be the nearest crematorium to you.
How to choose the right cremation service provider?
It’s good to know that direct cremation can give you new flexibility over how, when and where to say goodbye to someone special - but you need to be confident that the cremation will be undertaken in an efficient and caring manner by a specialist company with a good reputation and experienced staff, such as Pure Cremation. A growing number of firms offer direct cremation, but they are not all the same - some perform all aspects of care themselves, but many use other companies behind the scenes to transport and care for the deceased. Even though you want a simple, good value for money service, you still want to know that your loved one is in good hands, so do check the credentials of the company you’re dealing with and how they operate as well as their prices. Check out each provider’s website - this is their “shop window” and the care with which this has been designed will tell you a great deal. Is it easy to use? Does it offer the information that matters to customers? Is the spelling and grammar of a good standard? Looking at third-party reviews is just one great way to get a ‘feel’ for each provider. Look for Google reviews, Trustpilot and Reviews.co.uk. You should be able to speak to staff on the telephone; use this opportunity to assess how professional, knowledgeable and caring they are. Here are some questions to ask the cremation service provider:
- Do your own staff perform all aspects of care or do you use other companies for this?
- Are you available 24/7 to collect from homes and hospices?
- Where will my loved one be looked after before the cremation?
- How long will everything take?
- Will you tell me the date of the cremation?
- Will you tell me when you have collected my loved one?
- What kind of coffin do you use?
- Where does the cremation take place?
- Do you use your own crematorium?
- Who will return the ashes to me and how quickly?
- What do the ashes come back in?
- Do you keep the details of the arrangements private?
- How long have you been in business?
- How much funeral experience does your team have?
For your convenience, we’ve compared cremation providers’ fees and services for you.
How to arrange a direct cremation?
Arranging a direct cremation is a simple, straightforward process. When someone dies, you simply get in touch with your chosen direct cremation provider to begin the process. You can make all of the arrangements over the telephone and email (or post), and the funeral arrangers will guide you through each step of the process. A direct cremation includes:
- Organising a doctor to complete the necessary paperwork
- Collection of your loved one from the place of death
- Simple care until the day of the funeral
- Booking the cremation
- Help with paperwork (Service Contract, Application for Cremation and Notice of Cremation)
- Transportation to the crematorium
- Cremation fees
- Safe return of the ashes if requested, or scattering of the ashes in the gardens of remembrance
Remember - You will still need to register the death via the Registrar located in the area where the death occurred.
Saying a personal goodbye after the cremation
You can hold your separate farewell service as soon as you like. This could be in a church but is increasingly likely to be a place that was significant to the deceased or where the family have spent happy times together. Here are some examples:
- Golf club
- Angling lake
- Favourite beach
Some families prefer to have a memorial service once the ashes are returned, often choosing an attractive urn or casket. Others will arrange a farewell ceremony that includes scattering the ashes in a favourite location. There are many other things you can do with the ashes to honour your loved one. It’s up to you.
Buying a direct cremation in advance
A prepaid direct cremation plan is a trusted way for you to arrange and pay for the practical elements of your own simple send-off. Planning your own cremation gives your family less to worry about during a time of grief and emotional loss. They will gain huge comfort from knowing your wishes and knowing how to carry them out. One of the most significant benefits is that you can freeze the cost of your funeral at today’s prices. A fully-guaranteed direct cremation plan will protect your loved ones from any potential future price rises or inflation. Wondering whether prepaid plans are safe? By prepaying for such a service, you are planning ahead, which allows you to make crucial decisions and ensure your farewell is carried out according to your wishes. Arranging a funeral with Pure Cremation couldn’t be easier. If you want to learn more, get in touch today.