One of the most common questions we get asked is – ‘what’s the difference between a funeral and a direct cremation?’ It’s a valid question, and one that still deserves attention to help you make the choice that’s right for you and your family.
A Traditional Funeral
Most people are familiar with the idea of a traditional funeral, which tends to follow a format similar to this:
Transfer of Care: Once death has been verified, the body is collected by a local undertaker and looked after while the funeral is arranged. The body may be looked after in a regional “hub” or at the local branch.
Making Arrangements: The family will go to the funeral home to complete the necessary paperwork, discuss where to hold the service and who should lead it, choose the coffin, the music, the flowers etc.
Viewing: The body can be prepared and placed in the chosen coffin ready for family visits to the chapel of rest.
The Service: The coffin is conveyed to the service venue in a hearse. Friends and family may go in procession to the cemetery or crematorium, although increasingly mourners are simply meeting at the crematorium instead. A funeral service can be held in a place of worship, funeral home, crematorium or at the graveside. The time allowed for a service at a crematorium can vary from just 15 minutes to 40minutes.
The Committal: Involves a cremation or burial. A burial will usually take place immediately after the service. A cremation will take place once a cremation chamber is available but usually happens on the same day.
The Wake: After the funeral it is customary to hold a reception or wake, usually with food and drink, for the mourners to remember the deceased n a more relaxed setting.
The Ashes: If cremation was chosen, the ashes are prepared and placed in a container ready for the funeral director to collect. They will be stored at the funeral home until a family member goes to pick them up.
A traditional funeral is still a popular choice, particularly if you are religious or find comfort in the familiar ritual and routine. However, the rising costs have caused some people concerns over the past few years and have led to some people wanting an alternative.
Direct cremation dispenses with any pre-determined format, leaving you with more options for creating the right farewell, just separately from the cremation:
Transfer of Care: Once death has been verified the body is collected by our team and brought back to our HQ where the body is looked after without unnecessary intervention and placed in a simple coffin.
Making Arrangements: We ensure that the legally required medical paperwork is produced properly and support the family, helping complete their documentation. The cremation date is booked once all of the paperwork is complete. Sometimes the cremation can happen on the same day as collection from hospital.
The Committal: On the day of the cremation the body is transferred to the crematorium, usually without any mourners and without a ceremony at that time. The cremation will either happen immediately or within a few hours of transfer to the crematorium. Learn more about the cremation process here.
The Farewell: This can happen where, when and how a family wants, and can be completely unique. Sometimes it takes place before the cremation, maybe on the same day or alternatively once the ashes have been returned as these can be used as a focal point for the event. You decide the format, who will be involved and can take all the time you need to share memories, tears and laughter – without worrying about finishing in time for the next funeral service. Discover unique ideas for celebration of life events on our Saying Goodbye page.
The Ashes: These are placed into a container ready for either scattering or safe hand-delivery to the family.
Which is Right for Me?
Unfortunately, we can’t answer that one for you. The way the end of your life is celebrated is something completely personal to you, and only you can decide what fits your wishes best. What we can say is that direct cremation offers you more flexibility and more options to personalise your send-off. That’s why direct cremations are becoming more and more popular– they allow you and your family to create a celebration of life that is unique to you, at a time and place that suits them.
At Pure Cremation, we believe in your freedom to choose how you or your loved one will be remembered at the end, whether that’s an intimate gathering at the beach with ashes, photos, and treasured memories, or in a church service full of flowers. You can find examples of what other families have done here, and we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about our service. Just get in touch with us today.