Two Halves of a Funeral: Cremation & the Ceremony After
When you’ve recently lost a loved one, having to organise a funeral ceremony is what’s to come next. There are many more types of funeral services than people realise and can choose from, which can determine the tone of the event.
For most of us, attending a funeral is not an enjoyable experience and conjures up the Dickensian image of a uniformed funeral director, a crowd of mourners dressed in black, and one dreadful day that whizzes by in a gloomy haze.
So, if you’ve ever pondered ‘how can I do things differently?’ you will be pleased to know that with direct cremation you can open up different options by treating the cremation and farewell ceremony as two completely separate events.
The ceremony doesn’t have to be elaborate, expensive or a big event. More and more people are looking for a farewell that is a better reflection of their loved one's life, and more in keeping with their family's beliefs and relationships.
What happens at a traditional cremation ceremony?
If you choose cremation for your funeral arrangements, the cremation service can be held in the crematorium or another venue such as a place of worship. Cremation funeral services or ceremonies are usually held before a body is cremated.
Usually, the funeral director will meet the family at their home with the hearse and any limousines. This cortege will drive slowly to the ceremony venue, usually the chosen crematorium. More and more families choose to meet the funeral procession at the crematorium.
The order of service for a cremation ceremony is very similar to other types of funeral service. This can be religious, spiritual or completely secular.
Typically, pallbearers will take the coffin into the crematorium, and the family will follow it into the venue and sit at the front. Other guests may stand outside or wait inside before the coffin enters.
An officiant leads the cremation service, which usually includes readings, eulogies, and music. The family can choose what these are. This part of the service lasts between 20-45 minutes. After this, the coffin is transferred to the crematory until the cremation takes place - which can be several hours later, depending on the scale of the facilities and number of services that day.
If the cremation ceremony is held at a different location before the crematorium, pallbearers will carry the coffin to the hearse. The funeral procession will then go to the crematorium for the committal.
After the cremation, it is a tradition for mourners to attend a wake. However, it is an optional element of a cremation funeral.
Cremation ceremony etiquette
It is usual for the bereaved family to set the tone of the cremation funeral service. Funeral etiquette can also vary according to tradition and family values.
There are no actual rules you have to follow, but there are traditional ways to do things. These traditions cover most aspects of a funeral, for example, messages for funeral flowers, funeral invitations, who should attend a funeral, whether the funeral is public or private, and much more.
Are bodies cremated straight after the service?
The final step of the cremation funeral process is when the coffin is taken away for cremation. It may happen straight after the cremation ceremony or some time after. Following the procedure, the ashes will be available for collection, usually by the funeral director, approximately 48 hours after the ceremony date.
Why families choose cremation without a ceremony
A direct cremation is a simple, no-frills option that many people now choose for themselves and their loved ones. It’s a no funeral option that does away with the traditional send-off. It also allows family and friends time to grieve in their own way before arranging a public or private event.
Like most aspects of modern lives, funerals have evolved to meet the changing needs of people today. We’re seeing more and more people opt for something a little different to remember and celebrate those they have lost.
By choosing a direct cremation, the cremation itself is carried out in the same way and to the same standards as for a traditional funeral, allowing you or your loved ones to plan a truly unique send-off.
The direct cremation funeral
If you’ve never heard of direct cremation, let’s see if we can explain what to expect. It’s a type of a simple funeral style that’s becoming increasingly popular.
A traditional funeral and a direct cremation are identical when it comes to the cremation process, but the timing and style of the goodbye can be very different indeed.
A direct cremation provider will still be responsible for the collection and care of your loved one. Just like a traditional funeral firm, here at Pure Cremation, we look after people who have died at home, hospital, hospice and nursing homes. We also work with Coroners for unexpected deaths. Everyone who passes away in England and Wales is brought back to our client care facility at Charlton Park Crematorium in Hampshire. Scottish clients are cared for in Glasgow, and Northern Ireland clients in Belfast.
In almost all cases the cremation will proceed on a day chosen by the provider and without a ceremony attended by family members. Pure Cremation does offer the option to arrange for up to 12 people to attend a crematorium within the network we use, allowing quiet time with the coffin present. No service takes place at this committal gathering and additional fees apply.
After the cremation, the ashes can be hand delivered to an address of your choice. Delivery to mainland addresses within the same territory is already included in Pure Cremation's price.
What is the average cost of a cremation funeral vs. a traditional funeral?
According to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2020, the average cost of a basic funeral with a burial is £4,975. The average cost of a cremation funeral is £3,858. Direct cremation, on the other hand, is much more affordable. You can arrange a direct cremation funeral with Pure Cremation from £1,195.
It is important to note that direct cremation is not a cheap funeral - it is a distinctive alternative to a traditional farewell and so will not be right for everyone.
Learn all about direct cremation services and costs to get to know your options.
How to separate the cremation ceremony into two events
Separating the cremation and the farewell provides a number of benefits to your loved ones. It gives them time to really consider not only what you would have wanted, but also what they would like from the ceremony. This could be anything from dress codes to scattering the ashes at a special place.
It also gives them more time to come to terms with the loss, so planning and attending a celebration or wake will not feel as painful. And don’t forget, choosing a unique send-off means you can invite everyone – including children and pets.
Plan your special ‘ceremony’ after the cremation
With friends and family spread all over the world, planning a celebration in the future gives them time to make travel plans so that they can attend. It allows your loved ones to decide exactly when they want to hold the personal farewell without being constrained by the funeral director or crematorium diary.
It also gives you time to decide what to do with your loved one’s ashes and consider various cremation ceremony ideas.
Choosing an interment or scattering the ashes ceremony
Interment is a term used when you keep the ashes of a loved one in a permanent place following a cremation. You can choose to place them in a burial plot, a niche in a columbarium, an urn garden, on private land, or a special burial vault.
Interring cremation ashes is a good option if your family already has members buried at a specific location, you want permanence and a sense of tradition that a cemetery or graveyard can provide, or have specific religious beliefs.
Most cemetery style locations will offer a lease on a niche or plot. This will be for a fixed number of years and if not renewed at the end of the term the cemetery has the right to move the ashes and make the plot available to another family. While this rarely happens at the moment, it is something to bear in mind. Churchyards and natural burial ground plots are usually sold 'in perpetuity' - forever.
Another option is to scatter the ashes. While there aren't prohibitive laws in the UK you should always get a landowner's permission before scattering over land or water.
Scattering ashes in your 'happy place' is a very popular option, but certain questions must be carefully considered. Will the family be able to visit easily in the future? Is it legal? Will the ashes harm the delicate ecosystem? Read our guidance on the best places to scatter ashes.
Celebration of life ceremonies
We all find our own way of mourning the loss of a loved one. More and more funerals are moving away from a focus on death and towards a celebration of the life that has been lived.
Traditional funeral customs such as wearing black and sombre rituals are being replaced with more upbeat events that allow family and friends to pay tribute to the person they knew, rather than mourning their loss.
Everyone can say goodbye in a uniquely personal way. Holding an ‘after cremation ceremony’ means you have the time to consider an event that truly reflects the unique life that your loved one lived.
Memorial service ideas to honour their memory
A memorial service is an excellent way to celebrate your loved one’s uniqueness. There are lots of different ways you can honour the memory of a loved one. Here are a few examples:
- A memorial ramble if they were a mountain or nature lover
- For a dog lover, you could hold a doggy-lympics
- Hold the service in a favourite place
- Organise a music event with a tribute
- Plant a memorial tree
- Hold a memorial firework display
A memorial service allows family and friends to illustrate how important the deceased’s life has been and how much their life mattered. It is also a very meaningful way to say goodbye.
A memorial service allows for flexibility in time and planning. There is no reason why it can’t take place several days or even weeks after the date of death or the no ceremony cremation.
Cremation funeral services and online events
The current pandemic has changed the way people plan and attend funerals. There are often rules about who can and can’t go to a funeral, which can be very upsetting and challenging for everyone involved.
Rules on social distancing apply to funerals, which means that people living in different households must stay two meters apart. It may feel strange and unnatural not being able to hug someone, hold their hand, or comfort them at the funeral. This is another good reason to organise a memorial service at a later date.
And if not all of your family can make it for the ceremony, technology has provided a range of options from online memorials to a live-streamed farewell ceremony or event.
You could request our free guide containing everything you need to know about direct cremation and the Pure Cremation prepaid plans.