The Rise of Direct Funerals
The cost of a basic funeral in the UK has risen for the 14th year in a row and now stands at £4,078, an increase of 4.7% in just one year and a huge rise of 112% since 2004!
In the face of such a steep rise in costs, more families are moving away from the traditional send off and embracing direct funerals which can cost significantly less at £1,795.
This guide will explore what a direct funeral involves, the main benefits of choosing to have this type of service and aims to tackle the controversy surrounding going against traditional ceremony establishment. Our infographic at the end of this post summarises everything you need to know about the topic in an easy-to-share format.
What is a direct funeral service?
Before we can explore the benefits, let’s first define what it actually is. A direct funeral is the direct cremation or burial of a body without the traditional ceremony (and costs) that usually accompany the disposal of the deceased.
While this might sound quite disrespectful, what it allows for is the assurance that your loved one can be cremated or buried immediately, and the celebration of the life of your loved one can be held exactly as you would like it to be when you choose.
Why move away from tradition?
Funeral poverty is a family or individual’s inability to pay for the funeral of a loved one, or where the costs incur a significant debt for the bereaved.
In the UK alone, funeral poverty has risen 50% in just three years, seeing more and more families every year buried under debt solely to provide an “appropriate” send off for a loved one.
The costs involved in hosting a traditional funeral can be completed avoided by choosing a DIY service instead.
4 Benefits of choosing a direct cremation or burial
In addition to the cost benefits of choosing this type of plan for your loved one, there are also a host of other benefits. Here are 4:
1. It’s more personal
Without the need to pay for and hire a funeral director, a celebrant and a mortician, your service can be held wherever you choose and be organised exactly how you want it to be.
This choice is becoming so popular that around 68% of funeral directors say they have already seen a decrease in the number of religious funerals they were involved in, and just 11% of those who organised a funeral for a loved one described the tone of the service as ‘religious’.
By choosing to arrange your service yourself, you can create a day as unique as the loved one you lost without the restrictions of holding a religious ceremony purely in the name of tradition.
2. It’s stress free
A direct funeral simply sees the body moved from the place of death direct to the crematorium or cemetery to be cremated or buried. Any services or celebrations of life are then held at a time and place of your choosing.
With no body transportation to manage, funeral home chapels to book or mortician work to pay for, the disposal and funeral process is managed very quickly on your behalf, leaving you free to grieve and concentrate on your loved ones.
3. It’s all about honouring your loved one
With a direct service, there’s no need to decide on the little details such as the lining of the coffin, the finish of the handles or the price of the oak vs mahogany casket.
Instead, you can focus on creating a DIY service that is as unique as the loved one you lost in a location personal to you and your family.
4. It’s not time dependent
Once your loved one has been cremated/buried, you are able to delay the service until a significant date or other family members are better able to attend.
This is particularly important for families with loved ones living abroad or those who are unable to attend until a later date. It also allows for the passage of time, giving the bereaved the change to grieve at their own pace without being forced to organise and manage a funeral.
How to organise a direct funeral
As these types of funerals are becoming more common, more and more funeral homes are offering this service.
In fact, 94% of the funeral directors questioned for the Sun Life Cost of Dying Report 2017 said that they already offer direct cremations and of the ones that don’t, a fifth plan to.
But be mindful that organising a direct funeral through a funeral home should be extremely simple with no additional costs. If you find that the pounds begin to add up, consider organising everything yourself.
- Arrange for the deceased to be transported from the hospital / mortuary to your chosen crematorium (direct cremation) or funeral home and cemetery (direct burial). You can speak directly with your chosen crematorium or cemetery to arrange this without the need for any intermediary such as a funeral home.
- Collect the ashes of your loved one in your chosen urn (cremation) or visit the grave site of your loved one.
- Arrange the memorial service of your choice to be held wherever you like (cremation) or graveside at a later date.
Personalising the perfect memorial
In 2017, in the US, 40% of all cremations were direct cremations, whereas in the UK, only 5% of all funerals were direct.
David Bowie even chose a direct cremation in New York rather than the overwhelm of a traditional funeral. This allowed for his family to maintain their privacy during such a difficult time and also to create a memorial and celebration of his life that suited their family and reflected his personality.
‘Celebration of life’ type funerals are becoming extremely popular in the UK as they allow complete freedom in the planning of a memorial as unique as the loved on who passed.
The freedom of a direct funeral is that there are no rules and no formal steps to follow.
Here are some things to think about to create the perfect celebration of the life for your loved one:
Who will be invited to the memorial?
Decide whether your celebration will be intimate, restricted to just immediate or close family, or a large celebration including everyone who would have been invited to a traditional service.
Where will the memorial be held? Locally at a spot with lots of fond memories or further afield?
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Celebrations of life can be held anywhere in the world in venues that can hold the number of invited guests. Think of a place of personal significance. Get creative!
How will you celebrate your loved one?
Celebrations can incorporate an officiant to add a sense of formality, or, if your celebration is more informal, a family member can be put in charge to encourage the telling of stories and move the ceremony along.
What would you like to include in the ceremony?
Popular choices include the playing of the departed’s favourite music, a remembrance video, scrapbooks where guests can write messages and share memories and favourite foods of your loved one.
The ways in which you can celebrate the life of the one you held dear are limitless.
Handling objections about holding a direct funeral
One of the biggest problems when deciding upon a direct funeral is often the views of others, particularly those of friends and family. Yet, a celebration of life memorial is more common than you think.
In fact, when surveyed, two in five (38%) people who organised a funeral recently said they would want their own to be as cheap as possible to spare the bereaved the weight of debt.
One in six said they would like a direct cremation with a joyful celebration with a direct funeral celebrant rather than a traditional, religious and sombre affair.
When handling objections from others remember that while the act of a ritual is proven to help with the grief of those left behind, the type and level of tradition is not important.
What matters is creating a service that best honours the life of the deceased and supports the bereaved to cope with their grief.
Direct burial or cremation is a stress free way to honour your loved one without adding the burden of long term debt.
Additionally, these services are becoming more relevant as well as more popular as customs in the UK shift from the traditional to the more modern and pragmatic, (just look at the upcoming ‘People’s Wedding’ of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle).
Objections from friends and family may add pressure but remember that your direct funeral service can be personalised to best reflect the life of your loved one while still taking care of the living left behind.
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