Is cremation or burial better?

coffin with flowers on top

If you’re planning a funeral, one of the main things to decide is whether to have a burial or cremation.

What are the main differences? And what other things should you be aware of?

Cremation vs burial: what’s the difference?

Burial and cremation both have their roots in centuries-old cultures. The Ancient Egyptians buried their dead alongside their possessions, while archaeological digs have found evidence of cremation services dating back thousands of years.

Both methods are still in use today and remain very popular. Unless you want to explore alternative kinds of funerals, you’ll have to choose between cremation or burial.

The choice you make will depend on:

Of course, the person who has died might have made their choice while they were alive. It’s important to take this into account, along with the wishes of their family.

The ceremony you want

With a burial, the body of the person who has died is placed in a coffin, which is sealed before it’s placed in the ground. Cremation is a process where the body is burned to ashes.

A burial funeral usually follows a set structure and can’t be personalised very much. This might be a good thing, as it can be hard to focus on small details when you’re grieving.

A cremation offers more flexibility. A cremation funeral can follow the structure of a burial ceremony, or it can be more like an intimate gathering.

In addition, burials must be done relatively quickly. But with cremation, you have as long as you like to bury or scatter the cremated remains. This means it’s easier to schedule a time and location to suit everyone. It can also give you more time to decide on a final resting place.

The cost of cremation and burial

If you’re arranging a cremation or burial, it’s important to consider funeral costs. You’ll have to pay burial or cremation fees, as well as funeral director fees.

The burial fee includes the coffin and cemetery plot. This is why burial is often more expensive compared to the cost of a cremation funeral.

However, there are ways to save money if you decide on a burial. For instance, you can choose low-cost coffins made with veneer or chipboard – or even a cardboard coffin that can be decorated as you wish. Learn more about choosing a coffin.

The environmental impact

Every type of funeral and cremation service has an impact on the environment.

With a burial, embalming chemicals used to preserve the body can leak into the soil. And while the cremation process doesn’t involve embalming, it uses fuel and produces emissions that aren’t environmentally friendly.

You could choose an eco-friendly funeral instead. These special funerals are similar to standard burial ceremonies but are designed to minimise their impact on the planet.

Eco-friendly funerals usually don’t involve embalming. They often switch the traditional wooden coffin for a willow coffin – also known as a wicker coffin or basket coffin. You might also see “green” coffins made of banana leaf, seagrass, rattan, wool or bamboo.

Choice of memorial

After a burial, you’ll probably want to mark the grave with a headstone. This provides a physical place where friends and family can visit and remember the person who has died. The headstone might be located in a cemetery or on private land if you have permission.

With cremation, you have more options. You could scatter the ashes, keep them in an urn or arrange to bury them in the crematorium’s garden of remembrance.

If you choose to bury them, they’ll often be placed in a sealed compartment in the garden wall and marked with a plaque. You could also choose a “cremation grave” – a small memorial that has room for one or more sets of ashes.

Whatever you decide, choosing the right funeral director will help take some of the pressure out of the process. You can find funeral directors near you using our easy online comparison tool.

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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