Cremation or burial: what are the key differences?

Deciding between burial or cremation following a funeral ceremony means taking several factors into account. Here are the key considerations you should be aware of.
Burial and cremation both have their roots in centuries-old cultures. The Ancient Egyptians buried their dead alongside their possessions, while archaeological records have found evidence of cremation dating back thousands of years. Both methods are still in use today, and the choice you make will depend on three key considerations:

This is of course in addition to any preference expressed by the deceased and their family.

The ceremony you want

With a burial, the body of the deceased is placed in a coffin, which is sealed before it is placed in the ground, while cremation refers to the process in which the body is burned to ashes. A burial usually involves a ‘traditional’ ceremony, which follows a set structure and doesn’t offer much potential for personalisation. This can be a good thing, as the pressure of adding customised elements to the funeral arrangements when you are dealing with the grief of losing a loved one can feel overwhelming. However, a cremation can offer more flexibility if that is what you want. A service can follow the structure of a traditional funeral, or it can resemble a more intimate gathering. In addition, burials must be done in a relatively short amount of time, but with a cremation you can schedule a time and location to bury or scatter the ashes that suits everyone, which can offer you a longer opportunity to start to come to terms with your loss.

Financial and environmental factors

Burial costs include the coffin and cemetery plot, and for these reasons there is often the perception that it’s a more expensive option compared to cremation. However, low-cost coffins made with veneer or chipboard, or even cardboard that can be decorated as you wish, can help ease these financial considerations. In addition, the deceased and their friends and family might want to hold an eco-friendly funeral that has a minimal impact on the planet. In terms of burial, dispensing with embalming and opting for a willow coffin – also known as a wicker coffin or basket coffin – is an increasingly popular choice. Other biodegradable  or ‘green’ materials that can reduce the impact of burial on the environment include banana leaf, seagrass, rattan, wool and bamboo. Also bear in mind that while cremation doesn’t involve embalming, it still uses fuel and produces emissions that are potentially harmful to the environment.

Choice of memorialisation

If you choose to bury the deceased, either in a cemetery or on private land – providing you have permission – a headstone can mark the place and offer friends and family a physical place to visit and remember their loved one. This can still be the case with cremation, so remember that scattering the ashes is just one option. You could keep the ashes in an urn, or arrange for them to be buried in the crematorium’s garden of remembrance. This means the ashes will either be scattered under a tree or bush, or placed in a sealed compartment in the garden wall that is marked with a plaque.

Whatever you decide, finding the right funeral director will take a lot of the anxiety out of the arrangements, and our online comparison service can help. Find out more here.


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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

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

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 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 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.