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Funeral costs are set to rise over the next few years – and more people are taking an interest in keeping their funeral as simple as possible. That’s one reason why cremation without a funeral service is becoming more popular. Learn more about direct cremation below and see if it’s the right choice for you or a loved one.

In this video, funeral director, Richard Vines, and funeral celebrants, Alison Regan, Lyndsey Conquest, and Stuart Atherton tell us what you can expect from a direct cremation.



What does direct cremation mean? 

A direct cremation is a cremation without a funeral service. It’s sometimes called ‘no-fuss cremation’ and is a type of unattended funeral. This means that the person who has died is taken straight to the crematorium. There’s no formal ceremony before the cremation and no one attends. 

This makes direct cremation a more affordable option when compared with a traditional funeral service. Traditional funerals often include a hearse, limousines, a celebrant and other optional extras like flowers. 

How does direct cremation work? 

After the person passes away, they’ll be collected by a funeral director and go straight to the crematorium. The date and time of the cremation are typically chosen by the funeral director. 

In most cases, nobody attends a direct cremation except for crematorium staff. 

What happens at a direct cremation? 

Because there’s no formal funeral service before a direct cremation, the crematorium keeps things very simple. There are no flowers or music and the person who has died is taken to the crematorium in a private ambulance rather than a hearse. 

A simple coffin is used for the cremation. There’s no need for an elaborate coffin because there’s typically no viewing. 

What happens to the ashes after a direct cremation? 

After a direct cremation, you can collect the ashes – just like with a standard cremation. 

You can choose to scatter the ashes somewhere important to the person who passed away. Or you could hold your own memorial service with the ashes in a special urn afterwards if you want to. But it’s not essential if the person who passed away didn’t want a fuss. It’s completely up to you. 

Danielle Image Cropped
“Grandad wanted an unattended funeral. Low costs. Something straightforward and basic.”

Can you attend a direct cremation? 

Most direct cremations are unattended. This means no one will go to the crematorium because there’s typically no service. 

However, it’s becoming increasingly common for crematoriums to offer attended direct cremations. If you choose this option, you can attend a direct cremation – but only for a short time. 

If a crematorium offers this service, it’s important to check what’s included as details vary. Some allow a few guests to attend a simple service or blessing. Others invite family members to spend a little time with the coffin in a chapel of rest. 

If you’re interested in an attended direct cremation, it’s a good idea to contact a funeral director to see what your options are. 

What is included in direct cremation? 

Typically, when you ask a funeral director to carry out a direct cremation their services include: 

  • Helping with all the necessary paperwork needed for a cremation
  • Collecting and taking care of the person who died
  • Providing a simple coffin
  • An unattended cremation
  • Collection and delivery of ashes to the family

How do you arrange a direct cremation? 

You can arrange a direct cremation in the same way you arrange any other type of funeral. You can get in touch with a funeral director or direct cremation provider and talk to them about what they offer. They’ll help you with any paperwork that’s needed and transporting the coffin to the crematorium. They’ll also answer any questions you might have. 

How much is a direct cremation? 

According to SunLife’s latest research, the average cost of a direct cremation is £1,498. That’s the cheapest option when compared with the average cost of a cremation with a funeral service (£3,795) and a burial with a funeral service (£5,077). 

A direct cremation costs less because there’s no service. That means you’re spending less on extras like flowers and a venue, so it makes sense if you need to stick to a strict budget. 

How much a direct cremation costs isn’t the only thing to consider, though. It’s also a good option if the person who has died didn’t want a lot of fuss. Direct cremations are simple, straightforward and can be arranged quite quickly – that’s why they’re often called ‘no-fuss cremations’. 

Even though there’s less fuss, the funeral director won’t treat the person any differently. They’ll still be treated with the utmost respect. 

What’s the difference between cremation and direct cremation? 

If you’re weighing up your options and thinking about whether cremation or direct cremation is right for you, use the table below to help you decide. It shows the main differences between the two so you can compare them side by side. 

Cremation Direct cremation
‍Average cost in the UK is £3,795. Average cost in the UK is ££1,498.
‍You can hold a funeral service before the cremation. ‍There’s no funeral service so it keeps things simple and fuss-free.
You can have a viewing of the person who died at a chapel of rest. There’s no viewing before the cremation.
‍You’ll have a choice of coffin materials and styles, for different prices. ‍The coffin used is simple as it won’t be viewed by anyone.
‍You can choose a time and date for the funeral service/cremation to take place (based on availability). ‍The funeral director or crematorium will usually choose a time for the direct cremation.
‍Once the date of the funeral is booked, you’ll need to organise the parts of the service and wake that you’d like to fit around it. ‍After a direct cremation you could organise a small get-together or memorial service once the ashes have been returned to you. It can be as big or small as you’d like. And it can be at a time that suits you.

Are there prepaid direct cremation plans? 

Yes – you can prepay for a direct cremation. 

Many funeral directors offer direct cremation plans that work in much the same way as a funeral plan. You pay a set amount each month to cover the cost of the cremation and make sure there are plans in place when you die. 

You can use our directory to find funeral directors that offer direct cremation plans. Make sure you chat with them about what you want and if there are any limitations to their plans. It’s best to know exactly what you’re getting from your plan, just in case family members need to pick up extra costs later on. 

Is direct cremation a good idea? 

Direct cremation is a simple way of saying goodbye to a loved one – and it costs less than traditional funeral services. 

But it really comes down to personal preference. Whether you choose a direct cremation or another type of funeral, the important thing is that you do what’s right for you.

To weigh up your options and help you decide if cremation without a funeral service is the right option for you read our article: Why are people choosing direct cremation? 

How can I find options for direct cremation near me? 

Are you still researching your options? Would like to speak to a local funeral director who specialises in cremation without a funeral service? 

You can use our directory to find a funeral director near you. It lets you narrow down your options to those who offer direct cremation and see their costs and services all in one place. 

Photo by Tea Geitel on Pixabay.