Can you have a funeral without a service? Yes, you can. It’s called an unattended funeral and it’s becoming more popular in the UK.
What is an unattended funeral?
An unattended funeral is when a person is cremated or buried without having a funeral service. This means there are no family or friends at the funeral. Instead, everything is organised by a funeral director.
Why choose an unattended funeral?
Planning a funeral is a very personal choice. These are some of the most common reasons people choose to have an unattended funeral:
You know that the person who has died didn’t want a lot of fuss for their funeral.
You’d like to have a more personal or less conventional celebration of life – maybe in a less formal setting.
To save money on the cost of the funeral, as an unattended funeral costs a lot less than a traditional funeral.
What happens at an unattended funeral?
With an unattended funeral, there’s no service and no mourners. Instead, the funeral director will collect the person who has died and take them to a crematorium or cemetery, depending on what you’ve chosen. The person is then cremated or buried without a service – which means there are no family or friends at the funeral, and no readings or music.
What are the main types of unattended funeral?
Unattended cremation: also called a direct cremation or a closed cremation. The person who has died will be taken to a crematorium and cremated without a service.
Unattended burial: also called a direct burial. The person who has died will be taken to a cemetery and buried without a service.
How much does an unattended funeral cost?
As you’d expect, an unattended funeral costs less than a traditional funeral. This is because you won’t need to pay for a venue, a hearse or a celebrant.
In the UK, the average price of an unattended cremation in 2021 was £1647. The price of a traditional cremation was £3765 and the cost of a traditional burial was £4927 (SunLife 2022). So it’s clear that an unattended funeral is a good choice if you need to save money.
It’s also worth knowing that prices for an unattended funeral start from around £900-£1,000. This price will vary based on location, whether you choose a cremation or a burial, and if you have any optional extras such as delivering the ashes after the cremation.
If you’re worried about the cost of the funeral, you could:
Consider an unattended cremation instead of a burial. An unattended burial usually costs more than an unattended cremation. This is because you’ll need to pay a burial fee on top of the funeral director’s costs.
Look into direct cremation specialists. They may be able to give you a better price than a traditional funeral director, as they focus only on this type of service.
Shop around and compare prices. You can use our funeral price comparison tool to find funeral directors who organise unattended funerals in your local area.
Can you prepay for a direct cremation?
Yes, you can choose to pay for a direct cremation or burial before you die. Many funeral directors and direct cremation specialists have a pre-paid funeral plan. You’ll usually find details on their website.
If you choose a pre-paid funeral plan, make sure that family or friends know about it, so that they can use it to pay for the funeral. It also means they can respect your wishes and give you the funeral you want.
Can you go to an unattended funeral?
No, you can’t attend an unattended funeral. This is because there is no service or ceremony to attend. Instead, the person who has died is cremated or buried privately, without any mourners.
However, family or friends sometimes choose to have a celebration of life that’s separate from the funeral. This might be a wake at a local venue, or a more informal get-together for everyone to share their memories. So there may still be an opportunity for you to pay your respects.
If you want to organise an unattended funeral, you can find funeral directors in your local area who offer this option by using our funeral director finder. Simply type in your location and then select ‘Unattended Funerals’ as the funeral type.