What is direct cremation?

white and yellow flowers against a white background

Can you just have a cremation and no service? Yes – you can.

It’s called a direct cremation and it’s a simple, fuss-free option for people who don’t want an elaborate funeral service. With funeral costs set to rise over the next few years and more people taking an interest in keeping their funeral as simple as possible, direct cremation is becoming more popular. Learn more about cremation without a funeral service below and see if it’s the right choice for you or for a loved one.

What is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is a cremation without a funeral service. There’s no ceremony before the cremation and no one attends. Afterwards the ashes of the person who passed away are given back to the family. That way, they can remember their loved one in the most suitable way for them whether they choose to scatter the ashes or store them.

How does direct cremation work?

After the person dies they’ll be collected by a funeral director and go straight to the crematorium. There’s no need for an elaborate coffin because there’s typically no viewing. So just a simple coffin is used. There’s no formal funeral service before a direct cremation and no guests attend. So the date and time of the cremation are typically chosen by the funeral director.

After the cremation the ashes can be collected by the family. They can choose to scatter the ashes somewhere important to the person who passed away. Or they could hold their own memorial service afterwards if they want to. But it’s not essential if the person who passed away didn’t want a fuss.

Most direct cremations are unattended. This means that no one will go to the crematorium because there’s typically no service. But some crematoriums will allow some family members to attend a direct cremation. If you want to look into this in more detail 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 much is a direct cremation?

What is the average cost of direct cremation? According to SunLife’s latest research the average cost of a direct cremation is £1,593. That’s the cheapest option when compared with the average cost of a cremation with a funeral service (£3,673) and a burial with a funeral service (£4,794).

Direct cremation costs less because there’s no service. That means you’re spending less on things like flowers and a venue. But if the person who passed away didn’t really want a lot of fuss it’s a good option to consider. And if you need to stick to a strict budget it’s a good choice too. Even though there’s less fuss, the funeral director won’t treat the person any differently. They’ll be treated with the utmost respect. So if you’re worried about costs, a direct cremation may be the right choice for you.

Traditional cremation or direct cremation?

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


Traditional cremation Direct cremation
‍Average cost in the UK is £3,673. Average cost in the UK is £1,511.
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 can choose a coffin ranging in price and detail. The coffin used is simple as it will not be viewed by anyone.
‍You can choose a time and date for a funeral service/cremation to take place (within reason). The funeral director or crematorium will usually choose a time for the direct cremation.
‍Once the date of the funeral is booked you’ll have to organise the parts of the service and wake that you’d like to fit around that. 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.


Can you arrange a direct cremation in advance?

Yes. Many funeral directors offer direct cremation plans that you can organise and pay for in advance. It’ll work in much the same way as a funeral plan. You can use our funeral director search tool to find funeral directors that offer direct cremation near you. Make sure you chat to 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. Here are some reasons why people choose direct cremation:

Whatever the reason behind choosing a direct cremation, the send-off is no less meaningful than a traditional service. In fact, a small reception or wake can be held in the comfort of your own home when you like. This could the personal send-off that you’d really like for yourself or a loved one.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash