One recent development in the funeral industry is direct cremation. It’s something I never would have dreamed of 65 years ago, but this is undoubtedly fast becoming a mainstream option in the funeral industry. We see countless adverts offering a ‘no frills’ service, and there is a lot to be said in favour of this as a concept. 

With a direct cremation, there is no actual funeral. Families and friends are still free to gather at a later date to celebrate and remember, but at a direct cremation, only the funeral director accompanies the deceased to the crematorium, usually at a much less busy time, often early morning, and there is no traditional service.

What is important to decide is whether to go for a local direct cremation or a centralised specialist company like the ones that we see advertised. The difference is quite striking.

National or local

A direct cremation specialist provider does not also conduct traditional funerals, so they don’t have funeral conductors or directors as such. Theirs is a more logistical approach, transporting the deceased to a central location in the UK to be cremated. This is often a long distance from home. The cremated remains, or ashes, of the deceased are then returned to the next of kin or dealt with according to their instructions.

If you opt for a direct cremation provided by your local funeral director the service you and, more particularly, your loved one receives, is rather more personal. The Hunnaball Family Funeral Group also offer direct cremations with some significant advantages. We use only a local crematorium, and each deceased person is accompanied by our own staff. We always treat the deceased with the same dignity and care as we do in every funeral we conduct, even though this option will not result in a traditional funeral. We are here to answer questions, help you make choices and, critically, we keep your friend or family member close to home throughout.

Questions

There’s no doubt that direct cremations are here to stay, but, after 65 years dealing with bereaved families in an industry I love, there are several areas I would encourage people to examine as they consider a direct cremation.

Is a direct cremation worth the saving in cost?

A direct cremation is cheaper than a more traditional funeral because it doesn’t require the same resources in staffing levels or time as a more traditional funeral. There is no hearse, team of bearers, celebrant, music, venue hire, printing costs, and all the rest… so it is cheaper. But as a result it’s far less personal and, for the great majority of families, less helpful for their grieving process. A local direct cremation costs a little more, but it is more personal for those who are left behind.

Is it right for you?

When you have a direct cremation, there’s no opportunity to say goodbye at a funeral service. It might be that family and friends can meet at a later date but, no matter what we might want to believe, it is far less likely that people will gather to remember at a later date. They will want to, but life may take over and there’s a chance, no matter their good intentions, that they may never get around to it.

Direct cremations are fast becoming a good option. For example, during the pandemic they made a lot of sense when people were simply not able to gather due to the restrictions. And at the moment, cost is a huge factor for many people. There’s no doubt that a funeral comes with a significant cost, and it can seem particularly noticeable if the death is unexpected.

However, if you choose one of the large companies specialising in direct cremation, you might save a few pounds, but your funeral director will only be a voice on the end of a phone or video call. The company will transport your loved one with great care, like a valuable package, but not as personally, like a dearly loved and missed human being.

A direct cremation with your local Hunnaball Family Funeral Group branch will allow you to retain the personal element and to discuss arrangements in person. You will still receive an invitation to our ‘Light a Candle’ remembrance services each year and to ‘Name a Star’ in your loved one’s memory every Christmas.

A direct cremation with us can also be planned in advance through a pre-paid funeral plan, as a way to support your family with the costs while making your wishes clear.

How sustainable is it?

At a time when we need to be more mindful of our environmental impact, transporting the deceased to a distant location somewhere else in the UK to be cremated, and then back again to return their remains, needs careful consideration. Even electric vehicles have an environmental impact. From this viewpoint, we feel local must be better for a direct cremation, simply because it is closer to home and the carbon footprint is far smaller.

Close to home

As a local family funeral director, even when we’re supporting you with a direct cremation, our service is always personal and your loved one will be treated in every way as a dearly cherished individual. We can also offer helpful advice on local venues, cemeteries, keepsakes, and memorials. But perhaps most importantly, we will be there when you need us… in branch, in person.

I don’t think a funeral should ever be impersonal, even if it’s direct.

If you would like to talk to someone about a direct cremation, please contact your local branch and an arranger will be very happy to help you. You can also organise a direct cremation as part of a pre-paid funeral plan. Your arranger can help you to explore that option too.