Direct cremation or a simple funeral?

December 20, 2018   //   No Comments
SAIF thanks Past President Paul Allcock for his blog:

The last 12 months have seen many businesses promoting very strongly their offering of a direct cremation. Indeed, there are many who see this option as a way of keeping the costs of a funeral as low as possible in this time of funeral poverty.  I have read it being championed by media and businesses alike as an appropriate option for those who can’t afford the costs of a standard funeral in today’s market.

I have heard of many funeral directors being asked to arrange a memorial service separately from the cremation, which ultimately results in all the same elements of a more traditional funeral needing to be arranged. Subsequently there are little or even no financial savings for the family concerned.

My concern is how many people are fully aware of the limitations that this puts on a family, and subsequently the dangers of agreeing to a direct cremation service without the full knowledge of what it includes.  Or more importantly, what is excludes, as there is no service with no attendance, no allowance of time being spent with the deceased; basically having no say in any matters.  Quite simply a disposal service!

A further concern is that someone arranging a pre-paid funeral for themselves at the lowest cost available is likely to be only paying for a direct cremation.  Even if they have chosen this option because it is all they want for themselves, they may not have considered how this can effect their family at the time of death.  The majority of family members will want to have a funeral service of some kind. 

Surely a more appropriate option for the majority, and an option which seems to be often overlooked, is the offering of a simple funeral.  Simple funerals have been around for many years and the majority of funeral directors will still offer this service.  Although there are some variants between businesses on what a simple funeral includes, all will at the very least allow the opportunity to hold a service with the deceased present. 

The terms of most simple funerals will limit the choice of coffin and possibly the timing of the service, but all the essential elements of a funeral will be adhered to, particularly including the proper care of the deceased and the support of bereaved family members.  Many funeral directors offer a simple funeral at a cost not much greater than a direct cremation, because to carry out a direct cremation with appropriate dignity and respect will only be slightly cheaper than a simple funeral.

A good funeral director will always include the element of good advice and will help people manage their expenses at a time when this can easily be exploited.

So for those who actually want a direct cremation in agreement with family members, then the simple service, when carried out with care and respect for the deceased, is absolutely the way to go.  However, I urge people to be very careful and to ensure full awareness of what a direct cremation includes.  The effect that this service can have on bereaved family members, who aren’t fully aware of what a direct cremation consists of, can be significant and yet easily avoided.