You may have heard the term direct cremation but what exactly does it mean? Put simply a direct cremation is a cremation that happens in private and without any formal service beforehand. The deceased is transferred directly from the hospital to the cremation facility.
The cremation still happens individually and with respect. But no family or friends are present when the cremation actually occurs. This is actually typical – people are not typically cremated immediately after their funeral service. When the curtains close, the coffin goes to the back rooms of the crematorium but usually it does not immediately begin cremation. Instead the crematorium has up to 72 hours to perform the cremation. This is designed to help efficiently operate the cremation equipment.
Direct cremation has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last few years. Famous people including the musician David Bowie and writer Anita Brookner have chosen to have a private cremation. And many people are choosing direct cremation for themselves or their loved ones as it provides greater flexibility and offers a more modern experience than a traditional service inside a draughty crematorium or church.
The cost is also much lower. A traditional funeral in Britain in 2021 costs almost four thousand pounds, whilst a direct cremation is often a fraction of this. One firm, Harbour, offers direct cremation from as little as £895. They say they are able to provide the service for this low price as they use the crematorium early in the morning, before traditional funeral services have begun. Since the cremation is unattended, they don’t have to book the chapel. Instead the coffin passes through the chapel and then directly to the cremator. The cremation is still individual and respectful however, with the crematorium operations proceeding just as they normally would.
Harbour have even produced a free handy guide further explaining exactly what is a direct cremation.