What is direct disposal?
Direct disposal means that the body of the person who has died goes straight off to be cremated or buried without a funeral ceremony. John Lennon was directly cremated, as were Anita Brookner and David Bowie. No one was there. If even one person pops in to say farewell, it’s not a direct cremation, it’s a funeral. If you think it’s direct disposal you want, you need to understand that.
Compared with a conventional funeral it’s cheap. And it’s increasingly popular. Why do people opt for direct disposal?
Perhaps the person who died didn’t see the point of a funeral – what good does a funeral do, really?
Perhaps they had lost touch with their family
Perhaps there’s very little money
Perhaps there’s lots of money – there usually is – but that’s not the point
Maybe there will be an alternative ceremony of some sort, perhaps involving the ashes – a harvest ritual as distinct from a corpse ritual.
Yes, you can still hold a commemorative event before or afterwards if you want – anything from a memorial service to a private family-and-friends affair. There are pros and there are cons. You need to think them through. Download our factsheet and consider the issues Direct cremation and burial.
Who does it?
All of our Good Funeral Guide Recommended Funeral Directors offer a direct cremation service.
If you are shopping around locally though, be careful.
Some tradition-bound undertakers hate direct cremation because they think it’s undermining their business model, which relies on clients buying a full-service funeral including extremely expensive vehicles. They may also think that direct cremation is a poor way to mark the death of someone — that it is undignified, skinflint, etc. In short, they simply don’t get it. Don’t engage an undertaker who is grudging or reluctant.
Online direct cremation specialists
Remember, when it comes to price, in funerals as in life, you tend to get what you pay for. The direct cremation market has grown very fast in recent years. Google it and you’ll find all sorts of online specialists offering great deals. If you want the body of the person who has died to be treated with respect, be very careful. A precious few of these outfits are excellent but there are some are dreadful ones, too. This is an unregulated industry, remember: the bad guys can get away with… anything. The good guys ask us to visit them and check them out so that we can confidently recommend them. The bad ones, obviously, don’t.
If after browsing the website you don’t feel you have a clear idea of the identity of the owner, AVOID. If there is no postal address on the website, AVOID.
We note there has been a recent entry to the direct cremation market – Dignity Caring Funeral Services, trading under the name Simplicity Cremations. At the time of writing we are not clear whether this option is routinely offered to clients who choose a Dignity owned funeral director (they trade under their original names) as an alternative to their much more expensive traditional funerals – oddly there is no mention of their direct cremation service on the Dignity website.
We currently recommend only one specialist direct cremation service:
* Simplicita Cremations – run by Nick Gandon, the original pioneer, a GFG hero.
Crematoria working directly with the public
We were interested to hear about a private crematoria operator, one of the major ones in the UK, who are now offering direct cremation to all, so we went to have a look at what they are doing.
Memoria Ltd currently operate seven crematoria with an eighth due to open soon, and others awaiting planning. At all of their crematoria you can arrange a direct cremation directly with them, using their Low Cost Funerals service. They work with local funeral directors who carry out the collection and care of the person who has died on their behalf.
Memoria’s CEO Howard Hodgson commented that “Memoria believe that there is not only a moral need to supply this legitimate demand, but that such provision can also reduce the cost of a funeral by up to 70% and that this must be good news for bereaved families.
He added, “We are now seeing a ground-breaking change as the baby boomers start to end their days. This generation changed the fashion of life and now it is changing the fashion of death. This is good news for families who want to select low cost direct cremation and yet does not impact at all on those who don’t”.
We liked what we saw at the crematorium we visited. If dealing directly with the crematorium itself when arranging a direct cremation appeals, then this option may work well for you.