What is a Direct Cremation and why are they becoming more popular?

A direct cremation is a low-cost funeral option which keeps the goodbye simple. They’re steadily growing in popularity across the UK and it’s an option now available with Essentially Coles. So, we wanted to talk about this type of funeral in more detail and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

What is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is sometimes referred to as an unattended funeral. That’s because it’s a cremation with no funeral service or ceremony conducted beforehand, meaning the family cannot attend a funeral. Instead, a loved one is brought to the funeral home before going on to the crematorium. With Essentially Coles, this is all done locally, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case with other funeral providers. So, it’s worth double-checking the small print before making your final decision.

After the funeral, the ashes are returned to the family to be scattered or kept, depending on their wishes. Sometimes, a family may choose to host a Celebration of Life service after the funeral to honour their loved one’s life in a way that is personal to them. But this is determined by individual wishes and isn’t a requirement of a direct cremation.

Are direct cremations becoming more popular?

Direct cremations have grown in popularity since the pandemic when they first saw an 11% increase in the number of people UK-wide adopting this type of funeral, largely due to their practicality under the circumstances. But they aren’t going anywhere fast. As of 2023, 20% of all funerals were described as direct cremations and 76% of people are now aware that direct cremations are an option for them. So we anticipate that we’ll see more people choose to embrace direct cremations over the next few years.

So why are Direct Cremations growing in popularity?

  • Financial considerations – research from SunLife’s Cost of Dying Report 2024 shows that direct cremations are significantly cheaper than traditional burial or cremation funeral services, and in the last 12 months, they fell in price by 1% (the only funeral type to reduce in price). They’re typically more affordable because families aren’t spending money on flowers, limousines, or any other extras to personalise the final goodbye, with supplier costs naturally fluctuating over time. With 44% of people saying that the cost of living crisis is impacting how they organise and pay for a funeral, and 76% saying that paying for a funeral has impacted their mental health, they’re a more affordable and practical option for many families, especially now. 
  • Process grief – yet while they’re certainly more affordable, this isn’t always the reason why loved ones left behind choose them. Sometimes, families are not ready to grieve publicly and feel that a traditional funeral service would be more emotionally taxing and stressful, especially if the loss was sudden. Instead, they may choose to organise a special, non-traditional get-together in their own time that best reflects the life of the person they are grieving, allowing them to process their emotions before this happens. After all, 33% of those who opted for a direct cremation chose to hold a wake afterwards while 27% held a memorial service. 
  • Keep things simple – with their impact on mental health, it’s understandable that some families are looking for a more simple and efficient way to organise a funeral. Respondents chose a direct cremation because they believe they’re simpler (30%), more efficient (27%) and less stressful to organise (26%). This is because they do not have to arrange all of the finer details of the funeral and at times, it can save disagreements amongst family members about what their loved one would have wanted, especially if they didn’t leave any instructions for their funeral. This isn’t uncommon. After all, only 1% of people know all of their loved one’s funeral wishes, which can be a real challenge. 
  • Honour individual wishes – the most popular reason why families chose a direct cremation compared to a more traditional cremation with a service is that it was requested by their loved one (39%), with an additional 17% saying that a direct cremation had already been arranged by their loved one. It’s often seen as a way to reduce the financial and emotional burdens on those left behind and this trend is only set to continue. 21% of people said they would want a direct cremation when their time comes, and 37% said that they want their family to spend as little money as possible on the funeral.

However you choose to say your final goodbye, we’re with you every step of the way. For more information about our Essentially Coles Direct Cremations, click here >>>