There has been quite a bit of talk in the media lately about ‘direct cremations’. The term can lead to some confusion so it seems to be a good time to discuss what a direct cremation is.
A direct cremation is the simplest possible cremation, usually having a very plain coffin, few or no flowers and, most importantly, with no service or ceremony at the crematorium. At Lincoln Crematorium direct cremations are only allowed at 8.45 in the morning, with there being no ceremony in the chapel the crematorium reduce their fee to £580, instead of £750, (from 1st April 2019). Although there is no service held, the coffin is still taken into the crematorium through the chapel, just like any other funeral. In order to minimise the funeral directors costs we supply a plain simple coffin, use a vehicle of our choice (usually our Ford Galaxy) to convey the deceased to the crematorium, provide enough staff to convey the coffin into the crematorium with dignity and respect (but not on shoulders) and do not provide chapel of rest facilities.
Often a direct cremation is arranged on purely financial grounds, whether through necessity or by choice. People who are planning their own funeral sometimes specify a direct cremation in order to save family and friends the distress of having to attend their funeral. In many cases this will turn out to be counter-productive; all human societies, all religions and beliefs have held ceremonies after a persons death. This has been the case for thousands of years and is still the case now, which indicates that there is a fundamental human necessity to say goodbye to a departed family member or friend in some meaningful way. What form that meaningful way may take varies enormously across different times and cultures but it is always present. Those who are denied it often struggle with the grieving process and may not cope well later on.
If, however, there is to be a memorial service or ceremony of some sort at a later time the direct cremation can make sense and be a sensible move. The important factor is to think it through, discuss it with family and/or friends and your funeral director before making the final decision. Saying goodbye to a loved one is an important step in life and all aspects must be considered carefully. The committal at the crematorium can be an intensely emotional point in the funeral, the importance of this should not be overlooked.