Direct cremation

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 traditional 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, the funeral directors fees are an additional cost to the crematoriums fee and disbursements.

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.

Goodbye Pete

It was with great sadness that we conducted the funeral of our friend and colleague Peter Gray in January. On Tuesday I joined members of Pete’s family at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby. The Centre had long been a major part of Pete’s life, in particular their Lancaster, Just Jane. Pete had volunteered and assisted at the centre for many years, so we had arranged to have his ashes scattered in the propeller wash of the Lancaster on the first taxy day of the year. Unfortunately the aircraft could not taxy on the day due to maintenance issues, but they were still able to run her engines. Mr Panton, one of the brothers who started the museum, personally escorted Pete’s wife and daughter to the rear of the aircraft while the pilot revved the port outer engine. Pete’s ashes were released into the powerful blast from the propeller to be scattered over the airfield. It was a perfect way to say goodbye to a good friend.

Are you messing with us, Pete?

The video shows the third attempt to start the port outer engine, the one being used to scatter Pete’s ashes. It did feel as if he was having a bit of fun at our expense.

Price increases – other people’s

We have been informed by our association (National Association of Funeral Directors) that the British Medical Association has increased the fee doctors charge for completing the medical forms normally required for a cremation to £76 each. Two forms are normally required, making the total £152. This applies from the first of April and is the first increase in several years.

On the same day Lincoln City Council are increasing the fee charged at Lincoln Crematorium to £550. This is still comparable with other crematoria in the area and is not influenced by the large scale works being carried out at the crematorium at the moment.