What’s direct cremation all about?

‘Direct cremation’ lacks a clear definition. Arguably, in principle, ‘direct cremation’ means that a body is collected from the place of death and cremated with no attendant ceremony at a location unknown to the person arranging the funeral. The cremated remains will be disposed by the direct cremation operator or returned to the person arranging the funeral if they so wish.

Many private sector operators specialise in this kind of service, and many funeral directors now offer a direct cremation option. ‘Direct cremation’ is often purchased as a pre-payment option where here is a desire to plan in advance.

In practice, each supplier of ‘direct cremation’ will present a package of possibilities with various price points: for example, extra fees might be charged if the family does indeed want to attend the cremation or receive the cremated remains. 

The 2023 Sun Life annual report on the cost of dying indicated an increase in the number of people who opted for direct cremation, although it should be noted that respondents were not guided in how exactly that might be defined. 

Often, direct cremation is associated with a ‘celebration of life’ event that takes place without the body. 

The think-tank Theos has recently produced a report on funeral ritual and includes reference to  direct cremation.