Traditionally in the UK and around the world, when a person dies there is a funeral to help relatives and friends pay their last respects; the nomenclature and format of funerals varies between different countries, cultures, and religions. However, did you know that there is no legal requirement in England to have a funeral if you don’t want to? In fact, opting to forgo a funeral is becoming increasingly popular, but given that funerals are generally an opportunity for the living to celebrate the life of the deceased, we consider the reality of choosing this option.
What is Direct Burial or Cremation?
Termed Direct Cremation or Direct Burial, most funeral directors now provide the option to skip the formalities. Usually, the body of the deceased is taken to the funeral directors where it is prepared and cared for until the day of the funeral, at which point the loved one is transported to the place of ceremony, and then onwards to be cremated or buried as per their wishes.
In the case of a direct cremation or direct burial the body will be transported straight to the crematorium or graveyard. Most importantly, there will not be an attended funeral service.
Why Choose Not To Have a Funeral?
Currently the tradition of a funeral is strongly embedded into the British culture, and for most people the idea of not having a funeral for themselves or their loved ones would be unthinkable. However, some people are starting to choose this option. It is now part of the standard price plans for many funeral directors, with direct cremation or burial as a pre-payment choice.
So why would someone be cremated or buried without a funeral service?
- No friends or family
- Personal preference
In the event of someone dying, where there are no close family or friends the person may opt to have a direct burial or cremation. In the case of death, where there are no plans and no relatives the local authority will provide what is known as a Public Health Funeral. This may include a short, basic ceremony, where no relatives can be found, however the local authority may opt for the direct option.
As discussed in a recent post, funerals can be expensive. The cost of the service, the officiant, and extras such as flowers, stationary, and cars can be prohibitive for some people. As such, to reduce expenses, some families are opting for direct burial or direct cremation.
Steve is keen to point out that there is support available for basic funeral expenses, including holding a service and so, cost should not be a deciding factor. A funeral is an important step in the grieving process, and money should not take that away from anyone.
Of course, personal preference also plays a part too. There is a delicate balance here between honouring the request of the deceased and meeting the requirements of those left grieving. There are several other options for celebrating life without a traditional funeral that could also be considered.
Other Options To Pay Respects
Direct cremation may be a difficult option for example, if there are family and friends who would like the opportunity to pay their final respects. Choosing an alternative option to a formal service may be a solution. If possible, these should be discussed ahead of death to ensure that nothing is done that would go against the person’s final wishes. Some ideas include:
- Keepsake jewellery and other items
- Plant a tree, place a bench or other memorial
- Post cremation ceremonies
- Alternative ceremony venues
If there is strictly no funeral or ceremony of any kind to be had, keepsake jewellery, teddy bears and other memory items are a popular option. Keepsake jewellery uses the ashes of the person that has died to either make a stone using resin, or to roll the metal in creating a unique pattern. This is then used to make a piece of unique jewellery that will last forever and can provide comfort and a feeling that your loved one is always close by.
Another option is to plant a tree, have a bench put in a special location, or even choose a completely different, less traditional memorial item. The motion of choosing the item, organising what, where and when can be the perfect way to pay respects without ever holding a funeral service. An officiant can attend the placing ceremony if you’d like.
A traditional funeral is usually held in a religious venue, such as a church, or a chapel within a crematorium. However, it may be more appropriate to have a different type of service following a direct cremation. An officiant such as Celebrant Steve, can attend the interment of ashes commemorating the life of a loved one. This tends to be more a more intimate option, with just the closest of relatives and friends attending.
What is becoming increasingly popular is to celebrate the life of the person that has died by having a post cremation Memorial Ceremony at an alternate location. Whether at a family home, a community hall, or location with significant meaning such as a lake, beach, sports club, or any other venue. For example, Steve has officiated a Celebration of Life Ceremony at these local alternate locations after the loved one has been cremated:
Steve recognises the careful balance between celebrating the life of a loved one, and meeting the needs of grieving relatives, while also respecting the final wishes of the deceased.
You can contact Steve directly to discuss how he can support you to pay your respects to a loved one without violating their wishes to not opt for a traditional funeral service.