Celebrant Views

A More Holistic Approach to Funerals – Part 2 – Direct Cremation

Direct Cremations

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called A More Holistic Approach to Funeral  where I discussed a new breed of Funeral Director; one that recognises that offering more control, input and choices to the bereaved really helps the grieving process.  I also talked about more personalised possibilities when organising both burials and cremations as well as more eco friendly and sustainable practices, including an alternative cremation practice using water; RESOMATION. This time I want to allow you to consider the benefits of a Direct Cremation and how it will help you to gain more flexibility and time to reflect, celebrate and remember. It can afford you the opportunity to have a more warm, relaxed , personal and gentle goodbye.

What is a Direct Cremation?

A direct cremation is a cremation without a service. The person who has died is collected and cared for by the funeral director until the day of the cremation when the coffin is taken to the crematorium without any mourners present.  Any Funeral Director will help you through a direct cremation for your loved one.

Yesterday I was in a meeting with a guest speaker; a lady called Holly Lyon-Hawk.  Holly is a Funeral Director; but she is a funeral director with a difference.  Holly titles herself as a Holistic Funeral Director; a Specialist in Ceremonial Care of the Body and End of Life Doula.  Through her business, Stag Direct Cremations, she is a great advocate for the direct cremation approach and offers a wonderful package available to anyone based in England and Wales.  Leaving you free to approach a celebrant in your area to create you a memorial service at a fraction of the cost, yet with a more flexible content than you could have at the crematorium.

What are the benefits of having a Direct Cremation?

Without sounding crass – because money is a factor – direct cremations are less costly than a cremation with a service.

A service at the crematorium is often tight for time.  A typical ‘slot’ is 20 minutes (or 40 minutes if you pay for a double slot) , however there is often another service following directly behind you and another hearse pulling up at the front door whilst you are filing out at the back.

What can I do instead?

memorial oak tree planting and ash scatteringEven if you have a direct cremation you can still arrange with the crematorium that they play a certain piece of music or live stream/video it for you.

If you want to be alone whilst this is taking place, perhaps you might like to sit somewhere special, light a candle, play a piece of music.  Maybe you can advise everyone who knew them that the direct cremation will be taking place at that time and suggest they each light a candle and listen to the same music, or take a moment to think about them.

Or you can have a memorial service elsewhere at the same time – or at another time completely (perhaps when you receive the ashes).  I have always advocated for the idea that families should not be constrained to their time slot in a church.  My aim is always to open up people’s awareness of there being another way.  Basically take the service to the wake rather than have it at the crem.

Did you know?

Not only can you choose to keep you loved one at home after they die; you can also help to wash and dress them before they leave.  Many people find this last act of love and compassion, soothing and cathartic.  It is very personal and intimate, and you would do it with the guidance of the funeral director or a qualified doula, trained in this area.

“To gently wash, dry, anoint & dress your loved one can be one of the most profound &loving experiences of your life” – Holly Lyon-Hawk

Did you also know?

You can have the coffin delivered anywhere.  So, if you wanted to have a memorial or life celebration BEFORE a direct cremation, the Funeral Director will bring the coffin to the location of your choice so you can have the person with you whilst you celebrate their life.

Where can I hold a memorial?

floating flowers down a river in memory of a lossYou can have a memorial anywhere you like.  Some people want it at their home, or in village hall or pub.  Others may choose somewhere that might traditionally be considered a wedding venue.  What about at a club if you are remembering someone who belonged to one?  Maybe a marquee or field?  How about a mountain top, area of woodland or by a lake or river?

The whole point of a memorial is to help you, and those also grieving, begin to process their loss and find connection and support from others who love you or the person whose life is being remembered.  The life celebration, remembrance, honouring of life or memorial; whatever you want to call it, can take any format, include just about anything, and be as long or short as you want.

REMEMBER :  There are no rules.

For more ideas read :

Alternative Memorials and Tributes

Alternative Memorials, What to Do with Ashes


Feel free to comment