Can you be cremated without a funeral?

Yes, you can be cremated without a funeral. The ‘funeral’ part of a cremation is completely optional.

Whilst most people opt for a traditional send-off with a ceremony, this isn’t going to suit everyone.

In fact, there’s a growing demand for no funeral, just cremation services in the UK.

Your funeral director can help you arrange this type of cremation (typically known as a direct cremation).

It’s usually much cheaper than having a traditional funeral and it can offer more flexibility for the family.

At Reassured, we can’t help you arrange a cremation, but we can help you arrange life insurance to help towards future cremation costs.

Continue reading as we explain the ins and outs of having no funeral, just cremation…

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What do you call a cremation without a funeral?

A cremation without a funeral is usually called a direct cremation.

It may also be called a cremation without ceremony or an unattended cremation.

A direct cremation is when the person who’s passed is taken directly to the crematorium to be cremated and the family don’t attend.

Some key facts about direct cremation:

  • This is a standalone cremation with no funeral service or ceremony beforehand
  • It doesn’t include a procession, hearse, or pallbearers
  • Mourners don’t usually attend the crematorium for the cremation
  • Costs around 60% less than a standard cremation funeral

No funeral, just cremation explained

More and more people in the UK are choosing not to have a funeral service before a cremation.

It’s growing in popularity because traditional aspects of a funeral are becoming more expensive and less appealing to modern families.

No funeral, just cremation could be a good option for you if you’re looking for a fuss-free, low-cost final farewell.

Most funeral directors can help you arrange this type of cremation as they can provide the required services, including:

  • Collection and care of the deceased until the cremation
  • Acquiring the legal documentation for a cremation
  • A simple coffin and suitable transport
  • Returning of the ashes

There may be some limitations to this type of cremation, for example loved ones may not be able to:

  • Visit their loved one prior to the cremation
  • Choose how their loved one is dressed
  • Choose the date and time of the cremation
  • Choose the crematorium

What happens when there is no funeral, just cremation?

As with a standard funeral, your funeral director or professional funeral planner can help with all the arrangements for a direct cremation.

They can provide you with support and guidance for each step following the death.

This is usually what happens when there’s a direct cremation:

  1. The person who’s died is collected and cared for by the funeral director until the cremation
  2. The legal paperwork is completed, including the cremation application form, and the cremation is scheduled for as soon as possible
  3. The person who’s died is placed in a simple coffin and transported to the crematorium in a suitable vehicle
  4. The cremation is typically carried out on a weekday at a set time with only operational staff present
  5. The ashes are cooled and prepared in a simple urn, ready to be returned to loved ones or scattered in the garden of remembrance

Depending on the funeral director and type of direct cremation you choose, it may be possible for a few close family members to be present for the cremation.

Or there may also be the option to hold a simple family-led service in the crematorium chapel with the coffin before it’s removed for the cremation.

Some families choose to hold a separate memorial or celebration of life after the ashes have been returned.

This frees them from the structure of a traditional funeral service, allowing them to say goodbye in their own way.

Can you be cremated without a coffin?

Not necessarily. In the UK, a body must be cremated with either a coffin or a shroud.

A shroud is a cloth, made from natural materials such as cotton, bamboo or wool, which is wrapped around the body.

If you don’t want to purchase a coffin for a cremation, then a shroud is the less expensive option.

Alternatively, you may consider non-traditional or eco-friendly coffin options. These are made from bamboo, wicker, willow and cardboard.

How much does no funeral, just cremation cost?

Based on recent data, a direct cremation in the UK costs (on average) £1,511[1].

However, the actual cost will depend on various factors such as the location of the crematorium and which services are included.

In comparison, the average cost of a standard cremation funeral is more than double at £3,673.

Most people also choose to include additional extras, such as flowers, when arranging a traditional send-off.

This can add several thousands of pounds to the cost of a standard cremation funeral.

Therefore, opting not to have a funeral could be the right option if your loved ones would have trouble covering this expense.

Direct cremation
(average UK cost)
Cremation
(average UK cost)
Burial
(average UK cost)
£1,511£3,673£4,794

Source: SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2023

Life insurance can help to provide financial help for your loved ones during a difficult time.

If you’d like to leave behind a guaranteed cash sum to help pay for your cremation, then you may consider an over 50s plan.

Contact Reassured to learn more about this type of cover, and to secure our best quote.

Why do people choose cremation without a funeral service?

Direct cremation offers a simple and affordable alternative for people who don’t want to have a traditional funeral.

Elements such as a hearse, limousines, pallbearers and a structured ceremony may not appeal to some.

Here are some of the reasons you may opt for no funeral, just cremation:

  • A traditional funeral is too expensive and/or too stressful to arrange
  • It would be difficult getting all family and friends together for a traditional funeral within a short time frame
  • It seems more fitting to have a less formal memorial service or celebration of life, at a meaningful location
  • Close family and friends may wish to grieve in private, away from a funeral setting

What to do when there is no funeral?

When there’s no funeral, you can memorialise and pay tribute to a loved one in other ways.

For example, you can:

  • Dedicate a time to scatter the ashes at a special location, which could be followed by a casual gathering of family and friends where they can say a few words, sing songs and raise a glass to their loved one
  • Have a permanent memorial for loved ones to visit for reflection and to leave tributes, for example, a memorial tree, bench or plaque
  • Create an online memorial where people can post tributes, fundraise and share memories and photos

What’s the difference between a direct cremation and a traditional cremation funeral?

The main difference between a traditional cremation funeral and a direct cremation is the funeral service and ceremony.

With a cremation funeral, a service takes place up until the cremation, which tends to include a procession with a hearse and pallbearers.

A ceremony would be held at the crematorium or church, led by a minister or celebrant, and attended by loved ones.

There may be funeral tributes such as flowers, music, photographs and a eulogy.

Whereas, with a direct cremation, there’s no funeral service or ceremony before the cremation and loved ones don’t attend.

However, similar to holding a wake after a funeral, family and friends may hold a memorial service following the cremation where they can pay tribute to the deceased.


The table below shows the services which tend to be part of a traditional cremation funeral and a direct cremation:

ServicesTraditional cremationDirect cremation
Advice and guidance from a professional funeral planner Icon green tick Icon green tick
Collection, transportation and care of the deceased Icon green tick Icon green tick
Choice of time and date for cremation Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Choice of crematorium Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Choice of coffin Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Family viewing at the chapel of rest Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Hearse or choice of alternative vehicle Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Funeral procession with option to have limousines Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Ceremony at church or crematorium chapel on the day of cremation Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Wake or memorial service following the cremation Icon green tick
if this is your choice
Icon green tick
if this is your choice

Have you thought about life insurance?

Many people take out life insurance to help cover their funeral costs in the future.

If you have a partner or children who rely on you financially, or who would struggle to afford your funeral, then you might consider life insurance.

There are different types of policies available, including:

Icon green tick Over 50s life insurance [from 20p-a-day]

Provides a guaranteed pay out when you pass away, and requires no medical information when you apply.


Icon green tick Term life insurance [from 20p-a-day]

Provides a cash pay out if you pass away while the policy is active, but requires your medical information when you apply.


Icon green tick Whole of life insurance [from 27p-a-day] ±

Provides a guaranteed pay out when you pass away, but requires your medical information when you apply.

Reassured can help you compare free quotes for any of these policies, so get in touch today.

Sources:

[1] https://www.sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costs/

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