What Is Direct Cremation?

When choosing how to lay our remarkable loved ones to rest, there are many decisions that fall on the shoulders of surviving friends and family members. 

Choices such as which form of cremation will best celebrate our loved one’s impact and legacy can feel difficult in the days immediately following our loved one’s passing, but understanding each of our options can help us feel confident in the decision we make for our loved one.

Direct or “simple cremation” is one of the most cost-effective burial options, taking the complexities out of burial and allowing a family to focus on what matters most: honoring the life of our lost loved one

What Is Direct Cremation?

When a family chooses direct cremation, your loved one is transported to a crematorium 24 to 48 hours after their passing. Your loved one will be taken directly from the home or hospital where they spent their last moments to a crematorium. 

Once your loved one has been cremated, their remains are returned to the family in a memorial container such as a cremation urn or cardboard box. At this point, families can choose how to honor their loved one through a memorial service, an ash-scattering ceremony, or the creation of a memorial keepsake.

The biggest difference between a direct cremation and other forms of cremation is that direct cremation occurs before any type of memorial ceremony.

Other forms of cremation include a funeral service in which the body is prepped for a viewing before their cremation. Traditional cremations require body preparations such as embalming to preserve a person’s appearance for their viewing. These add to the cost of cremation alongside the costs of funeral arrangements.

Since direct cremation takes someone to be cremated directly after their passing, there is no need for embalming, nor is there a need to select a casket. Direct cremation allows the family to take their loved one’s ashes from the crematory to a ceremony of their choosing or directly home with the family.  

What Are the Benefits of Direct Cremation?

Organizing and planning a funeral while feeling the weight of grief can seem an impossible task. Coordinating with funeral homes and family members across different area codes can be overwhelming. 

While there is no incorrect choice when it comes to honoring our loved ones’ impacts and legacies, direct cremation has unique benefits that may appeal to surviving family members. Direct cremation eases the stressors of traditional funerals because it extends the time we have to plan a memorial, it is a greener burial option, and it is cost-effective. 

These benefits can provide families with the means and time to celebrate their remarkable loved one’s life in a way that honors their unique personality and aligns with the surviving family member’s individual needs.

It Gives the Gift of Time

One of the greatest advantages of direct cremation is that it gives the gift of time. When families opt for traditional cremation, they are subjected to a ticking clock. Their loved one must be embalmed quickly after passing to preserve the body and slow the decomposition process. 

Funerals are typically performed less than a week after a loved one’s passing. This leaves very little time for families to process loss before they enter funeral planning. Since the process of direct cremation is simple, straightforward, and does not include a typical funeral service in advance, families have time to process their loss before planning their loved one’s memorial. 

Once the family receives the cremated remains of their beloved, they can then take time to plan a ceremony. This allows family members to contemplate how their loved ones would want their life to be honored. 

It’s Environmentally Friendly

Direct cremation is one of the most eco-friendly burial options, making it a thoughtful choice for honoring loved ones who were passionate about the environment or sustainability. 

Since direct cremation occurs so quickly after someone passes, embalming the body is unnecessary. Embalming is a process that slows the outer effects of death by injecting the veins with a formaldehyde and water mixture. 

While this process preserves our loved ones for viewing, it also releases harmful chemicals into the Earth when they’re laid to rest in a traditional burial. Chemicals such as formaldehyde, methanol, and phenol seep into the earth and pollute land and water. 

Traditional funerals also require coffins or caskets. These burial vessels require the use of environmental resources. Copious amounts of trees are used each year to make coffins and caskets. Caskets also require the use of concrete that does not decompose into the earth. Direct cremation does not require the use of a coffin or casket because the ashes are returned to family in urns or cardboard containers. 

Finally, traditional burial generally also involves tombstones to mark gravesites. Tombstones or headstones are also made from non-biodegradable concrete. Not only that, but graveyards also take up large portions of land that require the use of fertilizers to maintain the landscape. 

Since most families will either scatter ashes following direct cremation or keep ashes in an urn, the use of graveyards is not necessary. 

These many ecological benefits can be a heartfelt reason to choose direct cremation for a remarkable loved one, as it’s a way to lay your loved one to rest that celebrates the values they held when they were here on Earth. 

It’s Cost-Effective

Losing a loved one is sometimes unexpected, meaning funeral plans are not able to be prepared beforehand.

Direct cremation is the best choice for those looking for a cost-effective burial while still providing the flexibility of planning a memorial ceremony that honors their loved one in the future. 

For a traditional funeral, embalming alone can cost anywhere from $500 to $700. From here, other funeral costs must be thought through as well. 

Traditional funerals also generally require the selection of an expensive casket or coffin. Burial caskets usually range from $1,000 to $2,000 and can also require the use of a hearse to transport the coffin or casket from the funeral home to the burial site. While alternative containers are available, they do add to the costs of a traditional funeral service.

The use of traditional funeral homes also requires fees to use the space and the staff to perform even a basic service. 

In 2021, the average funeral cost was approximately $7,600. Direct cremation, however, costs the family between $2,000 and $5,000. Additional costs may also be included if the family chooses to provide their own urn for their loved one’s ashes. 

Direct cremation doesn’t require the traditional funeral costs, offering a simpler and more cost-effective way of burial. However, your loved one’s final resting place is an extremely personal decision, and there is no wrong choice. 

If you believe that burial would best reflect your loved one’s values and legacy, it is a wonderful way to honor their remarkable life.

It’s Simple

Direct cremation is also the simplest way of memorializing your lost loved one. The process of direct cremation can occur within the span of two to three days. Not only is it a relatively quick process, it also does not require preparation outside of communication with a crematorium. 

Direct cremation does not require funeral planning and allows the family to focus on their own healing journey before choosing how they wish to celebrate their remarkable loved one’s life. 

It Provides Flexibility 

Direct cremation also allows for the most flexibility following the cremation process. Once your loved one’s ashes are sent back to your family, you can decide how to honor your incredible loved one. 

Families can keep urns inside the home, choose to bury urns at a gravesite or hold an ash-scattering ceremony. 

Families can also divide the ashes among family members and create cremation keepsakes, such as memorial diamonds. This memorial option allows you to keep a physical reminder of your loved one’s legacy with you throughout your life that will last through generations. 

Since the process of direct cremation is straightforward and simple, families have more room in their schedules to coordinate a ceremony or memorial that best represents their loved one. 

Conclusion

While every burial option has its benefits, direct cremation is amongst the simplest, most flexible, and most cost-effective methods of burial. Direct cremation takes some of the stress out of funeral planning by providing a dignified-yet-simple memorial option. This form of cremation allows families the freedom to choose the way in which they will honor and celebrate their remarkable loved ones. 

Sources:

Gravestones and Symbolism | The Oconee Hill Cemetery Project

Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist | Consumer Information

A Green Cremation Is An Alternative To Traditional Funerals | A Greener Funeral 

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