DIRECT CREMATION … WHAT’S THAT?

DIRECT CREMATION … WHAT’S THAT?

If only I had a penny for every time someone asked me in the last week – “Why has the crematorium limited numbers?” and “Does that mean we can’t have a funeral?”.  Next week I think we will be asked “What is a Direct Cremation?”. 

Losing a loved one at any time is a terrible experience to go through. Grief hurts – it takes your breath away.  Yet those first two weeks following a death often fly by.  The loss of a loved one triggers weeks of organisation and this  often delays our pain – for a while.

The tradition of a funeral is to create a time where the true journey of grief  can begin.  A funeral service brings a community together.  It brings an opportunity to acknowledge our loss and process our hurt with those we love. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FUNERAL NUMBERS ARE RESTRICTED?   

At the moment we are undergoing a soft ‘lockdown’.  Gatherings of more than 2 people are effectively banned – “With the exception of funerals”. Currently a burial or cremation can go ahead with mourners in attendance. However the number of people that can attend has been severely restricted.

 

HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN ATTEND A FUNERAL AT MY LOCAL CREMATORIUM?

Some have all limited their numbers to 4 – 6 mourners only. Understandably, these limitations may feel restrictive and cruel – unimaginable even.  As a funeral celebrant I can share a slightly different perspective. 

The painful yet understandable truth is that people are scared of congregating at a funeral.  Even if they are ‘allowed to’. Those that want to attend often receive requests from their own families not to.  Unless you are a very close relation or friend you may feel that it is wiser to protect your own health. 

Some celebrants are already providing ‘alternative’ services at crematoriums.   Sadly, we are now preparing for the likelihood that ALL of our deceased may be sent to Direct Cremation. 

 DIRECT CREMATION – DOES THAT MEAN NO FUNERAL ?

 Direct cremation means no gathering or service.  Your Funeral Director will take your loved one to the crematorium by hearse. Once there they will hand the coffin into the care of the crematorium staff.  The coffin will be taken directly for cremation. 

ARE THERE ANY ALTERNATIVES TO DIRECT CREMATION?

On the face of it – unfortunately not.  The guidelines are set in stone for everyone’s safety to prevent cross contamination. Currently, there is no indication as to when these will be lifted.  

Clearly times are changing around us incredibly quickly.  Flexibility is going to be the key during these times for everyone!  Fortunately forward thinking and agile independent celebrants are now able to offer families a ‘virtual’ funeral.  

Look online to find a local celebrant that can provide this service. If you ask your Funeral Director to contact them on your behalf. Their fees will be part of your funeral package. 

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL SERVICE?

Well first and foremost – it is not a funeral service that you would recognise.  Sadly a virtual service can’t ever replace the tradition of attending a final resting place.  You won’t have the option to meet your loved ones face to face and offer hugs and words of support.
 No one will ever try and tell you this is a great alternative.  It simply isn’t. 
 
But if Direct Cremation becomes compulsory it will be the only alternative.  A virtual service can also be booked whilst the number of mourners remains restricted at a crematorium. 
 
What a virtual service does provide is a set time and space for your friends and family to join together to acknowledge their loss and share their memories.
 
At the same time as the coffin arrives at the crematorium you will be invited to observe and interact with the service – albeit remotely.  Your celebrant will lead a personalised ceremony to celebrate the life of your loved one.  The service can include readings, rituals, songs and a Eulogy.  Everyone can be encouraged to join in from their own home.  
 

HOW IS THE DIRECT CREMATION PLANNED? 

Initially a celebrant will contact you through a phone meeting or video call (whichever you prefer). This will be in place of the usual home visit. During that meeting they will gather enough information to create a service that is meaningful and memorable.  The celebrant will help you to create a fitting funeral.  Would you prefer a traditional style or something more upbeat and celebratory?  
 
Funeral Directors should be happy to take a photo of the coffin, hearse and flowers that the celebrant will share with you. This may help you to visualise the ‘final journey’ which has became synonymous with traditional funerals.  
 You can invite as many people as you wish to attend ‘virtually’ from the safety of their own home.  

 

IT’S ALL TOO MUCH OF A SHOCK – I CAN’T FACE THIS RIGHT NOW

Many families affected by Coronavirus will find the loss of a loved one both sudden and shocking.  They may wish to postpone the service until later in the year.  Speak to your independent celebrant about arranging a ‘Celebration of Life Service’ at a venue of your choice.  You could gather together in your own garden, in a favourite place you visited.  Perhaps raise a glass in your favourite drinking place or even at a sports / social club?   

 

THE FACE OF FUNERALS WILL CHANGE OVER THE COMING MONTHS

There is no reason for a family to lose their loved one to direct cremation without an opportunity to honour their life.  It is crucial that we find ways to show our respect in a way that is meaningful and personalised.
 
Please do feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss a virtual service for your loved one.