What is Direct Cremation?

What is direct cremation? 

Direct cremation is an arrangement in which the deceased is cremated immediately following their passing prior to a funeral or memorial service. While it is the fastest and lowest cost option than traditional cremation and burial, it also offers you an opportunity to memorialize your loved one in a way that is simple, respectful, and unique.

What can you expect from direct cremation? 

More families are opting for cremation than ever. A 2014 study from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) predicts that by 2030, the number of cremations may rise to almost 70%, far surpassing burials. 

While cremations obviously offer critical differences from burials, direct cremation also offers some differences from traditional cremation. To understand if direct cremation is the right option for you, you should understand the features and benefits of the process. There are several components of direct cremation that differ from traditional cremation, including: 

  • Less preparation. None of the usual pre-funeral preparations will take place, including embalming or dressing the deceased in a specific type of garment for burial. Keep in mind that:
    • The body will not be viewed prior to the cremation. 
    • The deceased is picked up right where they passed away. 
    • The deceased will be returned directly via mail in a temporary urn. 
  • Lower Cost. With direct cremation, costs are lower than the ones associated with traditional cremation due to the removal of traditional funeral practices. For example, the deceased will not be cremated in a casket, which will save on usual costs associated with having a casket for the cremation.  Nationwide, this can start right around $500.  Our funeral cost planning guide includes several options, with direct cremation starting at $750, while stepping up to any other service brings the cost much closer to $2,000.
  • Efficiency. Direct cremation occurs almost immediately following the person's death. There is no memorial service held. A memorial service can be scheduled later if the loved ones of the deceased choose to, but direct cremation ensures that there will be no service prior to the actual cremation. 

While direct cremation is obviously different than other more traditional forms of laying your loved one to rest, it is nonetheless a viable option. It is also important to understand that it can be done in a way that is just as respectful as any other. 

To fully understand the process, it helps to walk through the various steps you can expect to go through when choosing direct cremation. 

Talk with your loved ones

Your first move should be to discuss, with your loved ones, what will be done with the remains of the deceased. If the deceased was able to communicate their desire to you prior to their passing, discuss this with the family to ensure everyone is agreement. Time is of the essence, so while this conversation should be a respectful one, it should also be held as quickly as possible. 

If you believe direct cremation is the choice for you, you may want to share this link with your loved ones to ensure them that this is the best option for your family. They may not understand what goes into direct cremation, so educating them may help reinforce the decision. Explaining the benefits to them may help them understand why it is the right option for you. It can also help calm any fears or misunderstandings they may have. 

When a consensus is reached, you'll now aim to find the right partner for the next step of going through with the direct cremation.

Contacting the crematory

Once you've come to a decision, you'll need to contact the crematory. That's when you'll specify your preferences, confirming you'd like a direct cremation. 

The most important aspects to consider when contacting a crematory are: 

  • Knowledge. While this will no doubt be a trying time for you and your family, it is critical to understand your rights. It's important to remember that this requires the crematory to accept any cremation urn of your choice for the deceased. You should partner with a crematory that understands this and will pledge to work with you in the most honest, upfront way possible without any kind of undue pressure. This will ensure that you lay your loved one to rest in a way that's befitting them and works for your specific needs and budget. 
  • Clear communication. Make sure you talk with someone willing to work through the process with you and clearly explain the options available to you.
  • Certainty. Direct cremation is obviously not a process you can undo once it's finished, so you should be sure of your decision when communicating it to the crematory. The funeral home may offer advice on moving up to a more traditional service. If you truly want a direct cremation, be sure to stand firm with the funeral home. 
  • Maintain awareness. Know that this entire process can be arranged online for your convenience if you wish. 

Once you've contacted the crematory, informed them of your desire for direct cremation, and made the appropriate arrangements, there's another important part of the process yet to come: selecting an urn for your loved one. 

How to choose a cremation urn

Your loved one will arrive via the mail in a temporary urn that is either plastic or cardboard. To complete the process, you'll then select a permanent urn.   There are many online choices, but there are many criteria that should be considered when buying an urn online.

Criteria that should be considered when choosing your permanent urn include: 

  • Personalization 
  • Engraving options
  • Value/Budget
  • Whether keepsake urns should be considered for sharing

Why personalize your loved one's urn? 

A personalized urn does more than give the deceased a fitting final resting place. It also provides you and your surviving loved ones with an uplifting, warm reminder of the person they were during their life. There are numerous ways in which you can personalize an urn to highlight the life of the deceased including:

  • Artwork
  • Poems
  • Other texts that hold sentimental value to do the deceased

This will ensure that no matter where the urn is kept, every glance at it will bring your cherished memories to life. 

Our cremation urns are a wonderful way to keep the spirit of the deceased alive for years to come. Contact us at Green Meadow so we can help you honor your loved one in a way that will make your whole family smile to think of them. 

Nat Juchems
About Nat Juchems

Nat Juchems is a Co-Founder at Green Meadow Memorials and helps those grieving the loss of a loved one find the right memorial to cherish. Over the past seven years, Nat has worked in the online memorial industry and has helped thousands of families find and purchase the right cremation urn for their needs and budgets.

Outside of work, you can find Nat with his family enjoying being active outdoors, playing games indoors or training for Triathlons. Read more details on Nat's years of experience on LinkedIn.