You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Sales enquiries 0800 904 7649

What is a direct cremation?

Direct cremation. If it’s good enough for David Bowie….

It's quite possible that you've never heard of direct cremation and even if you have, you may not be entirely sure what it is. But direct cremation is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to the likes of David Bowie and author Anita Brookner, who've chosen it as a no-fuss farewell and helped bring it to our attention.

Simple grey cremation urn.

What is direct cremation?

It's basically a cremation at its quickest and simplest with no funeral service.

The body goes straight to the crematorium to be cremated usually in a very simple, plain coffin. After the cremation, the remains are returned to the loved ones, to be kept or scattered according to their wishes.

The appeal of cremation without a funeral

A simple, dignified send off like this is particularly appealing to people who don’t feel the need for a formal, ceremonial funeral service. Preferring instead to hold an alternative farewell ceremony, celebration of life or memorial service at a later date.

It also appeals to people who simply can’t afford a traditional funeral service and all the trappings that go with them. And when someone has died abroad, a direct cremation can save the considerable cost of transporting the body home.

The rising cost of funerals

The continuing rise in funeral costs is a concern, they have skyrocketed 122% since we started tracking funeral costs back in 2004. Today the average cost of a basic funeral is £4,271. By comparison, the average cost of a direct cremation comes in at just £1,712.*

Such a marked difference in cost is easy to understand. With a direct cremation, many of the costs associated with a funeral can be avoided. There’s no need for hearses and limos, no embalming, no service, no officiant’s fees and no extras like flowers and orders of service to pay for. It’s also cheaper simply because the cremation can be carried out when it’s convenient for the crematoria.

Tealights lit as a mark of remembrance

An increasingly popular choice

Already, cremation is the most popular choice of funeral. 75% of all funerals in the UK are cremations and of these, the number that are direct is growing.  According to the funeral directors interviewed for our latest Total Cost of Dying report, 95% now offer direct cremations*.

5 reasons why people choose direct cremation

Beyond cost, there are many more reasons why people choose a direct cremation, either for themselves or for a loved one.

  • Simple and dignified - If you want the minimum of fuss, this is a simple yet dignified option.
  • Free rein - The simplicity of a direct cremation, leaves you free to organise a celebration of life or memorial service in any style or place you choose.
  • Inclusive - For those who aren’t religious or have friends and family with varied beliefs, a simple, direct cremation followed by a personal celebration or memorial service could mean more to everyone than a traditional funeral service.
  • Time to reflect - With more time to plan a gathering or celebration of life, being able to properly plan a suitable time when family and friends can come together to remember the life of a loved one is easier. And that will make it extra special.
  • Less upsetting - Seeing a coffin and knowing a loved one is inside can be difficult for some people, particularly children. Bypassing this step and remembering the person in a different way, can make saying goodbye a more personal and positive experience.

Balloons being released in a person’s memory.

Is a direct cremation for you?

This type of simple goodbye is never going to be everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. But it does give another option for planning a funeral in a way that works for you, your loved ones and perhaps more importantly, your pocket.

If you’re currently considering your options, use our free funeral cost calculator to find out how much a basic funeral costs where you live.

*SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2018

Find out more about the SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan

You can get a quote or give us a call on 0800 904 7649 to talk about your plan today. You can also request a call back.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.