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Is Direct Cremation Right for You or Your Loved Ones? What to Consider

The passing of a loved one often raises questions for those left behind. For example:

  • What type of funeral should it be?
  • Should the body be buried or cremated?
  • Is a full-service ceremony needed or preferred?
  • Are there more environmentally friendly options?

Among the choices, direct cremation has grown in popularity as a more affordable and simplified alternative. For those considering this approach, whether due to finances, practicalities, personal values, or other motivations, understanding what direct cremation entails and how it works can help you make a meaningful decision.

What Is a Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation is a simpler way to handle cremation. Instead of you or your loved one’s remains to a funeral home to be embalmed, they are transported directly to a crematory. Costs are based on the cremation process without the cost of a funeral service or other memorial. As such, they are lower priced in most cases.

This does not mean you cannot have a memorial ceremony or other remembrance. However, those costs would be an additional charge.

What Is Included in a Direct Cremation?

When arranging a direct cremation through a funeral provider, you can expect the following services:

  • An initial consultation to review arrangements
  • Transportation of the deceased from the place of passing
  • Safekeeping during the obligatory waiting timeframe
  • A simple receptacle for the cremation procedure
  • Incineration of the remains
  • A temporary container for the ashes upon return

You will need to sign paperwork authorizing the cremation process to take place and pay for a permit and certified death certificate. Some fees will need to be paid upfront.

You will also want to make sure you understand any additional fees, such as transportation over long distances, removal of pacemakers or other medical devices, or handling overweight individuals.

Why Families Choose Direct Cremation

There are several reasons families opt for direct cremation.

Reduced Cost

Direct cremation is the lowest-priced way to handle remains, rather than a traditional burial service with a casket and ceremony or cremation with viewing and funeral services, direct cremation costs significantly less.

According to Funeralocity, a consumer advocate site for the funeral industry, here are the average costs for each type of service:

  • Traditional Full-Service Burial: $8,557
  • Full-Service Cremation: $6,970
  • Affordable Burial Option: $5,115
  • Direct Cremation: $2,897

Some crematoriums may offer services as low as $650.

More Time for Planning

A direct cremation near you may not be convenient for everyone to attend. Some families choose direct cremation and have their own memorial services at a later date. This is especially common if family members or loved ones need time to travel. Traditional services generally take place within about a week of someone’s passing, but memorial services can be held at any time.


Some people just want to keep things simple. They do not want to burden family members with arrangements.

Environmentally Friendly

Others want to choose an eco-friendly option rather than a traditional burial in a casket or a vault in a cemetery.

How Direct Cremation Works

Funeral directors or crematory operators will remove jewelry or other items when preparing the body. Any implanted medical devices will be removed to avoid potential hazards during the cremation.

The body is then placed in a container—typically reinforced cardboard or plywood—along with identification tags. The body is then placed into the pre-heated cremation chamber at an exceptionally high temperature for cremation. The process takes about two hours.

Once the body has been cremated, the remains are compacted to produce a sand-like collection of ash. The remains are placed in a temporary container for families. Some families also chose to buy memorable urns at an additional expense.

Other Options for Handling Remains: Whole Body Donation

Another option worth considering is making your or your loved one’s body available for scientific research. By donating your body, you can make an important contribution to medical science.

Working with an accredited non-profit organization, like United Tissue Network (UTN), you can gain comfort knowing that someone’s passing can help future generations of doctors, patients, and researchers. Many medical breakthroughs have occurred because of someone’s thoughtful donation.

For those accepted into the program, UTN pays the cost of storing and transporting the deceased, ensuring placement with an ethical facility, and the cost of direct cremation after research has been completed. When cremation is finished, UTN also provides family members with the ashes of their loved ones if requested.

If you would like to know more about whole body donations and direct cremation near you, contact United Tissue Network today at 877-738-6111.

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