Direct Cremations – How Covid-19 Changed Funerals


Direct Cremations – How Covid-19 Changed Funerals

The global healthcare crisis altered the way many people think about things including the ways in which funerals could be conducted. This has partly accounted for the great rise in the number of people booking direct cremations for their loved ones than used to be the case. To be fair, more and more direct cremations were being conducted at British crematoria even before Covid-19 changed the world. However, they’ve surged ahead and look set to remain a big part of the funeral industry in the post-pandemic landscape. Why are they so popular and what did conducting funerals during a pandemic teach us?

To begin with, the increased take-up in direct funerals – both cremations and burials – wasn’t just a series of national responses to the sorts of restrictions the governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland put in place during periods of lockdown. After all, the rules differed depending on where you lived and the increased popularity of direct cremations can be seen across the board in all parts of the UK. However, mourners became accustomed, to some extent, to the idea that grieving for someone didn’t necessarily mean having to stage a traditional funeral service for them. What many people realised through the necessity of the restrictions during Covid was that funeral services didn’t necessarily mean that much to them. In other words, what they wanted was something that run-of-the-mill funerals weren’t always offering them.

As such, people throughout the country started to plan celebration of life services instead. Just like memorial services that you might attend at a place of worship sometime after a funeral service has been conducted, these gatherings are much more centred on the life of the deceased and represent more of recognition of their legacy. For some – and it is just some – this is more important than the rites and rituals associated with a traditional cremation which might involve an officiant who never knew the deceased personally. Therefore, what many people learned during the pandemic was that they would prefer a no-frills, low-cost funeral and just deal with the body in a legally correct way. Everything else, including dealing with the aftermath of the bereavement, can wait until a more suitable time down the line.

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This is an important point about direct cremations which, at first glance, can seem impersonal because no mourners attend them. According to Newrest Funerals, a company that arranges many direct cremations, all you need to do is to collect the cremated remains of the deceased afterwards. Nevertheless, more people than ever before are looking for a funeral that simply gets the job done so they can get everyone who mattered to the deceased together for a more joyful celebration later on. After all, it is hard to give thanks for the life of someone who has recently passed on because doing so at a traditional funeral often feels uncomfortably close to their death. 

Consequently, a direct cremation and a service or gathering a few weeks or months afterwards is exactly what many people found was what they had been looking for during the pandemic. Some will never go back to the old way of doing things now they know what suits them.