How to know if direct cremation is right for you

3 min read

Direct cremation: The most cost-efficient option

  • With direct cremation, you make arrangements directly with a crematorium, instead of through a funeral home.

  • The cost, usually between between $800 and $1,200, is a fraction of the average funeral’s price tag.

  • Since you’re not working through a funeral home, you are responsible for planning the ceremony on your own.

  • If you have a tight budget for your loved one’s funeral and want the flexibility to hold the ceremony at a later date, direct cremation may be the right choice for you.

If you and your family are thinking about end-of-life arrangements for your loved one, you may be interested in the option known as direct cremation. An alternative to traditional burial and cremation ceremonies, direct cremation is increasing in popularity because of the flexibility it can offer to families, as well as the relatively low cost.

Rather than making arrangements through a funeral home, a direct cremation entails working directly with the crematorium to organize the cremation.

Typically, direct cremation does not entail a ceremony or visitation at a funeral home, but this doesn’t mean that you and your family can’t create your own special ceremony to honor your loved one.

On the contrary—choosing direct cremation can allow families to honor their loved ones in different ways and with more flexibility.

Why choose direct cremation?

Most people find direct cremation to be the best option for them simply because of the price. While the exact cost will vary from place to place, direct cremation will usually cost you between $800 and $1,200—much lower than the average funeral in the U.S., which costs between $7,000 and $10,000.

By choosing this service, you can eliminate a long list of expenses typically associated with a funeral ceremony and burial, including the cost of a casket, the embalming, funeral home charges, the opening and closing of the grave, and the cost of a burial plot. These services can put a huge financial strain on families.

Aside from the price, direct cremation offers other advantages. Once you have your loved one’s cremated remains (or cremains), you can choose to hold a ceremony for them at any time that suits your family’s needs.

This would be especially helpful if family members are living far away, are ill or disabled, are affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or for whatever other reason might be unable to gather immediately after your loved one’s passing.

With this flexibility, there is no deadline for planning a meaningful send-off like there is with traditional burial. You can even travel with your loved one’s cremains if you need to, in order to honor any end-of-life wishes your loved one may have had in that regard.

What’s included with direct cremation

A direct, or “basic,” cremation can vary depending on your location, but it generally includes pickup and transportation of the body, filing necessary paperwork, the actual cremation process, and the return of the ashes to the family.

Instead of going through a funeral home, you would be communicating directly with the crematorium. The first step is finding a local crematorium that works for you, and then it’s simply a matter of organizing the date and time.

Aside from the lower cost, some people choose cremation because it is better for the environment than a traditional in-ground burial.

Many people gravitate toward the simplicity and expediency of the process of direct cremation, which allows the family to have more control over the timing and nature of their mourning ceremony, whatever it will look like. The whole process generally takes place in two to three days.

Once you have your loved one’s ashes, you can pick out an urn or other type of container to permanently hold them. The crematorium will normally return your loved one’s ashes in a temporary urn, but if you have chosen an urn in advance, you can provide it to them before the cremation so they can use it instead.

Traditional funeral ceremonies involve many moving parts, yet must be planned on a tight deadline—and often a tight budget. Aside from the flexibility it allows families to have in terms of cost and timing, some people choose cremation because it is better for the environment than a traditional in-ground burial. Whatever your reason, the simplicity and affordability of a direct cremation can be comforting in a time of immense emotional stress.

You may be eligible for free bereavement support. Empathy can help with everything from funeral planning to estate administration, with step-by-step guidance and real-time expert support. Many people get free premium access to Empathy as a benefit with their life insurance claim. We partner with New York Life, Guardian Life Insurance Company, Bestow, Lemonade, and other leading carriers. When you make your life insurance claim, talk to your representative about whether Empathy is a benefit they offer.