Demand for simpler services grows as tastes change and cost of lavish funerals increases.
The Guardian newspaper reports that the “cost of dying” is continuing to rise, figures out this week are expected to show. But the good news for those on a tight budget, or who simply don’t want a big fuss made, is that the cost of the very cheapest type of funeral is falling.
“Direct cremation” is a low-cost, no-frills option where there is no funeral service and mourners aren’t present. In its most basic form it is – to put it bluntly – a disposal service. Prices start at £1,000, which is just a fraction of the £3,500 to £4,000-plus average funeral cost.
But while this type of send-off will not be everyone’s cup of tea, demand for direct cremations appears to be growing rapidly as more people – including those who could afford to splash out on something more lavish – opt for this type of funeral.
That certainly applied to pop star David Bowie, who died of liver cancer in January 2016 and was reportedly secretly cremated without any of his family or friends present after telling loved ones he did not want a funeral service. His ashes were scattered on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Simplicity, the recently launched direct cremation arm of funeral giant Dignity, says it saw a 400% increase in people buying direct cremations in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year. This is likely to increase further as it becomes more mainstream.
So what’s the appeal?
Partly it seems to be that by separating the actual cremation from the farewell, it means the family can organise a more personal memorial service, ash scattering or celebration of the deceased’s life in their own time.