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What is a direct cremation?

A “direct cremation,” also known as a “no frills cremation” or “simple cremation,” is essentially a cremation that takes place without a traditional funeral ceremony. Better defined by what it doesn’t include than what it does, direct cremations have been gaining in popularity throughout the last couple of years, and were particularly thrown into the spotlight when David Bowie opted for one himself. 


With financial pressures and the ongoing changing covid restrictions regarding funerals, the number of people choosing direct cremation is on the rise, and we predict that the percentage of UK families choosing direct cremation for themselves and for their loved ones will continue to surge. 


In a direct cremation done by Neo, the decedent is taken into care, a cremation is performed unattended, and the ashes are personally hand delivered back to the next of kin. The hand delivery of the ashes includes a biodegradable urn, cremation certificate, and the decedent’s certificate of reforestation, which confirms that a remembrance tree has been planted in memory of the person who has passed. 


What is the difference between a direct cremation and a traditional cremation? 

Direct cremation decouple the cremation and funeral ceremony. In a direct cremation, the two no longer take place on the same day at the same time. The cremation is performed separately and privately at a crematorium usually chosen by the funeral director. In a direct cremation, the cremation happens almost immediately after death. There are no mourners present and the body is left untreated, which means there is no embalming


Direct cremations are also a cost effective way of conducting a funeral. 


A standard cremation is when there is a funeral service before the cremation takes place. The body will usually undergo embalming. In a standard cremation, there will usually be a wake, or a moment where friends and family are able to view the body. Standard cremations are usually more expensive because of the ceremony that takes place beforehand. 



Do I get to choose the crematorium for my loved one’s cremation? 

Because a direct cremation is carried out privately and independently from a traditional funeral ceremony, the next of kin rarely gets to choose the crematorium for a loved one’s cremation, especially if the crematorium isn’t local to the funeral director. Oftentimes, the funeral director chooses where to have the cremation. The next of kin will usually be informed of the date and the location ahead of the cremation date. 


You may find a list of crematoria on our directories page, here.


Crematorium in Brno, Czech Republic


Are direct cremations becoming more popular? 

Direct cremations are becoming increasingly popular in the UK for the following reasons: 


  1. It’s significantly cheaper than more traditional options – a direct cremation costs a fraction of the cost of more traditional funerals. According to SunLife’s Cost of Dying 2021 Report, the average cost of a funeral has risen to £9,263. At Neo, our direct cremations are affordably priced at £1,295.
  2. Because of personal preferences – fewer people, especially among younger generations, want a typical mournful service and somber funeral procession.
  3. Because of the flexibility – not combining the cremation and the remembrance ceremony gives families more flexibility to organise a separate sending-off, as they see fit, and when they are ready. At Neo, families are able to help organise a virtual memorial moment for their loved one. Furthermore, a direct cremation paired with a virtual memorial ceremony is a Covid safe way to remember a loved one.
  4. For practical reasons – a direct cremation minimises what many consider to be superfluous ceremonial displays without sacrificing the respectful and dignified significance of the sending-off.
  5. Direct cremation is friendlier to the planet – there is no longer a need to travel to a crematorium, and no usage of heavy carbon emitting vehicles such as a hearse. All direct cremations done at Neo are carbon offset by at least 200%.


Arranging a direct cremation with Neo

At Neo, we try to minimise the impact we have on the environment. This is why we pledge to carbon offset at least 200% of all direct cremations we carry out in honour of your loved one, you, and the environment.

If you or a loved one are interested in arranging a direct cremation, please give us a call at 0808 1962140. You may also send us an email at or jump online and speak to a member of our team via online chat. We are here to help you 24/7 with whatever you may need.

Jenn Ulloa

Digital Operations Analyst

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