What is Direct Cremation? In Simple Terms

What is direct cremation? Learn the process, benefits, and how to arrange a respectful direct cremation for your loved one.

The days after a loved one passes can be filled with so much emotion and so much to do. From informing relatives and friends, to deciding on a burial or a cremation, and how to go about it — it can be a lot.

Direct cremation services provide a respectful and straightforward way to lay your loved one to rest.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process and help you choose the best direct cremation services for you, taking into account the cost, convenience, and overall experience.

What is direct cremation?

Direct cremation, or simple cremation, is the most straightforward and affordable form of cremation. There is no formal funeral service or ceremony before the cremation itself.

Your loved one is cremated shortly after death, and their remains (ashes) are returned to you.

Here's a quick breakdown of what takes place in a direct cremation vs. a cremation with a funeral service:

Direct cremation:

Cremation with a funeral or memorial service:

Key difference: A traditional cremation may involve a viewing, visitation, or funeral service before the cremation. A direct cremation does not.

How direct cremation works

Navigating the process of cremation for the first time can feel intimidating. Here's a detailed breakdown to equip you with the knowledge you need:

  1. Selecting a direct cremation services provider: Both traditional funeral homes and cremation service providers handle direct cremations. You can also consider specialized cremation service providers, who often focus exclusively on cremation and may offer streamlined processes and lower costs.
  1. Authorization and paperwork: You'll need a certified death certificate before a cremation can occur. This document is typically filed by the funeral home or service provider and requires sign off from a doctor and the county.

    Make sure you understand who is eligible to sign the form (typically the next of kin), and ask the provider to explain the document thoroughly if anything is unclear.
  1. Transfer of care: The cremation provider will arrange the respectful transport of your loved one to their facility. Inquire about their protocol for secure storage and handling of remains until the cremation.
  1. The cremation process: The cremation itself typically occurs within a few days, depending on how long it takes for the death certificate to be filed, and the crematory's schedule. A cremation container, crafted from combustible materials like cardboard or plywood, is used instead of a casket.
  1. Receiving the cremated remains: The cremated remains (ashes) are returned to you in a basic container, often cardboard or plastic. 

    Many providers offer a variety of urn options for purchase, allowing you to select a permanent resting place for your loved one's ashes that reflects their personality or your family's traditions.

Timeline: The timeframe for direct cremation can vary between 5 and 10 business days. This can be impacted by the workload at the crematory and the legal requirements in your area.

Open communication with the cremation provider will help you manage expectations and understand the specific timeline for your situation.

Benefits of choosing direct cremation

How to arrange a direct cremation

Planning a direct cremation involves some key steps. We'll guide you through the process and give you some tips to ensure a smooth and respectful experience.

Choosing the right direct cremation services provider

Here's what to consider:

Important questions to ask direct cremation services

Legal documents and authorizations required

By following these steps and asking the right questions, you can ensure a respectful and stress-free direct cremation experience for your loved one.

Next steps

We hope this guide helped answer all your questions on direct cremation and how to navigate the process of planning a cremation service for your loved one.

At Meadow, we understand the weight of this moment. We offer a more compassionate and meaningful way to celebrate a life well-lived with affordable, all-inclusive cremation services and customized memorial planning services.

Our team of caring memorial planners partner with you in this tender time to create an occasion as remarkable as the life it honors.

With our licensed team, you can expect:

Explore our Personalized Memorial Services.