What is a direct cremation service? A simple and affordable alternative

direct-cremation-servicesIt is common knowledge that we are experiencing a cremation trend in the United States but maybe not as readily acknowledged that there has also been a growing demand for direct cremation services.

A direct cremation is a simple cremation without any ceremony or additional services being offered by the funeral services provider.

Some funeral service providers refer to it as a “direct cremation with no ceremonial services”.  The deceased is collected from the place of death, transferred to a crematory and/or funeral home, all the legal documentation is completed and then the deceased is cremated and the cremated remains returned directly to the family.

The growing demand for this type of cremation service is largely due to the need for more affordable and simple disposition services.  More families either cannot afford an expensive funeral service, or simply do not want to spend unnecessarily on funeral costs.  Aside from the cost factor, more families do not want fussy traditional funeral rituals and more families are dispersed than living together in a state or city, so a simple cremation can provide an effective and efficient means to take care of the remains of a loved one.

Which funeral service providers offer direct cremation services?

I believe it is fair to say that nearly all funeral service locations offer a “direct cremation” service on their General Price List.  It is often towards the bottom of the price list.  It can be the lowest cost cremation service on a price list as it involves the most minimal services from the funeral location.  Historically it has not been promoted as a service offering as many funeral directors feel it does not reflect the level of service they would prefer to offer a family.  And, of course, there is not the same level of profit in a direct cremation!

The funeral profession, in the main, still feel that we need the ritual of a funeral service in order to have closure on a death.  Although I can acknowledge that this is very important to some individuals, some families today do not feel that an immediate ritual is necessary.

Some funeral providers have opted to focus on cremation, and sometimes indeed direct cremation, as the core of their funeral businesses.  These providers will clearly promote their direct cremation packages and prices.

Independent Cremation Societies have emerged offering a variety of cremation services, including direct cremation.  Service Corporation International has its cremation brands with National Cremation and Neptune Society.  A number of online cremation networks or portals have emerged that help you arrange a direct cremation online at a lower cost.  These vary between networks of independent funeral homes such as DFS Memorials, Parting.com and Cremation.com who all openly disclose the funeral homes that participate in their network and direct you immediately to the local funeral home.

In difference to these networks there are also online portals trying to capitalize on the opportunity to resell cremation services into funeral businesses at a cost and not disclosing which funeral company you would be dealing with.  Heritage Cremation Provider, Legacy Cremation Services and Simple Cremation Online are examples of such portals.

Direct cremation is going to provide the simplest and most economical disposition method for those who either do not want any services, or cannot afford services.   As this market grows there will be more and more competition between funeral service providers, and it will be imperative to ensure you compare prices and inclusive services and check exactly WHO you are dealing with.

How is our aging population going to be able to afford to die?

According to a new study from Feeding America millions of aging Americans can little afford to eat, never mind afford to cover their end of life expenses.  The study reports that a significant number of Baby Boomers (defined as those now between the ages of 50 and 64) are not the affluent generation we once believed, and are actually facing numerous economic and health issues.

A report by Feeding America and AARP found that approximately 8 million boomers are struggling to afford to eat and are turning to charity for food!  10,000 people turn 65 every day and this growing aging population, overwhelmed with financial issues, is going to have a knock-on effect on the billion dollar death care industry.

How are seniors changing their funeral plans?

affordable-funeralsWhat we are witnessing right now in the US is a huge shift towards cremation as a funeral alternative. Why? Mainly because it presents a much lower-cost option for those families who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on a funeral.

In fact, what we are observing through the DFS Memorials network is that the real shift is towards ‘direct cremation’.  This is the lowest cost disposition option available and means that the funeral services provider just delivers the service to cremate the deceased without any ceremony and returns the ashes to the family.  In most metro areas in America a direct cremation costs between $695 and $995…so as you can see this makes for a much more affordable death care option.

With a more mobile retiring population and the less traditional sentiment of the boomers, direct cremation provides an inexpensive and more versatile disposition choice.

The sad reality is that not only is there a generation of boomers struggling financially, their children are also struggling under the weight of the poor economy.  CNN reports that 76% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck which really demonstrates the real financial situation.  If Mom or Pop have not put funds aside in a funeral plan or life insurance….who really has the funds to pay for a funeral?

How will this affect the death care industry?

Profits are down across the nation as we shift from that traditional $10,000 – $15,000 funeral to a simpler cremation alternative that can cost anywhere between $995 and $3,500.  This means many funeral homes are themselves struggling financially.  Many have already closed or amalgamated and the largest corporate death company has bought out its two nearest competitors over the last few years!

The industry is still largely embracing cremation as an opportunity to sell creative ‘personalized’ services under the notion that boomers want something different and are prepared to spend on unique life celebrations.  Whilst there will always be those individuals who can afford to spend on an extravagant send-off, there will be far more who want the simple and least expensive cremation option.

“A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying,”

~Pope John Paul II

Save money on funeral costs with a simple, dignified cremation service

Funerals have become an expensive affair these days, and as more families are struggling to put food on the table, the sudden responsibility for death care costs can present a financial crisis for some families.  The important thing to know is that there ARE more affordable alternatives to an expensive funeral.

How can I save money on arranging a funeral in Tennessee?

cremation-costs-tennesseeYou can save money on a funeral by informing yourself of the choices you have and shopping around to compare funeral costs and packages.  A traditional funeral costs just under $8,000 (National Funeral Directors Association 2012) and this does not include any cemetery fees.  So the total average cost for a funeral is nearer to $10,000 – $15,000.

There are cheaper alternatives – you can save on costs by taking a few steps.  A cremation can save you at least 50% on the cost of a traditional burial, as you do not need a casket, burial vault, embalming and transportation to the cemetery.  Opting for a simple direct burial can help to reduce costs, as can choosing a simple pine burial box rather than a steel casket.  Arranging to do the funeral services yourself or conducting home death care can also be a way to minimize costs, and also make the experience a very personal one.

How much does a funeral cost in Tennessee?

As mentioned above the average cost for a funeral is $7,775, however, it is possible to arrange a full-service funeral for around half this price.  The DFS Memorials providers offer a traditional funeral package at $3,995 which includes a casket (but not cemetery fees).

affordable-cremationArranging a home funeral or a natural burial

Conducting a home funeral or arranging for a natural, green burial can mean you can save on funeral costs.  Looking after the care of the deceased yourself at home means you do not have to pay for the services (and overhead) of a funeral home.  This is not for everyone, but there are organizations who support families that wish to tend to the death care of their loved one.  Read more about this in ‘DIY Funeral Care’.  Natural burial grounds are not as expensive as conventional cemeteries and you do not need a casket.  A simple bio-degradable container is acceptable.  In many cases a home funeral can be conducted for between $500 – $1,000.

How much does a cremation cost in Tennessee?

The average cost of a cremation is $3,200, however, a basic cremation can be arranged for much less than this.  An affordable cremation ‘direct cremation’ in Tennessee can be conducted for $995.  This is everything to take care of the disposition of the deceased, complete all the necessary paperwork and return the cremated remains to the family.

Arrange an affordable cremation for $995

Contact your nearest DFS Memorials provider to arrange a low-cost cremation or burial.

Cremation $995    Traditional Funeral (with casket) $3,995

Toll-free (855) 218-5473

Central Tennessee (931) 219-2701

Chattanooga (423) 207-2142

East Tennessee (731) 207-0737

Knoxville (865) 264-8399

Memphis (901) 207-8564

Nashville (615) 236-8763

Conducting your own memorial funeral services

Conducting your own memorial services is a simple way to save on funeral costs.  This is especially more easy to do when a cremation has been performed and friends and family are gathering together to remember their loved one who has passed.

Holding a service with a cremation urn present, to scatter cremated remains in a special place, or even without any remains present but just to pay tribute, can be very affordable and exceptionally personal.  You do not necessarily need the services of an officiate if family members feel comfortable saying a few words and leading a ceremony.

The ceremony can be held anywhere, it does not have to be in a funeral home or a chapel.  These days memorable and special tributes are held at golf clubs, community centers, in parks or anywhere outdoors.

Making your own memorial tributes

Making your own memorial tributes for a funeral can help you to save on the costs for things such as floral tributes, prayer cards, a memory board, memorial candles and bookmarks.  Read ‘How to create your own memorial tributes’.

Performing a cremation ash-scattering ceremony in Tennessee

The scattering of cremated remains is gaining popularity as more families choose cremation but do not really know what to do with the cremation ashes.  An ash-scattering ceremony in some of the beautiful countryside of Tennessee can be a perfect tribute and final resting-place for someone who loved their state.

The deceased had no life insurance, and we cannot afford a funeral, what help is there?

Sadly there is very little ‘free’ money to help families with funeral costs.  The level of financial assistance for low-income families with funeral costs varies by state, and indeed county, across the US.  Many county departments are cutting their budgets for funeral assistance and indigent burials.    You do need to find out if you are eligible and qualify for this support.  You would need to contact your local county Human Services to find out more.

There is also the $255 Social Security lump sum death benefit payment (if eligible) and your funeral director will generally help you to claim this.


Funeral Kiosks: Puts a whole new meaning to Shop Til You Drop!

funerals-shopping-mallFunerals have been given some more media coverage this week as the story hit the news about a funeral company in California that had opened up funeral kiosks in shopping malls.  Of course, this coverage of funeral planning is not bad news, it does draw to the public’s attention the notion of pre-purchasing a funeral, a casket or even a cemetery plot or cremation niche!

The shopping mall today is our new religion and where many of us congregate in our leisure time – a funeral IS a purchase, so why not open outlets in shopping malls?  Til We Meet Again, a custom casket and cremation urn retailer started opening locations in malls some time ago and now operates locations in four states.

It seems culturally we find the idea of funerals being sold in malls distasteful and I wonder why!  Forest Lawn, the Californian company now operating funeral kiosks, claim the mall is a much ‘happier’ place for people to reflect on their end of life wishes.

Interestingly The Consumerist asked readers to vote for where they would rather purchase funeral arrangements.  The results were:

  • Online 45.89%
  • At a funeral home 43.29%
  • At a shopping mall 10.82%

So it certainly seems that the mall is not the location many of us would choose to make our funeral arrangements.

Funerals have always been regarded as difficult to market.  A funeral is a purchase that everyone will need, yet no one wants to think about!  According to the executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association “Funeral planning is something everybody knows they must do, but at the same time it’s something nobody wants to do.”

Our grandparents were of the generation that did take out burial insurance or set up a funeral plan with the local funeral home.  But as we have become a more mobile population, and a culture more interested in the now and instant gratification, there has been less interest in ensuring our final wishes are prepared for.

The fact that the largest majority would prefer to purchase funeral arrangements online is surely a reflection of how our times are changing!  Many of the funeral providers we work with are now offering online funeral planning arrangements.  Some cremation providers even offer complete online cremation arrangement so there is no need to visit a funeral home!

To find out more about making cremation arrangements online, visit your local DFS Memorials provider.

How to preplan a direct cremation

direct-cremation-planAt DFS Memorials we are frequently asked about preplanning a direct cremation.  The cremation rate continues to grow, and more Americans are becoming interested in cremation as a less expensive funeral alternative.  A direct cremation offers the most inexpensive funeral option.  It is when the cremation is performed as immediately as possible following the death, with no formal service conducted.  The cremated remains are then returned back to the family, or are scattered.

How much will a direct cremation plan cost?

A direct cremation will ordinarily cost anywhere between $495 and $1395, depending on where you live.  Additional charges are such things as death certificates and permits.  A direct cremation generally includes a temporary container for the cremated remains, but you can choose to add an urn to your pre-planned cremation package.

How do I set up a direct cremation plan?

If you are seeking to pre-plan a direct cremation the easiest way to do it is to make arrangements directly with a funeral home or cremation society.  Each state has its own licensing laws on preneed funeral contracts.  Each DFS Memorials member can offer a pre-planned cremation licensed according to the statures in their state.

What prepayment plans are available?

There are various options for prepayment. Most cremation companies will ask for full payment at the time of setting up the direct cremation plan, however, you may be able to make arrangements direct with a local cremation provider to arrange a payment plan.  Cremation societies and memorial societies generally request a membership fee to be paid upfront.

Pre-planning a direct cremation enables you to plan ahead, save your family both the emotional and financial burden, and lock into a low cost cremation price today.   Planning ahead enables you to carefully compare and review cremation providers, finding the best direct cremation package for you.  It saves family the grief and stress of trying to locate the right cremation service at the time of need.

Locate your nearest DFS Memorials cremation provider today – Arrange your low cost direct cremation plan and give your family peace of mind!

[Sara Marsden] Google+