Understanding Direct Cremation: What is a direct cremation?

We are all becoming more familiar with cremation these days as the cremation rate increases in the U.S. and more people opt for cremation as a disposition alternative to a burial.  But people are not yet familiar with the term ‘direct cremation’.

What is a Direct Cremation?

A direct cremation sometimes referred to as an immediate cremation, is when a cremation is performed with minimal services from a funeral home and no service is conducted.  It is what is known in the funeral trade as a very basic cremation disposition.

The deceased is collected directly from the place of death and transported to the funeral home and/or crematory, the necessary documentation is completed, the mandatory waiting period passes and the deceased is cremated.  The cremated remains are returned to the family within 3-7 days.

Many funeral homes package a direct cremation offering and glamorize it with such names as A Simple Tribute, A Family Farewell, A Simple Goodbye, The Legacy Farewell, & Simply Farewell.  These names all symbolize a minimal service, minimal fuss disposition package – something many of us are opting for today!

Saving money on the cost of a casket

direct-cremation-costFor the purposes of the cremation, a basic cremation container is used to house the deceased’s body.  This is all that is legally required and a suitable “rigid, combustible” container is most often a sturdy cardboard container.  This means that no casket is required and eliminates the expense of purchasing a casket.  This alone saves around $1,000 – $4,000 in basic costs for the disposition.

If you did wish to have a brief family viewing before the cremation process, a funeral home can usually facilitate this using a rental casket or even a bed laid out in a viewing room.

The most affordable funeral option

A direct cremation can be considered one of the most inexpensive and affordable cremation options.  As only the minimal services of a funeral director are required and substitute funeral merchandise can be used, costs can be kept lower.  The cremated remains are generally returned to the family in a temporary cremation container, which can be a cardboard or plastic urn.  Of course, the family can opt to upgrade and select a wooden or ceramic urn if desired for an additional cost.   Some funeral homes serving families with direct cremations even offer to carry out an ash scattering or sea scattering these days for a small nominal fee.

What documentation must be completed legally before a cremation can be performed?

In order for any cremation to be performed a ‘Cremation Authorization Form‘ must be completed and signed by the legal next of kin.  A cremation permit must be obtained from the local county, and in some states, the coroner must sign the cremation permit.  This is largely to ensure there is no suspect reason why a body should not be cremated destroying all physical evidence.

There is a mandatory waiting period in all states before a cremation can be performed.  In most states this is 24-hours, but there are a number of states where a 48-hour mandatory waiting period must be observed.

Part 2 : How much does a direct cremation cost?

53 thoughts on “Understanding Direct Cremation: What is a direct cremation?

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  51. I need Services . Basic Direct .

    Brother Died a Month ago and have been unable to contact any one in the City ., Net or Phone . Even You . Everything just cuts out consistently .
    John Albert Martin – Cauc – 61 yr .

    Could You Please start the Papers Flowing ? Consider this Authorization from Next of Kin , Stan Martin .

    Kindly contact Me with further Instructions .

    Thank You – S.E. Martin


    • Hello Stan,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. Where is your brother located? So, I can establish if we have a basic cremation service provider to refer you to?

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