Cremation services: standard
versus direct

Which cremation service is the right choice for you? Find out in this guide or learn more about traditional and standard cremations by contacting our knowledgeable team.

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When you lose someone close, it may be that the last thing you want to think about is cremation services. You may be in two minds about whether you want to attend the person’s funeral, or you may have a clear personal desire, but you might also want to respect their final wishes – even if arranging their funeral would then involve some difficult decisions. That’s before you start to consider all the paperwork and legal matters requiring your attention. 

At Freeman Brothers, our sole purpose is to make the process simple and stress-free – leaving you time to grieve. 

To help you make an informed decision, we thought it would be helpful to compare attended and direct cremation services. If you have any questions by the end of this guide do get in touch. 

Standard cremation services

You may think that cremation services need always to follow the same pattern: the hearse conveys the deceased person to the crematorium where family members and friends share significant music, deliver eulogies and (if desired) take part in religious ceremonies. 

When the service ends, the coffin remains at the crematorium, sometimes disappearing behind a curtain, and the cremation happens after the mourners have departed. Later, the ashes are returned to a nominated individual – or can be collected at a convenient time. 

This type of service is what we, in the funeral service industry, refer to as an ‘attended cremation’, but there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to cremation: even within this model, there are myriad variations depending on the family’s wishes. 

Direct cremation services 

Direct cremation is different. Instead of holding a service in the crematorium chapel, goodbyes are said elsewhere and the ceremony is completed without family or friends in attendance. 

Would your friend or family member want to be ‘sent off’ this way? To answer this question, it’s important to understand all the facts surrounding direct cremations, which is a service now commonly provided by funeral directors. 

Your questions answered

Can I attend the cremation? 

You must say your farewells somewhere other than the crematorium, for example at a memorial service or in the funeral director’s chapel of rest. Doing it this way may be less upsetting – but you could also regret your decision later if you’re not certain it’s what you or the deceased person really wants. Why not talk the matter through with close friends and family first, taking time to gather opinions and reflect on all the options available to you? 

Can I view the person who has died first? 

We understand how important this is – which is why our cremation services can be customised to let you say goodbye one final time. This is not the case with all funeral directors. 

What arrangements can I make? 

Again, much of this is within your control. Even if you don’t intend to be part of the ceremony, you may have strong ideas about what aspects are important. For example, though we would typically use a hearsette for a direct cremation, which is smaller than a traditional hearse and shaped like a normal family car, you might choose to upgrade to a hearse so that the coffin and flowers can be seen from the roadside. Similarly, you might choose to have a full team of staff in attendance to ensure the coffin can be carried into the crematorium.

Can I still have a service? 

Although you won’t be saying goodbye at the time of the cremation, commemorating the deceased person is important. A get-together with friends and family at home, or somewhere that evokes happy memories, could help you cope at a difficult time. 

When will the cremation happen? 

Unless it is of particular importance to you, we won’t specify when as some people prefer not to know, but we’ll do our best to accommodate your request. If there’s a significant time or date (such as a birthday or anniversary) you’d like to commemorate or avoid, please let us know. 

When is a direct cremation the right choice for me? 

Sometimes, a direct cremation service is the right choice. Here are five examples: 

  1. The deceased person directly requested it and their family was happy to comply with this request.
  2. A proportion of close friends and family are unable to attend a funeral in the short term and it feels wrong to hold a service without them.
  3. You would prefer not to spend money on items and services more commonly associated with an attended service.
  4. Because the deceased person’s friends and relatives live overseas.
  5. Depending on the circumstances of death, it may be less traumatic for those left behind.

Direct cremation services: how it all works 

If you decide to go down the route of an unattended cremation service, what should you expect? We’d like to start by reassuring you that the process is designed to minimise stress to you and your loved ones. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. We’ll ask you for basic information about the person who has died, including their date of birth and address.
  2. At an appropriate time, we’ll take them into our care at a branch local to where the funeral will be arranged. (You can tell us which of our four branches is likely to be most convenient for you.)
  3. You’ll need to complete some paperwork, but we’ll be there to help.

Why you should trust Freeman Brothers 

We’re a friendly team of independent funeral directors who’ve been serving the Sussex community since 1855. We offer a range of tailored cremation services for secular, non-religious ceremonies as well as all religious denominations and beliefs. 

We’ll help you throughout the funeral planning process, offering our expert advice along the way. We understand that funeral arrangement decisions are deeply personal and unique to every family. There are no ‘right’ decisions, only ones that are best for you and your family. Please contact us with any questions or requests. We’d be happy to help. 

We have offices in Horsham, Billingshurst, Crawley, and Hurstpierpoint. See more bereavement advice and information or read about planning a funeral.


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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

April 27, 2022

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