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What Are the Differences Between Cremation and Burial?

Inevitably, there will come a time where we must choose between having a cremation or a burial, for ourselves or one of our loved ones. It might seem challenging to decide, and will always be a stressful and demanding time, which is why researching both options before making a final decision is wise.

Burials are often considered simpler than cremations, however modern cremation processes offer transparent services with close support at each step of the process. Traditional funerals involve a more extended memorial service for family and friends and can be modest or embellished as desired. In contrast, a direct cremation in the UK is usually designed to be a more intimate affair with a small number of mourners or sometimes can be fully unattended.

Attendees – The Main Difference Between Cremation and Burial

Traditionally, burial services follow a set structure, which is usually relatively short and does not offer much opportunity for personalisation. While this might not appeal to some, while for others, it can alleviate pressure when organising such an event and allow all attendees to pay their respects in a formal and honourable way.

A burial service requires the remaining family and friends to purchase a coffin, and there are many options available according to affordability or preference.

Cremations offer greater flexibility to family and friends, choosing to have a direct cremation or unattended cremation, where a memorial service is arranged at a later date; or a simple cremation where family and friends are present. This is the main difference between a direct cremation and a more traditional funeral service, with direct cremation services offering unattended services where the loved one being honoured is attended only by a chapel attendant. Or, a simple cremation where only an intimate number of mourners are in attendance.

For some, the idea of not attending a loved one’s service can be distressing, however for many families, a traditional funeral is either not accessible financially, or not the way that the family wants to celebrate their loved one. For these reasons, direct cremations can often provide a simplified but respectful option.

Alternatively, pre-paid cremations are available to remove any stress and worry from loved ones when the time comes. These are handled in much the same way as pre-paid funerals; however, organise a cremation service ahead of time to reduce the stress and burden of planning these services.

The Difference in Cost Between Funerals and Cremations

Other than the actions taken during the service, elements such as cost, preference, and safety may affect which option is chosen, especially during a pandemic.

Fees for a traditional funeral service and burial can include the cost of the coffin, cemetery plot, cremation, and funeral director charges, plus the brick-and-mortar costs associated with the funeral home itself.

A recent study into funeral costs showed that this figure is continuously rising, with the average cost of a basic funeral increasing by more than 9% in a year. The typical cost of a funeral in the UK is now £4,417, but burial fees are also rising.

In comparison, a direct cremation is significantly less, with some cremation services offered at half the cost of a funeral service from well-respected and transparent cremation providers.

And while speaking of financial aspects can be difficult, given that we want the best for our loved ones, more often than not finances are the main driving factor in choosing how to memorialise our family members.

Both burial and cremation services can be amended according to cost, though a direct cremation may be the best option if affordability is important.

Considering The Wishes of Your Loved One

Considering the wishes of the deceased or the remaining friends and family is also a significant factor. For example, if having an eco-friendly ceremony is essential, then perhaps a burial would be favourable, as a cremation event can be considered harmful to the environment.

On the contrary, if the family wishes to scatter the ashes in a special place, cremation may be most suitable. In some cases, the ashes can be made into jewellery so that loved ones can keep these in memory of the deceased.

Which Service Might Be Most Appropriate?

During a pandemic, it might be most appropriate to have a direct cremation with a memorial service held at a later date for family and friends. Burials must be conducted quickly, which might mean that loved ones are unable to attend the service due to limited numbers.

Of course, this depends on each individual’s feelings, and if the wishes of the deceased were specified before their passing, then it is right to honour this as best as possible in the current circumstances.

The difference between having a burial and cremation are quite significant. Although more are opting for a direct cremation in the UK due to current coronavirus restrictions, this doesn’t mean that other choices aren’t still available.

Whatever decision is made, the service can be beautiful and respectful, providing a warming final memory for family and friends.