Co-op Funeralcare has announced the launch of a new direct cremation service that slashes funeral costs for people who do not want a traditional send off.
With direct cremation, the deceased is cremated shortly after death with no family members or friends present. The ashes are then returned to loved ones once the process is completed.
This type of cremation is growing in popularity and has been bought into the mainstream by celebrities including musician David Bowie and novelist Anita Brookner.
Co-op’s service, which is called Cremation Without Ceremony costs £1,395 (or £1,230 in Scotland). Although this is less than half the cost of a traditional funeral, the Co-op says the driving force for this type of send-off is not always cost. By not including a service in the funeral package, mourners are free to mark the deceased’s passing as they so wish – through a memorial service, a family gathering or scattering ashes in a cherished place.
The package includes transportation of the body, help with paperwork, doctors’ fees and a simple coffin. Ashes can be collected or scattered in a garden of remembrance. However, hand delivery of ashes costs an additional £95.
During 2017, Co-op says 80% of funerals were by cremation and that during trials of the new service the number of customers opting for direct cremation rose from 5.8% to 12.5% over a six-month period.
In the US, 32% of all cremations are now direct, according to Co-op.
Commenting on the launch, Caroline Jones, head of propositions for Co-op Funeralcare and Later Life Planning says: “We’ve seen an increased demand for this simpler service and our priority is always to do right by the families in our care. We’re expecting the demand for this offering to continue to rise, by introducing Cremation Without Ceremony we’re ensuring that we’re offering choices to families when the time comes to say goodbye.’’
The Co-op says: "The organ donor process happens before any funeral arrangements are made, so you can choose any funeral plan including cremation without ceremony."