This week I completed my third year in my new and undeniably best-ever profession, the role of a funeral celebrant. I have created and performed well over one hundred and fifty traditional funeral services and some fifty or so memorials and celebrations of life.
These experiences have caused me to re-evaluate the choices before us today; direct cremation vs traditional funeral ceremony. I have been surprised by the feelings this subject has brought up in me.
Direct Cremation vs Traditional Funeral Ceremony
I have always thought that a direct cremation would be something I would like for myself; no attenders or mourners, no procession, no soulful words or music. Cheaper option. Perhaps have a party later and spend the money on people having fun in my name, I would muse.
But my own personal experiences have led to something of a change of heart. Yes of course, there can be no doubt that this type of process is much more affordable at around £1,000 than a standard service which can cost over £4,000, but are we cheating ourselves when we choose this option? Are we denying ourselves the opportunities a traditional cremation gives us, to gather together in grief and support one another, for example?
I have also found that funeral services can bring together families whose relationships have broken down or who rarely are in touch because they live so far apart. Surely the value of this renewal of kinship is something we should take into account?
I often conduct celebrations of life or memorials for people who have already been cremated. The ashes are then present and we put a beautiful framed portrait photo next to the urn; perhaps some flowers, candles, in fact, whatever the family wants.
But I have found it interesting that for some reason the general atmosphere is different. It doesn’t feel like a ‘send-off’ for someone who has died. Of course, it isn’t, they have already been cremated so they have effectively gone from the proceedings.
I can say with some conviction that the traditional services I have conducted over the past three years have felt to me far more personal and comforting, almost as though the departed person is literally present.
I feel a sense that the soul of the person is there, hearing the tributes and outpourings of love and soaking up the supportive, caring vibe in the chapel.
Much scientific research has been conducted over the years, analysing the benefits of funerals and some interesting conclusions have been reached. One finding indicates that having a direct cremation is not beneficial for the mental health of the bereaved and can cause complex grief complications in the future which clearly isn’t a good thing for anyone on any level.
It has also been proven that rituals are very meaningful in encouraging people to ‘accept or release’ complex emotions.’ In other words, these traditions and ceremonies have been popularised for a reason.
I am in no doubt that choosing a good funeral director, someone who truly understands and empathises and has all the time the family might need is key to acceptance and healing.
Contact me directly if you would like informed help in making your choices.