A mother has said she doesn’t want a funeral so her children can go on holiday. Janet Jones, 70, from Norfolk is considering whether or not to book a direct cremation for herself and her husband when they die rather than a traditional funeral.
Janet and her husband, Chris, have worked all their lives in a GP surgery and a factory respectively.
Janet told the BBC: “We’ve worked all our lives and we want our children to have that money to do something to remember us in their own way.” She said she wants them to go on holiday and have a drink to celebrate their lives.
Janet’s daughter, Bridie, isn’t convinced. She said: “Because of their age I thought they would go down a traditional route.
“There are so many people who love them who want to say goodbye properly. They are so selfless and they don’t want us to be burdened with massive funeral costs. It’s what they want and I have to respect that and accept it. I just need to get my head around it.”
READ MORE: Grieving UK families face cost-of-dying rises for traditional funerals
Janet is one of a growing number of people choosing direct cremations over more traditional funerals.
Direct cremations are the cheapest form of funeral; there is no funeral service. Instead, the body is cremated without a service and the ashes are either scattered or sent to the family.
They grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the end of lockdowns has not slowed their growth.
Funeral directors say the cost-of-living crisis, and demand for more affordable services, has driven the trend. Direct cremations now account for around 18 percent of all funerals according to insurer SunLife. They added that average funeral costs were £4,056 last year compared with just £1,647 for direct cremations.
In some cases, family members have not been happy with their loved one’s wish to have a direct cremation.
When Esther O’Brien found out her terminally ill father David had booked a direct cremation, she asked him to cancel it. He had told her he didn’t want to burden his family with arranging a funeral.
However, this was no problem for Esther and David duly canceled the cremation. She said the extra cost of the funeral “didn’t matter to me”. David later died at the age of 74 and had a traditional funeral.
Esther added: “The funeral isn’t actually for the person who died, but for loved ones left behind as part of the process. It meant we could say goodbye properly.”
Funeral director Frances Alcock has different concerns. She worries more companies are starting up which have little experience of funerals.
She said: “My biggest concern is the lack of support for the family members who are trying to grieve.
“It worries me that there might be unresolved grief with these direct cremations bought online. It’s really important that people understand what direct cremations involve – you don’t get a chance to say goodbye unless you sort out your own service.
“I get phone calls because they are national firms looking to outsource parts of the business, like collecting the bodies from hospitals, and they are often transported across the country.”