What is a 'direct cremation' and why are more people choosing one instead of a funeral?

More people are opting for direct cremations where friends and family do not take part in funerals Credit: PA

More people are choosing 'direct cremations' instead of funerals following concerns traditional ceremonies are becoming 'eye-wateringly' expensive.

Reverend Peter Cook, from Hanham Baptist Church in Bristol, is one of those concerned funerals can be unaffordable, often costing thousands of pounds.

The Bristol vicar has been a minister for 30 years and has done hundreds of funerals.

He says more people are opting for unattended funerals or direct cremations, which are not witnessed by family and friends, because of how much they cost.

However, he believes funerals are an important way for people to grieve, providing a 'cathartic' and 'healing' process for those saying goodbye to their loved ones.

Rev Cook told ITV News West Country: "The thing I dislike about funerals is the expenses that people are involved in. Most of the funerals I do are with people who we are in contact with so we don't charge them.

"But you're talking £3,000 or £4,000 for a basic funeral which is an incredible amount, especially if you are not prepared for it and especially in the current economic crisis.

Reverend Peter Cook says funerals are an important way for people to grieve

"It is eye-wateringly expensive."

He says people should be allowed the space to grieve, without having to spend thousands.

He said: "It's part of a mental health process, and it is a pity it costs so much to be able to go through that in a healthy way.

"During Covid when people had very limited funerals and could not meet the wider community, there was a real difficulty in processing for many people."

The increase in popularity of unattended funerals over the past few years is a trend funeral directors have also noticed.

Louise Constable owns and runs Brunel Independent Funeral Directors in Bristol, and has been in the industry for 40 years. The company did around 175 funerals last year.

She says their prices are not designed to make huge profits, but more people are opting for direct cremations.

Louise said: "As time is moving on and prices are going up, people are becoming more and more aware of shopping around and looking, not necessarily for the best deal, but for a realistic price that they can afford.

"Especially over the past few years, since Covid, people are more and more aware of it.

"The direct cremations, when they first came out I thought 'this will never work' but I was completely taken aback because it does have a place, it has a big place now.

"There's a lot of it where the deceased has requested it before they passed away because they feel they don't want to put the burden on their families for the cost of the funeral."