To put it simply, direct burials are nothing new in the UK. They have been around – like direct cremations – for many years, primarily so that people can receive a no-frills funeral without the costs associated with a traditional service. The original idea was that people who had very little money left in their estate would be able to receive a funeral that meets the legal requirements for disposing of a body in an as cost-effective manner as possible. Although direct burials are a bit more expensive than direct cremations, some people prefer them on religious grounds or because they don’t want to add to their carbon footprint after death by having their remains incinerated.
What is new, however, is the recent rise in interest in direct burials. So, although direct funerals which include interments may not be the latest, most on-trend type of service, they are becoming more and more popular. Why is this?
To begin with, the social restrictions that were introduced throughout the UK – and much of the rest of the world – during the coronavirus pandemic meant that very few mourners were allowed to attend burial services for some time. Therefore, people tended to opt for ultra-simple services and direct burials instead, putting off the reunion of family and friends to celebrate the life of the deceased until it could be arranged. During this time, many people learned that a direct burial was, in fact, the sort of arrangement they wanted and have, therefore, changed their funeral plans to have one, even though no social restrictions are in place any longer.
Of course, people could also start to change their minds and revert back to more traditional funerals in time. From the standpoint of 2022, however, direct funerals look set to be around in larger numbers for some considerable time to come. What’s driving this trend if it isn’t all to do with the pandemic?
The answer, according to industry experts Newrest Funerals, boils down to changing social trends in the UK. Although cremations still outweigh burials, more people are choosing funeral services that are non-religious. About 58% of people want the tone of their funeral to be changed and would encourage a celebration of life service instead of a traditional funeral. Since these tend to be staged well after burial and opting for a direct funeral makes sense in such circumstances.
In addition, direct funerals are much, much cheaper than traditional ones. With disbursements, they can still run to several thousand pounds, however. Today about 12% of British people would say they’d be happy to ask for donations to cover the costs of a funeral. That’s a significant proportion, of course, but opting for one of the lowest cost options available instead still seems to be preferable when money is tight. Only about a third of people say that they want a traditional service nowadays, too. Coupled with the fact that 42% of people want their family to spend as little money as possible, it is easy to see why direct burials have become such a favoured option in recent years.