Everyone would have seen the adverts on the TV for direct, unattended cremations.

Large companies that have set up camp offering to carry out the cremation privately and return cremated remains to the families – in the post usually.

Direct, non-attended cremations tend to interest those who want to separate the disposal of the deceased from the celebration or funeral service. This maybe for financial reasons (would rather leave the money in the estate for the family than spend on an elaborate send off) or may be just because the idea of people standing at the crematorium and talking about them for 30 minutes just does not appeal to them.

Respectful, compassionate and dignified farewell without the high price tag.

When Sarah and Lel first opened, Pure Cremation was a relatively new offering to families. Their adverts all over the TV made people realise there was another option to funerals.

Lel and Sarah offered a direct, non-attended cremation in Somerset using the services of Pure Cremation and many families took this option, keeping their loved one local and with all female care but the difference at that time was that Sarah and Lel insisted on hand delivering the cremated remains back to the families. Other funeral directors were aghast. It was thought of as disrespectful, uncaring  etc (other FD’s realised there was no profit in other words and therefore would not be offering such a service)

Unattended Direct Cremations post Covid

Fast forward to Covid and all of the restrictions to funerals this entailed. The heartache families endured as their carefully planned funerals dwindled from elaborate cars and flowers to no family members being present. Suddenly, the non-attended cremations and burials were all that funeral directors could offer – and the TV adverts starting appearing a lot more frequently.

Funeral Directors had to move with the times and realised that non-attended cremations were not disappearing any time soon. All of a sudden they were fighting for the lowest prices, price matching everyone else – and suddenly a direct cremation did not seem so “disrespectful” as they realised that if they did not offer this option, they had a real chance of closing their doors.

So what is a direct cremation? 

It entails us caring for the deceased as we would always, supporting the family with paperwork, holding chapel visits (if desired) Families can choose the day cremation takes place and on that chosen day, Sarah and Lel take the deceased in their coffin to our local crematorium (Sedgemoor, Somerset) at either 8am or 8.30am  and very respectfully place the coffin into the crematorium chapel, bow, curtains close and we walk away. Cremation takes place during that day and cremated remains are returned to the family within a matter of days or we look after them until the family wish to collect them.

Coffin- less Cremations?

In 2012 a lovely lady came to see us. She was terminally ill and the thought of being placed in a coffin, with the lid screwed down, terrified her to the extent that this thought was overpowering her daily life and she needed us to help come up with another option.

The casket and coffin industry traces its roots back to ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamia. where wood, cloth and paper were used to make sarcophagus-style burial boxes. In Europe, the Celts began making caskets out of flat stones around the year 700. However, for centuries, caskets were only used to bury aristocrats and nobility. In fact, the french were the first to coin the term “coffin” taken from the Greek term meaning basket.

In the UK, we use coffins to respectfully contain the body of the deceased. To keep it from view and to make sure it can be transported safely and securely. From civil wars where hundreds and thousands of bodies needed to be transported, the american’s devised the design of the coffins that we use today.

Traditionally coffins are made from wood or mdf with a veneer wrap made to look like a solid oak coffin. As times have moved forward, companies offering cardboard coffins printed with pictorials or pretty woodland scenes – eco-friendly and when dear old Hayley died on Coronation Street and she was cremated in a very pretty cardboard coffin, suddenly ,lots of people sat up and said ” I want one of those”.

Sadly, these types of cardboard coffins are delivered in more cardboard and wrappings to us that make us wonder just how eco-friendly they are?  Then there are woollen coffins that look warm and cosy and even  families that make coffins from Aldi boxes (yes, we have done a few of those) Suddenly, people began to think “outside the box”. Hurrah!

Going back, our lovely lady needed our assistance and so we held a meeting with the manager at Taunton crematorium. How could we organise a coffin-less cremation?

Here’s the important factor: When a coffin is placed in the cremator, it is called “charging the coffin”. If you imagine the heat of the cremator and the member of staff that charges the coffin into it – their safety is paramount. It also needed to be something that was sturdy, that kept the deceased safely onboard but also respectful to the people coming along to the crematorium to pay their respects – not everyone wants to see the outline of the body of their loved one in plain view.

So we designed a charging board. We went to B and Q and purchased suitable wood and we made it to her size, with charging boards each end,  just as the crematorium advised. The lady then chose her favourite duvet cover and when the time came, the family came and wrapped her  in her duvet and secured her to the board. It was kind of a light bulb moment for us. Why have we not done this sooner?

This was back in 2012 and since then, we have designed the perfect board and perfected the technique. Many, many people just do not realise it is an option. Sarah (who is very claustrophobic herself) knows this is the way she will be going when the time comes.

We offer two types of board: the wooden which we make ourselves (or families can make it) or the willow carrier which is made for us on the levels.

Shroud - direct cremations Somerset

Families can choose their own coverings: duvets, sheets – one lady made her own patchwork quilt which was rather beautiful.

If you want to chat further, give us a call. We love doing things a little differently and we promise, any suggestions you make, we will try our best to fulfil them.

01278 664 400