What Is the Difference Between Cremation and Direct Cremation?

Metal urn at a funeral

There are several cremation options available depending on your needs. Understanding the difference between a traditional cremation and direct cremation can help you decide which choice is right for you or your loved one.

What Is the Difference Between Cremation and Direct Cremation?

The difference between a traditional cremation and a direct cremation is that a traditional cremation will have more time in between the death of an individual and the cremation versus a direct cremation, which takes place much sooner after an individual passes away.

What Is Meant by Direct Cremation?

With a direct cremation, the body is not prepared and is taken immediately, or as soon as possible, to the crematorium after an individual passes away. With direct cremation:

  • The cost is often lower than a traditional cremation.
  • The body is not embalmed or prepared in any way.
  • The body is not dressed for a memorial service, viewing, or funeral service.
  • Transportation from the place of death to the crematorium is arranged.
  • Appropriate paperwork is filed for the death certificate and consent for cremation.
  • The body is cremated in a lower cost vessel versus a casket.
  • If wanted, the family of the deceased can plan a memorial service, ash scattering ceremony, or urn burial after the direct cremation.

How Long Does a Direct Cremation Take?

With a direct cremation, the body is either taken immediately from the location of the passing to the crematorium or is held for a few days at the funeral home if the crematorium is booked or unavailable immediately. With a traditional cremation, organizing a viewing and/or service can take up to two weeks after the individual has passed away, meaning that the cremation may take place over a week after the death.

What Is the Cheapest Way to be Cremated?

There are two options when it comes to low cost cremations. Direct cremation is significantly cheaper than a typical cremation because there aren't any body preparations that take place before the cremation. If the body is donated to science, cremation will be free of charge.

Woman with Funeral Urn

Four Types of Cremation

Understanding the different cremation options can help you make an informed decision. Cremation options include:

  • Cremation with body donation to science: free cremation
  • Cremation and memorial service: will pay for body preparations (cleaning, embalming, dressing), the service, as well as the cremation, and can take place a few days to two weeks after the death
  • Cremation and funeral service: will pay for body preparations (cleaning, embalming, dressing), as well as the funeral service and can take place a few days to two weeks after the death
  • Direct cremation: no body preparations and pay solely for the cremation, which takes place soon after the passing

What Is Private Cremation?

Private cremation refers to an individual being cremated in a private chamber (retort), versus a shared chamber. This can also apply to pets that have passed away as well who are being cremated.

Cost of Cremation

In general, a traditional cremation can cost a little above $2,000, but prices will vary depending on included services. Keep in mind, the cost of cremation will not include the cost of the funeral service, memorial service, and/or urn burial. Direct cremation costs around $500 to $1,000.

Prepaid Direct Cremation

A prepaid direct cremation is typically organized through a funeral home and is a way to pay for a direct cremation in advance. Included services will vary depending on the funeral home, but in general, the body's transportation is arranged and the cremation takes place shortly after the individual passes away. Ashes are returned to the deceased individual's loved ones shortly after the cremation.

Free Cremation

If an individual chooses to donate their body to science, a free cremation is included after the research has been completed, and the ashes are returned to the family within a few weeks.

Understanding Different Cremation Options

There are various cremation options to choose from. Understanding the different types can give you a better understanding of included services, as well as cost. If you're interested in a lower cost cremation option, direct cremation may be a good choice to explore.

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What Is the Difference Between Cremation and Direct Cremation?