A few years ago not long after Oak Funeral Services had been created, we were asked if we could provide a “Direct Cremation” service for a family, as they’d seen an advert by a company in London but were struggling to find something similar locally.
It didn’t seem to be an unreasonable request and we were more than pleased to help make the arrangements as requested. Although a direct cremation was certainly not a new idea, there seemed to be a real lack of a regional service in the south west for families who didn’t want a traditional crematorium service but just wanted to meet Dad’s wishes.
A simple no fuss, no bells and whistles cremation and for the ashes to come back to the family afterwards so that they could hold their own small memorial in the beauty of the Quantock Hills and scatter his ashes there.
About a month later, another family came to us with a very similar request and we arranged with the crematorium to do the same, this time returning the ashes to the family in a beautiful woodland scene scatter tube.
It seemed to be that there was a growing and unmet need for families that didn’t want or need the formality of a traditional funeral, together with the ever escalating costs of a standard crematorium service. So many times we’ve been sitting with a bereaved family and they’ve told us that Mum didn’t want any fuss and had always told them “just put me in a box and take me to the crematorium”.
As everyone is aware these days, the cost of even a simple no frills cremation service at the crematorium is escalating yearly with very few FD’s offering any funerals below £2,500. And yet so many people expressly tell their families that they don’t want them to waste their money on a big ‘do’ when they go.
When you are released from the constraints of a 20 minute crematorium chapel service and keeping one eye on the clock – aware that the next Hearse has probably already arrived and is waiting outside for their turn. You can create something so much more personal that is built and designed around the person who has died, as well as helping to create a ceremony that the bereaved family and friends will remember and treasure. Something that has so much more meaning and provides a memory to be treasured rather than endured.
Over the last few years we’ve helped to hold some beautiful memorial gatherings in some fantastic settings. From a sunset scattering on the top of Exmoor, to a champagne picnic on the cliffs, a simple woodland interment to a private family farewell party in a back garden.
To keep everything simple and to try and remove some of the confusion from the convoluted pricing common to so many Funeral Directors, we decided to offer a simple Direct Cremation for a fixed cost. No hidden charges, no added disbursements. Just £1200 fully inclusive.
For many families this is all that is needed, someone to ‘undertake’ the cremation process for them whilst they come to terms with their loss. For others, we can help them to design and create a memorial gathering or a family farewell, together with a suitable celebrant or minister at a time that is right for them from only £1500.
Once we have been instructed to carry out a Direct Cremation, we arrange all the paperwork either in person or via recorded delivery and keep the family fully informed as we go. We always make sure that everyone knows the date and time the cremation will take place so that they can just be still for a moment and send their thoughts or prayers if they wish. And we’ll always follow up with a phone call the same day to let the bereaved know that everything went well and to talk about returning the ashes if required.
So many people feel that being an Undertaker or Funeral Director is all about working wit the dead, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. The body’s that come into our care are treated with the same respect and dignity as any living person. Yet our focus and reason for being here is to care for and support those that remain behind. The family and loved ones who are facing one of the most intense and traumatic periods in their lives.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
To know that even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived
This is to have succeeded.
Article by Jonathan Mees and Ian Hope
Oak Funeral Services
South West Cremations
This article was orginally published in More to Death, the official magazine to The Natural Death Centre.