Direct Cremations are becoming more and more popular.
If you’re not sure what a “direct cremation is”, it’s where there is no funeral service, just a cremation and very few, if any, mourners. While it provides a simple and cost-effective solution, I always find the families I work with are left a bit “adrift”. It’s like when part of a song is playing in your brain, going around and around, yet never coming to a satisfying or uplifting, conclusion. I strongly feel some marking, some acknowledgement of the amazing rite of passage is needed. A rite of passage not only for the deceased but also for the family is incredibly important. I always say to families “funerals aren’t just for the dead; they are for those they leave behind”. A direct cremation does however mean you can choose your own way to remember someone at a place and time that suits you.
So, if our loved one has chosen, as is absolutely their choice, a “direct cremation” how can I support the family?
As a Celebrant I can conduct a lovely pre-cremation service at their or a family members home, or at a local venue. It might be in a garden, or a village hall or even at a local hotel. An intimate affair where we remember together. Share anecdotes, memories, and stories. It doesn’t have to be large or extravagant (unless that’s what you would like!). And it’s a perfect comfortable setting for any children to attend and can help them come to terms with the loss of their loved one.
In the service I often include a light-hearted and beautiful ritual called “the portmanteau”.
The ritual asks everyone to bring a small gift for the loved one (note: it must be combustible so no metal/stones etc) examples might be paper hearts; chocolate coins; rose petal confetti; a food item; or pictures, either hand-drawn or printed. Something that speaks to the giver of their loved one.
The gifts are all placed in a beautiful piece of cloth (usually in the loved one’s favourite colour) and we gently and respectfully tie it all up into a bundle and place it on a bamboo spindle. A little bit like Dick Whittington’s bag! The bag is symbolic of all our love for the loved one and accompanies them on the next stage of their journey. Children especially understand the symbolism of this. This is then placed with the loved one, in or on their casket when they go to be cremated.
Sometimes a direct cremation happens very quickly after the loved one has passed so the service can also be carried out after the cremation. A ceremonial burning of the bag following the direct cremation with everyone participating in that part too can also be a lovely cleansing and uplifting option.
So, if you would like to discuss your or a loved one’s options for a funeral or memorial service, or in fact any kind of ceremony then please don’t hesitate to contact me for an informal and confidential chat.