Not only is the funeral industry having to accept that direct cremation is here to stay we now have direct burial.
The pioneer is our very own Gordon Tulley (green burial ground owner and shroud manufacturer) who is rolling the service out nationwide.
His new company is called Respect Direct Funeral Services and offers Express-Burials.
Just to recap, this is what is meant by a direct funeral:-
Direct funerals are a very, very basic service; essentially it is a funeral without a funeral. With direct cremation you have no choice over the time, date or even the crematorium where the cremation takes place. The funeral director simply collects the deceased, organises the paperwork, provides a basic coffin, books the crematorium at a time that is convenient for them and carries out the funeral.
The NDC helpline still receives more calls about this than anything else and a ‘Dear Claire’ letter in an over 50s magazine last year generated hundreds of calls. It certainly struck a chord with thousands of pragmatically minded readers.
“Well, our customers receive a quality, no-frills service but get great value for money at the same time. That’s what my new company is now offering nationally. Imagine, cremation from £999.00 and Burials from £1,495.00 nationally?
We utilise the wonderful network of Natural, Green Burial Grounds throughout the UK and like direct cremations these are burials without a funeral!
Those who book in advance or whose family and friends choose to send the body for burial either have no ceremony at all or hold a gathering at a more suitable time, in an evening or weekend, when all the family and friends can get together and also include the children.
This is not for everyone but we are amazed at the up-take. We started by fulfilling the wishes of a Doncaster man whose initial wish was to gift his body to science but when his time came Sheffield hospital did not accept the donation so his family chose an Express-Burial where he was simply and respectfully laid to rest in our Green Burial Park in South Yorkshire with no family or friends attending.
The wife and daughter were so satisfied with the way everything was handled they both pre booked their own burial plots alongside him and have ‘expressly’ wished to be buried in the same way with little or no fuss.
Alison Finch the sexton and administrator explained, “We don’t ever question or judge our customers who are choosing an express service but we find an amazing array of reasons why.
There are those seeking the least cost option as they are facing funeral poverty and just simply don’t want to get into debt. Sometimes we receive calls from the next of kin who are either ill with the likes of Bi-Polar disorder or acute agoraphobia and simply can’t face the stress of a funeral”.
We also have some customers who state, “He just wanted a simple burial / cremation no fuss, no fancy cars, no wasting of money or pomp and ceremony to impress the neighbours”.
One wife stated, ‘He was ill for such a long time and all those relatives never bothered to come and see him so why should he pay for a funeral just so they can gather at his expense?” We had one daughter who called this week who said “We would rather give a big cheque to the Hospice than have a funeral. I’m just too stressed to organise a funeral for a group of 95 year-olds and so we will have a lovely memorial luncheon in mom’s favourite hotel just as she wanted”
Some of the other widely differing reasons people choose Express Burials:-
They are the last remaining person with no relatives and all friends have passed away.
Their executor was instructed to carry out the funeral at the least cost to the estate.
The deceased and immediate family are all non-religious and felt no need for any ceremony. Some people believe the body is just a vessel once the spirit has left.
Others find Funeral Directors’ charges extortionately high and simply want a reasonably priced funeral.
On average Gordon’s price for burial is £1,495.00, compared to a national average of £3,590 according to the National Funeral Directors Association. That is a saving of £2,000!
Good independent funeral directors will also organise a direct burial and a couple of the natural burial sites offer a collection service, with the burial taking place at their convenience but Gordon and Alison are the only ones offering a coordinated, nationwide direct burial service.
How does it actually work?
“As an example, when we received a call from a gentleman near Penzance whose wife was undergoing intense treatment for a life limiting illness, he was wanting to book his own direct burial, as he expects to be the last surviving family member when his soul-mate’s time comes (she has already chosen cremation). He expressed his wish for a green burial in that region so we called those approved members in our organisation and pre-booked a plot for him with Sheridon of Atlantic Rest Green Burial Ground near Bude. We organised all the paperwork, contacted the Funeral Trust with whom we deposited the funeral plan monies. It is as simple as that.
When the time comes, we have funeral directing colleagues in that area who arrange the collection, wrapping of the deceased in one of our burial shrouds and transfer the deceased to the green cemetery The burial ground organise the grave digging and provide pallbearers”.
“This is how the process works and how one of our many pre bookings are organised. One other benefit of burial over cremation is that we do not need to pass on the compulsory doctors’ fee of £160 that is generally payable by families organising a cremation”.
So do you always bury someone in the area where they die?
“Not always. If they are the last remaining relative and have not expressed a wish to be buried locally, we would aim to bury them in one of our own burial parks. We have over 24,000 green burial plots available. If relatives or the deceased prefer the burial to be local and we can find a plot that costs below a certain price threshold then we liaise and organise the interment, as above, in a natural burial ground.
We have four fleets of removal vehicles / private ambulances at our disposal and hearses if so required. It’s been quite a task to set up the system. It is working well and we are enjoying coordinating with our colleagues and fellow natural burial site managers around the UK”.