Co-op offers ‘no frills’ cremation service

Courtesy of | By Rebecca Smithers | Originally Published 05.02.2018 | Posted 07.16.2018

The UK’s largest funeral director is to launch a no-frills cremation service in the next few weeks, amid changing attitudes to death and a shift towards celebratory gatherings rather than traditional funerals.

Co-op Funeralcare reports growing interest in direct cremations – a cheaper and more basic option than the normal service, with no mourners present, typically followed by a scattering of ashes or memorial service at a later date.

The plan is revealed as the Co-op prepares to hold a large-scale national study into dying in the UK, in an effort to break taboos around bereavement preparations and ensure the wishes of the deceased are followed.

The survey aims to engage with at least 20,000 adults over the next few weeks, as an initial poll by the Co-op showed 50% of respondents saying that more open conversations about death would have helped them cope with bereavement. The Co-op is working with a number of charities, including British Red Cross, Child Bereavement UK and Dying Matters, to find solutions.

“We know that talking about death is one of the hardest conversations people have to have and many choose to avoid it,” said David Collingwood, director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare. “But having to make lots of decisions under pressure can add to the stress and pain of bereavement. We would really encourage people to discuss or write down their wishes.”

Collingwood said many people did not ask for “direct cremations” because they were not aware they existed. But following the death of the musician David Bowie, there has been growing interest in this no-frills option. Bowie, who died in January 2016, was cremated with none of his family or friends present after telling his loved ones he did not want a funeral service (his ashes were scattered in Bali).

Co-op Funeralcare is the UK’s largest funeral director with a network of more than 1,000 funeral homes, which conduct almost 100,000 funerals each year. It is aiming to offer “direct cremation” for between £1,000 and £1,500. A standard funeral could cost between £2,500 and £3,000, with prices rising with inclusions of expensive flowers, cars and catering.

Jeff Brazier, a life coach, presenter and author of The Grief Survival Guide, said: “Having experienced the impact of death and bereavement firsthand I can’t stress enough how important it is to talk about the topic, and you’re never too young for it to impact you. The more we talk about it the less a taboo it becomes – helping us become more comfortable with one of life’s inevitabilities.’’

This article was amended on 3 May 2018 to add a reference to Child Bereavement UK and amend the planned cost of a Co-op “direct cremation” which the article originally gave as £1,400-£1,500.

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