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What is Unattended or Direct Cremation?

Why is Unattended or Direct Cremation the fastest growing trend in Australian funeral service?

Unattended or direct cremation is the simplest  and most affordable form of disposition. Your loved is collected from the place of death and brought into the care of a funeral director. No viewing or family services are held. Some families choose to have a memorial service or gathering at a later time. Once all documentation is completed your loved one is conveyed to a crematorium for direct cremation. 

There can be many reasons as to why direct cremation is increasing in popularity among consumers,  yet not all within the funeral industry believe it such a good thing.

There is no doubt cost plays an important role in decision making when choosing direct cremation. With increasing funeral costs many believe they can unburden themselves from the costs associated with Traditional style funeral services, such as officiant fees, expensive coffins, venue or funeral director fees, catering , printing, audio visual and mortuary fees. Yet, perhaps most choose Direct unattended cremation for the simple and straightforward nature of this type of service, a no nonsense, no frills approach in avoiding the complexities of traditional funerals.

Indeed this is where  some in funeral service believe the “problem” lies. Anecdotally, some traditional funeral service providers claim that in hinsight some families that choose direct or unattended cremation would have preferred a full service funeral. (Although in the writers experience he has not come across this). Subsequently many in the traditional funeral sector believe clients need to be educated in the values of traditional funeral service. In a society that now has more access to information than ever before, it would seem odd that consumers require “reeducation”.

The ease of access to information has made people more informed consumers. With the availability of information online, individuals can research and choose funeral options that align with their preferences and values, contributing to the popularity of direct cremation.

Some terms used by some providers is less than flattering. In an industry mostly devoid of acronyms, one is used by many to describe a direct unattended cremation, “NSNA”, No Service No Attendance. This is the only acronym used to describe any funeral service. You have to ask why, Direct Cremation has one? Even worse is the term used by some to describe low cost coffins used in unattended service as “Burners”.  Perhaps traditional funeral providers should be listening more to what consumers are increasingly requesting.

When demographics and social change are considered there are a number of other factors that should be considered as to why direct Unattended cremation is on the increase? With modern society becoming increasingly mobile, families can often be living in different locations or indeed countries. Direct cremation provides flexibility in handling the deceased’s remains allowing transfer of cremated remains to a location of the families choosing.

Changing religious affiliations have impacted choice,  and with a growing number of individuals identifying as non religious, families have moved towards simpler and more secular end of life practices. None could be more evident, where we have seen a shift  by some families in those of Orthodox and Muslim belief’s that are choosing “non sanctioned” church cremation. I guess we might liken this to old and new world practices merging.

Direct Cremation does not necessarily mean there are no gatherings to remember the deceased. Some people feel uncomfortable with the formalities and rituals associated with traditional funerals. Direct cremation allows for families to grieve in a more private or personal manner, without the pressure of a formal ceremony.

Finally, as environmental awareness grows, many are looking at more earth friendly options compared to traditional burial. Cremation typically requires less land use and there is a perception that it has a lower environmental impact on our planet.

While direct cremation is gaining in popularity, it’s important to note that cultural, religious, and individual preferences vary, and traditional services still continue to be chosen by many families. The growth in direct cremation reflects a broader trend towards personalisation, simplicity, and cost conscious decision making in end of life planning. Many grief councellors believe a funeral service is vital in helping loved ones come to terms with the reality of their loss and indeed this can assist many in the grief process.

In selecting a funeral provider for unattended cremation you should select an AFDA Member,

In selecting an AFDA member you can be assured your funeral director is bound by a strict code of ethics and conduct, affording you peace of mind knowing your loved one will be well cared for.

  • Member firms must comply with a required standards for premises, equipment and vehicles
  •  Members are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development annually
  • Members are bound by the AFDA code of Ethics and Code of Conduct
  • The AFDA has a formal Complaints process to handle any issue that may arise between AFDA member funeral directors and client families.
Please note the cost of Direct cremation can vary considerably and it does pay to gain a few quotes before deciding on your provider.
For More information
The Grief Centre provides loss and grief and professional counselling services click here
Daisybox earth friendly coffins click here
Robert Nelson Funerals click here
“The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Robert Nelson Funerals or any other individuals or entities associated with the author.”



Call us on Ph (03) 9532 2111 or Email robert@robertnelsonfunerals.com.au

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Robert Nelson Managing Director
Robert Nelson is a 5th Generation funeral director. He is Managing Director of Robert Nelson Funerals and ABC Cremations, based in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia. he is past deputy Chairman of The Australian Institute of Embalmers, Past President of The Australian Funeral Directors Association (Victorian Division) and Past National Councillor of The Australian Funeral Directors Association and Member of The British Institute of Embalmers.