By Catherine Powell, Director at Pure Cremation

If you don’t fancy a big funeral, why not have a direct cremation – like David Bowie did!

Many of us think the ritual of death has to be done a certain way: you engage a Funeral Director, you have a burial or a cremation with a service and mourners, you have a wake at a nearby house, pub or hotel and then you depart.

In fact, the UK government’s advice on ‘what to do after someone dies’ states that there are three steps to take:

  1. Get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor
  2. Register the death
  3. Arrange the funeral

Yet there are different options available that challenge traditions and lift restrictions, allowing your family and friends to celebrate your life the way you want.

David Bowie chose to not have a funeral, and opted for a direct cremation, and two months later, Booker Prize-winning writer, Anita Brookner, requested that no funeral was to be held after her death.

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But what is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation is a simple delivery of the coffin to the crematorium. It takes place without a service and usually without any mourners being present and this form of cremation offers many new possibilities.

Why do people choose to have a direct cremation?

Direct cremations simply separate the practical aspects of a funeral from the ceremonial, giving a new freedom to personalise your send-off.

They are straightforward, cost-effective and liberating; best of all family and friends then have all the time they need to gather together and to craft a “goodbye” that truly expresses your personality, beliefs and relationships.

Pure Cremation Director and co-founder Catherine Powell (48) has left strict instructions for a celebration featuring lots of champagne, glamorous hats and great music for dancing.

In another example, a daughter wanted a simple cremation for her elderly Mum followed a few days later by a delightfully feminine tea party at or close to the care home that would allow frail friends to be present and to share in the celebration of this special lady’s life.

From beautiful household mementos to fireworks – ashes can be mixed with a range of different things, or provide the focus for the farewell itself.

More people want to celebrate a loved one’s life rather than mourn their death and so you can choose a summer beach party or memorial event at your favourite restaurant instead of a funeral.

Direct cremations offer financial benefits too, as you can save over £5,000 on the cost of your funeral.

How do I go about arranging a direct cremation?

The subject of ‘death’ is often viewed as ‘morbid’ and something that people feel uncomfortable discussing with their loved ones. But contrary to popular belief, discussing the topic can have a positive impact on you and your loved ones.

By deciding on the funeral you want and creating a Record of Wishes your family and friends will know what to do, but if you want to guarantee your wishes are followed then you should consider a pre-paid plan.

In some ways it’s a strange thing to do, to decide on your own funeral since you won’t be there to experience it. Yet, it is known by psychologists that feeling we have our affairs in order gives peace of mind now and a beneficial sense of control at the end of our lives too.

Clear instructions are especially important for the growing number of people whose ideal funeral is a direct cremation, liberating everyone from the complex psychology of ‘doing the right thing’ and creating opportunities for new, more personal traditions.

If you’d like to find out more about direct cremations, please visit Pure Cremation’s website: or contact Catherine Powell on 0800 033 7737.

You may also like: “I Want Balloons” Planning Mom’s Funeral – With Mom and On Becoming A Humanist Celebrant For An Alternative Funeral

direct cremation
Catherine Powell 2

Catherine Powell is Director at Pure Cremation and is actively involved in caring for bereaved families, including handling initial telephone enquiries, care of the deceased and conveying clients to the crematorium. She uses her extensive knowledge and expertise to help bereaved families understand the funeral choices available to them, the process of arranging a funeral and how to achieve the send-off that is right for them.

Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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