Direct Cremation and later memorial service

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by Antiquenotold, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. Antiquenotold

    Antiquenotold Registered User

    Dec 1, 2016
    Hi all, as Mum has been getting worse lately with all sorts of health problems my thoughts have been racing ahead to what will happen. I've always been one of those people who like to "have a plan" so I guess it's probably a coping strategy to try and plan for grief if you like. Anyway, my question is, does anyone have any experience of abandoning a normal funeral and instead having a direct cremation which is basically where the funeral director handles the cremation and the ashes are returned to the family for them to do what they choose to mark the death. I sort of quite like the idea since I tend to believe that the person's spirit leaves the (failing) body when they die, so mourning the physical remains seems slightly odd I think. I would also very much like to celebrate Mum's life with people who knew her at different parts of her life in ways which are appropriate to how she knew them. Sort of close and intimate with family, but maybe with a meal out for people she liked to socialise with. I just wonder though if it will seem odd to people to not have a funeral as such....and do you guys think that matters? Any thoughts most welcome.
  2. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    I think it could be a bit odd, bit like going to a birthday party then finding out the person who's birthday it was isn't there or an amazing silver wedding anniversary I went to when it was obvious the 2 people had just had a massive row about something. Celebrating without the celebrant seems a bit strange.
    I don't know how this would go down with "the older generation" or even if it's something she would want, the day is about her. I take it this is something you've never discussed with her?
  3. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
  4. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    I think it's a great idea. The presence of a coffin at a funeral service is upsetting but traditional, for all sorts of practical, cultural and psychological reasons. I attended a memorial celebration where the deceased had already been cremated privately. The family wanted to separate the body aspect from the celebration of life aspect. It was not odd. I didn't think "where's the coffin? What's the point in coming all this way if she's already been laid to rest". I didn't go there to say goodbye to a coffin.

    We intend to do something similar when my mum dies. Her remains will be kept in cold storage until my brothers can arrive from overseas. Then she will be transported 100 miles and buried with my dad. When he died a cousin conducted a short private service for immediate family only, in a room in the hotel next to the cemetery. This is what he wanted. We will do the same again for mum. She is a Christian and wanted a big church funeral. Sadly most of her friends and family are dead and not many of the people at her church know her because she hasn't attended for 9 years. We can therefore choose to have a celebration of her life whenever and wherever we want.
  5. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I think it's a great idea too and I've only recently learned about this, when a Quaker charity gave a talk about funerals. It's so much cheaper than a normal cremation, and frankly, I've always found it creepy to watch the coffin disappear behind a curtain and know it's going into the fire now. Much better to have a lovely memorial service afterwards.

    Do what you feel is right, and who cares what others think. We care too much about that already.
  6. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    We have planned something similar for us when the time comes.

    After OH had a cardiac arrest three years ago, he asked me what would I have done had he died so we had a discussion about what each would like.

    Neither of us are religious at all and neither of us wants a funeral. I personally think that the prices the funeral directors charge are ridiculous and that I would rather my children have the money. I understand that idea is not for everybody but I also have certain other opinions about funerals that I won't put here.

    I have already purchased our places in the local cemetery where our ashes are to go, a lovely paved area with some trees and a water feature.

    The idea is that a few days following the cremation, family and friends could gather at a local hotel for refreshments, finger food and a short speech or two. And the colour black will be banned.

    A friend recently did something similar for her mother and had her ashes in a nice urn at the celebration so she was there but just not in a coffin.

    Do what you and your family thinks is best. It doesn't matter if that is different to what other people do. We each mourn in our own way and saying our goodbyes should be how we want it to be.
  7. Steve115

    Steve115 Registered User

    May 17, 2016
    Huntingdon area
    We had a direct cremation for my mother who wanted no fuss. The FD did the business and returned the ashes to us ready for us to scatter them and have a "party" with all her friends at the home that she lived in. Frankly it was excellent as it did not get overly sentimental or maudlin and there was no miserable hanging around.

    If that is what you want to do I would recommend it.
  8. Antiquenotold

    Antiquenotold Registered User

    Dec 1, 2016
    Thanks to all of you for replying. It really helps my thought processes to hear what you all think. I know it might seem a bit odd, but planning now seems to comfort me somehow about what is to come, so I can actually calm down enough to enjoy the time we do have better
  9. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    It's not odd at all. It's very sensible. The talk we got from that Quaker charity about funeral planning was the most informative one, and we were all glad that someone went through all the options with us and warned of pitfalls as well. If you are unprepared, that's when a funeral director is able to extract thousands from you because you are not thinking clearly, time is of the essence, and relatives tell you not to spare any expenses and "give him/her a good send-off", even though the big religious ceremony might not be for you or what he/she wanted.
  10. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    I totally get that. This year I bought a funeral plan for my mum with quite detailed plans for the arrangements. I did lots of research on coffins and eventually chose a willow casket. I even ordered a hand made woollen nightgown and knitted Scandinavian booties for her to be buried in. I emailed my brothers with all the information. They understand that it's all very practical and sensible, though I expect they think it's a bit weird to have thought about doing this. She's 92. It's going to happen, so like you I wanted to have a plan and Yes, it is comforting and enables me better to enjoy the time we have left with her.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to arrange. Katrine x
  11. meme

    meme Registered User

    Aug 29, 2011
    it saves a fair bit of money ...I considered this for my brothers funeral but so may of his friends wanted to attend and wanted his guitar to be placed on top of his coffin (removed at last minute) that I went for a cremation with humanist celebrant are right, the memorial after is a time to remember and celebrate ..and to say goodbye?... you have to do whatever feels right to you that is what matters now
  12. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    I am giving serious though to this for myself and my husband when our time comes. As you get older the family and friends who would have cared gradually disappear and the younger generation are open to new ideas. After a lifetime as a regular attender at church my husband has not had a single visit or enquiry since he became ill with Alzheimer's so I am very lukewarm about church service funerals now and never did like "Frank Sinatra" funerals.
  13. Rodelinda

    Rodelinda Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
    I think it sounds great - if it's what you want and it feels right for you. My 90 year old mother (who lived with me and had vascular dementia) died 2 weeks ago. She was brought up 'chapel' but in recent years has not attended; we are both a long way down the scale of agnostic-atheist (if that's possible). I'm planning a gathering which I will lead with, hopefully, input from other family members - reminiscences, a poem or othe reading or music. We will have lots of photos of her throughout her life and will drink tea and eat cake after the formal part. No hymns or prayers but the coffin will be there and at the end we will have a benediction from a minister to reflect her views. Then just the two of us will accompany the hearse to the Crematorium and say a final goodbye - no service there either. I'm not sure she would approve but it will be a fitting end for her long life. All the best. Sue
  14. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm just catching up with this. We had Mum cremated immediately and then had a memorial service a couple of weeks later, with her ashes there. This is becoming quite common here. We then had another service in another province, where we were burying her ashes.

    I have always thought that funerals are for the survivors and not the deceased. You do whatever brings you the most comfort.
  15. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    Agree so much with you, Joanne.
  16. jimbo 111

    jimbo 111 Registered User

    Jan 23, 2009
    North Bucks
    I don’t know about advising you in your choice but I have found several of the posts very interesting
    You mentioned about the soul leaving the body on death
    Ever since childhood (and I am now 87) I have had this firm and comforting belief told to me by my mother that on our death our soul departs the body and is gifted to a newborn baby and a so lives on forever
    One of your responders mentioned the dread of seeing the curtains being drawn on the coffin at the end of the service
    To me it is the opposite , I feel privileged to be saying a last goodbye to the ‘person’ to whom I am paying my respects
    Perhaps my combined attitudes help me at a traumatic time
    I hope you find some comfort and help in your request

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