A different kind of direct cremation

Four minute read

Unattended cremations, also known as direct cremations, have grown in popularity in recent years, now accounting for one in five funerals in the UK.

You may have seen direct cremation advertised on TV or online as a low-cost, no-fuss option, provided by internet-only companies as well as high street funeral directors.

Yet, not all direct cremations are the same. Here, we explain a few things about Poppy’s unique, caring approach to direct cremation.

1. We offer the best possible care.

With a direct cremation, we collect and care for your person in exactly the same gentle and thoughtful way as we always do. It makes no difference what type of funeral you have arranged — everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Once our team has brought your person into our care at Poppy’s, we’ll call you to let you know. We always refer to people by their first names, not ‘the deceased’.

Our team will look after them until the cremation in our light, airy on-site mortuary, situated in a converted chapel in Lambeth Cemetery, Tooting.

We’ll tell you what they are wearing, if anything, when they arrive into our care. While our direct cremation doesn’t include dressing the person in different clothes, they can remain in the clothes they have arrived in or we can remove these and gently wrap them in calico. It’s your choice.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a direct cremation. or read more about our prices and services.

2. Our HQ, our mortuary and the crematorium we use are all on the same site.

We won’t move your person from place to place once they are in our care. There is only a short journey in a discreet Poppy’s hearse to Lambeth Crematorium on the day of the direct cremation.

This is not only better for the environment than moving people between sites, but many clients tell us that it gives them peace of mind to know exactly where and how their relative or friend is being cared for.

Poppy's mortuary in Lambeth cemetery, view from outside
Poppy's mortuary, right by our Tooting HQ

3. You will have one point of contact at Poppy’s throughout.

In almost all cases, you’ll have a single person on the Poppy’s team to support you throughout the process.

Their support includes a short meeting by phone, in person or online, to complete essential paperwork, and being available to answer any questions, and to update you with information about the direct cremation.

4. We chose the time and date of the cremation, but we will always let you know when and where it is taking place.

We’ll let you know as soon as the arrangements are made and will be in touch the day before to reassure you that everything is in hand.

We will bring the person in their coffin to Lambeth Crematorium first thing in the morning. Some families and friends choose to meet us outside Poppy’s mortuary or outside the crematorium building. While you can’t come inside, you can follow the hearse or lay flowers on the coffin if you wish. Some clients have described this as being an incredibly powerful and meaningful experience.

At the crematorium, there is also a courtyard to leave flowers next to the person’s nameplate.

5. While most aspects of a direct cremation are fixed, there are some that can be adapted.

To ensure that our direct cremation stays a simple and lower-cost option, there are some fixed items, for example we only offer a cardboard coffin for a direct cremation. But if you provide a flag or other material to drape over the coffin, we can do this for you to add a personal touch. You can also leave us with a letter, photo or other item to be placed with the person in the coffin.

We offer a choice of urns, at an additional cost, or you can supply your own.

Our direct cremation cost includes doctor’s fees. When someone is referred to the coroner’s these don’t apply, so we remove them from the overall cost.

6. A Poppy’s direct cremation is dignified and respectful.

One or two members of our team, alongside the crematorium chapel attendant, will transfer your person’s coffin from the hearse into the crematorium chapel and it will be placed on the catafalque (raised platform) at the front. After a moment of stillness, the curtains are closed.

We’ll get in touch to let you know that everything went smoothly and to tell you the names of the people on our team who were there on the day.

We’ll also let you know when the ashes are ready for collection from the crematorium office, usually within three working days. Alternatively, we can arrange for a member of our team to deliver your person’s ashes directly to you at any address within London at an additional cost.

Lily and Angie are two of our Client Support Advisers who look after Direct and Simple Cremations at Poppy's

7. Having a direct cremation doesn’t mean you can’t still have a ceremony.

During the Covid lockdown, an unattended funeral was the only option for many, whether they wanted this or not. Research shows that this lack of ritual, or simply the inability to gather together and share grief with others, is having a long-lasting effect.

Now that it’s possible to have a ceremony at a different time to the cremation itself, many people choose this option. This gives you complete flexibility in terms of timings, location and format. The ceremony or celebration can be as formal and elaborate, or low-key and fuss-free, as you choose.

We know of families who have chosen a direct cremation followed by a much later memorial service to enable family members to fly in from overseas. And others who have used the ashes as a focus — scattering ashes on their person’s favourite running route, or in multiple places each of which meant something to them.

8. A Poppy’s direct cremation minimises impact on the environment

Becoming more sustainable is a core part of Poppy’s values. We know that making greener choices is important to many of our clients.

For a Poppy’s direct cremation, we use our electric collection vehicle to bring someone into our care; run all our operations on site with renewable electricity; and use eco-friendly cardboard coffins, lined with calico rather than plastic. Lambeth Crematorium is also the only one in London that has electric cremators.

Poppy Mardall lining a coffin with calico
Lining a coffin with calico

9. With a simple cremation, you can also visit your person at Poppy’s.

A simple cremation is a service unique to Poppy’s. It’s very similar to our direct cremation, but for an additional cost, we also include an hour-long visit in our Friends and Family Room, and the opportunity for you to bring clothes to Poppy’s so that we can dress your person in their own clothes.

The visit is your time to use however you choose. We know of families and friends who have decorated the cardboard coffin; or played music; or held a small, intimate service; or simply sat in silence.

Why choose a direct cremation?

People will have different reasons for choosing direct cremation. The reasons may be practical or financial. Maybe the person who died requested it, or they were the sort of person that ‘didn’t like a fuss’.

When Poppy’s started back in 2012, we were among the first offering direct cremations. Whatever your reasons for choosing a direct cremation or a simple cremation today, at Poppy’s, we still believe in always providing the best possible, personalised care for you and the person who has died.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a direct cremation. or read more about our prices and services.

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