The way we arrange funerals is changing. Where in the past most funerals would have a traditional religious service, mourners dressed in dark colours and a standard order of service, people are now beginning to opt for alternative funeral options. From a humanist funeral to a woodland burial or DIY goodbye, read our guide to alternative funerals.
What is an alternative funeral?
An alternative funeral is anything that is not a typically traditional funeral. It does not have to be anything extreme or out of the ordinary. It’s often the little details that make the difference, it could be as simple as leading the funeral ceremony without a minister or officiant or asking mourners to wear bright colours. Each and every one of us are unique, and a funeral is an opportunity to reflect that.
Just because you choose to do things your way, it doesn’t need to be expensive. By taking the time to consider the elements of the funeral that are important to you, you can create a funeral that suits you and your loved one.
There are a number of alternative funeral options available, some of which you may not have heard of. We’ve created a list of alternative funeral ideas to give you some inspiration.
Alternative funeral ideas
One of the most common reasons families look for alternative funeral options is to arrange a family-led funeral, with a service that truly reflects their loved one. A family-led funeral is exactly its name. As family and friends of the deceased, you can choose to organise the funeral proceedings in whichever way suits you best. You'll be free to make decisions about the service and funeral arrangements, and as is often in the case in family-led funerals, you'll make also make arrangements for a memorial of your loved one.
Our attended funeral provides a full-length slot in the chapel at one of our crematoria nearest to the place of rest, where you can arrange a funeral ceremony led by the family. You’ll be able to arrange a service with music, readings, eulogies or whatever else you may see fit, as you would with a traditional funeral.
Your loved one will be resting in the chapel prior to your arrival at the crematorium. Many of the costs associated with a traditional funeral can be avoided; there is no procession with limousines or hearses beforehand, and the funeral begins as you enter the chapel.
If you're looking for ideas to make the funeral service a little more unique, a funeral theme is a great way of representing your loved one’s personality. You may choose to theme the funeral on their favourite hobby, film, sports team or band. Your loved one may have had a colourful character, in which case asking guests to wear colours of their choice or suggesting a colour (perhaps your loved one’s favourite) for everyone to wear could be a nice touch.
With the ceremony planned carefully by you, we’ll focus on the practicalities of a simple cremation. An attended funeral starts from £1,895. You can be sure we'll be there on the day to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Direct cremation is becoming a popular choice for those families looking for an affordable funeral alternative. Our unattended funeral provides a direct cremation supervised by a qualified chapel attendant, which takes place without any mourners present.
Along with families looking for a cost-effective option, this also suits those families who do not feel comfortable attending a funeral ceremony prior to the cremation, but want to ensure their loved one receives a dignified send off. It is common for a direct cremation to be followed by a celebration of life or memorial at a time and location away from the crematorium.
We also offer an intimate funeral, which allows a short time in the chapel for a small group of family and friends followed by a simple cremation. This small funeral offers a compromise between a direct cremation and a family-led funeral, so if attending the crematorium is important to you, but you do not want to arrange a full funeral service, this could be the alternative funeral option that suits you and loved one.
A humanist funeral is a non-religious funeral ceremony that celebrates the life of your loved one whilst also recognising the grief you may be going through. Humanist funerals are not restricted to those who identified themselves as a humanist.
A humanist funeral is often a very personal affair, with the focus of the ceremony, usually with a tribute section which lasts around 15 minutes. Similar to a traditional funeral, a humanist funeral will also include music and non-religious readings, but will not include funeral hymns or bible readings. The funeral ceremony will often be led by a humanist celebrant, family member or close friend.
A non-religious funeral ceremony can be planned at any venue that is happy to accommodate it or can be held outdoors, such as a woodland burial or burial at sea. Although often referred to as a ‘chapel’, most humanist funerals are held at a crematorium.
To hold a humanist funeral for your loved one, arrange an attended funeral today and engage with the services of a humanist celebrant in your area, who will be able to provide a cost for leading the service.
The growing number of natural burial sites in the UK is making woodland burial an increasingly popular alternative option. A woodland burial may also be referred to as a natural burial or green funeral and provides an environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional funeral. This option may suit you if your loved one had a particular interest in protecting the natural environment or enjoyed spending time in nature.
Woodland burial grounds are often set in forests, wooded areas or meadows, providing a peaceful final resting place for your loved one. A tree or flowers can be planted to mark the grave, as headstones and memorials are not permitted. For a woodland burial, a biodegradable coffin or casket will need to be used and the body cannot be embalmed beforehand.
The cost of a plot at a natural burial ground can vary significantly depending on where you live in the UK, costing from a few hundred pounds up to several thousand pounds. You may also have to pay interment and gravedigging fees.
Although most funerals in the UK are arranged by a Funeral Director, there isn’t a legal requirement to do so. A DIY funeral or ‘do it yourself funeral’ is a way of arranging a religious or non-religious funeral for your loved one without the assistance of a Funeral Director.
Arranging a funeral yourself can be an effective way of managing your grief, but may not be as simple as you’d expect. You’ll typically have to organise care of the deceased, funeral transportation, book a cremation or burial date, purchase a coffin, complete the legal paperwork and arrange a funeral service if you wish to do it all yourself.
Choosing a DIY funeral allows the freedom to organise a highly personalised ceremony for your loved one. Some people even say they feel a sense of closure, as they have done one final thing for their loved one. Although it is likely a DIY funeral will provide cost savings against a traditional funeral, this will depend on the specific arrangements you choose to make.
Find out more about arranging a DIY funeral.
Alternative funeral and cremation services from Simplicity
At Simplicity, we make arranging an alternative funeral a straightforward process.
With the ceremony planned carefully by you, we’ll take care of the practicalities ensuring your loved one receives the dignified sendoff they deserve.
Like our alternative funeral ideas for yourself? Request our free share your wishes form.