How to choose between a cremation or burial for your loved one

If you are unsure what your loved one would have wanted for their funeral, speak to an impartial fun

If you are unsure what your loved one would have wanted for their funeral, speak to an impartial funeral director who can talk you through your options. Image: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If someone close to you has recently passed away, and they didn’t tell you what they wanted, it can be immensely difficult to make decisions on their behalf for their funeral.

Almost 75pc of funerals in the UK involve cremations. Images: Getty Images

Almost 75pc of funerals in the UK involve cremations. Images: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A good starting point can be learning the key differences between the types of funerals from an impartial advisor at this difficult time.

James Showers, director of Family Tree Funeral Company, talks us through the facts about both cremation and burial to aid your decision.


The cremation process uses intense heat to transform the person's remains into 'ashes' - this is done at a crematorium. These ashes then belong to the family.

The facts:

- This is a popular choice - almost 75pc of funerals in the UK involve cremation.

- The cost of cremation is slightly lower than burial. One reason being that there is no need for a headstone with this method.

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- Cremation uses more energy and so isn't as eco-friendly as burial.

- "These ashes are exclusively those of the person who was cremated, and will be returned to you," James says. "The remains of your loved one can be kept in an urn or scattered in a special place."

Where can I scatter the ashes?

James explains: "If you choose to scatter the ashes somewhere other than your own property, you'll need to get the landowner's permission, or the Coastguard's, if the sea or beach is your place of choice."

"You can even send your loved one's ashes into space - for a hefty fee! - or turn them into a firework display, or even made into jewellery. The possibilities are almost endless."


Until the 1880s, the only choice was to be buried.

"Burial is still the preference for some religious groups and until 1963, Catholic funerals would only ever involve a burial. However, despite cremation being the preferred choice for many, a significant number of the UK's churchyards are becoming full," James says.

The facts:

- As stated above, burial uses more land, and it may be the case that there isn't space in your local churchyard for your loved one. But there are burial places at crematoria and cemeteries run by the local council.

- Burial provides family and friends with a particular place to visit. You know exactly where that person has been laid to rest and can return again and again.

- The headstone - although expensive - allows space for the family to write a special message about the person who has passed.

Is there an eco-friendlier option?

"Green burials are becoming the choice for future generations," James says.

Natural burials, or woodland burials, are not only kind to the planet but won't burn such a hole in your pocket. The fact that there's no headstone can be a big cost saving, for example.

"Green burials do not allow the use of embalming fluids that damage the earth, and the coffins are made of environmentally friendly and biodegradable materials only."

"Natural funerals usually take place in woodland settings, and the biodegradable coffins (often woven and made from natural materials, adorned with flower garlands and bouquets - no plastic!) or even cardboard coffins, plain or with pictures, are very beautiful. It makes for a lovely send-off."

"The number of green burial sites is slowly growing. So, if you're leaning towards a green burial, it's best to talk it through with a funeral director who understands and offers this service."

For help with funeral plans, or to simply talk through your options for when the time comes contact James Showers on 01453 767 769 or

Visit for further information.

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