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Can You Have a Funeral Without a Service

When people find themselves needing to plan a funeral for a loved one, one of the most common things to pop into their minds is arranging a funeral service as part of the proceedings. However, what many people do not realise is that there is often a fair bit of flexibility available when planning a funeral. And that means getting to pick and choose what aspects you want to be included.

It is possible to have a funeral without a service. For many people in recent years, it has become the preference as it allows them to more affordably have the body of their loved one buried or cremated. They can then plan on having a memorial service or celebration of life ceremony undertaken at a later date.

This option of not having a service as part of the funeral arrangements is referred to as direct burial or cremation. Here is why it is becoming a popular option for many of the bereaved.

Why skip the service?

Having a service during a funeral is part of traditional funeral proceedings. The service can be held at a chapel, church or other religious building. A member of the clergy or other celebrant of the person’s faith is chosen to conduct the service.

When you choose a direct burial or cremation, the service is skipped. There is no viewing of the body or religious service, just a direct transfer of the body from the funeral home to the burial site for interment or crematorium.


Direct burials or cremations are a no-frills affair. There is no engagement of clergy or another celebrant. No need to arrange for viewing, flowers, catering or even a funeral announcement. The body is just transferred to either the burial site or crematorium. If the body is cremated, the ashes are given to the next of kin. In both cases, the necessary paperwork for the death certificate, death registration and anything else are also concluded on.

Keeping things simple helps to cut down on costs considerably. There is less work for the funeral director to handle and this ultimately makes for an ideal solution for cases where there is a shortage of funds to afford a full traditional funeral service.


Unfortunately, there are times when funeral homes can be heavily burdened with having to deal with an influx of bodies that are coming in and need to be dealt with. At the peak of the pandemic, many funeral homes had a tough time having to arrange of embalming of bodies and needing to quickly have them buried or cremated.

The speed at which they did this work often left families struggling to make funeral arrangements that could keep pace, all while having to deal with the grief of sudden death. Opting for direct burials or cremations allowed for the issue of handling the body to be resolved, allowing the family to take their time to better plan for a later service or celebration of life ceremony without the pressure of having to keep up with the funeral home’s tight schedule.


During the pandemic, social gatherings were prohibited, with limitations placed on how many people could be in attendance at funerals. This was to limit the risk of disease transmission. Holding funeral services when so few of the deceased’s loved ones could be in attendance encouraged many families to opt for direct burials and cremations.

This way they could properly commemorate their loved one through a service or celebration of life ceremony later on when restrictions would be lifted. Thus, direct burials and cremations make it possible to not have to delay committing the body of the deceased, as the family waits for a safer time to undertake other aspects of the farewell.


Funeral services are typically associated with religious rites. The celebrants are usually clergy and the activities often include reading the eulogy, prayers, reading of scripture, and singing funeral hymns. If the deceased person was not religious or an atheist, they would probably not want the traditional religious service to be conducted in their honour.

Opting for direct burial or cremation is often preferred by those that are irreligious, with a more secular celebration of life ceremony held thereafter.

Ease of arrangement

Direct burials and cremations are so easy to arrange, you do not even have to do so in person. You can simply call the funeral home to make arrangements and complete payment. For those not wanting to financially or otherwise burden loved ones and have better control over their farewell, it is also possible to simply prepay for these arrangements.

What happens during a direct burial or cremation?

Direct burials and cremations are a straightforward affair. There is no viewing of the body or service. For direct burial, the body is simply transported to the burial site for committal. Loved ones may attend the burial but no service is held at the graveside. It is a direct interment which some opt to also skip. The only costs to be paid are the funeral director fees, mortuary fees, casket costs, transportation costs, and burial costs. There may also be some fees associated with getting the death certificate and other paperwork done.

A similar arrangement occurs with direct cremation. The body is directly transported to the crematorium for cremation. The ashes are later handed over to the family or next of kin. The costs here are just for the funeral director fees, mortuary fees, casket costs, transportation costs, cremation costs and provision of ashes. In both cases, the death certificate, death registration and other paperwork are arranged for with the funeral director. There may also be some fees associated with getting the death certificate and other paperwork done.