Alternatives to planning a traditional funeral

Alternatives to planning a traditional religious funeral 

When planning your end-of-life wishes, there are a few good alternatives to traditional religious funerals. These include:

  • Direct cremation
  • Humanist funerals
  • Home burial
  • Woodland burial
  • Burial at sea
  • Promession
  • Donating your body to science
We explore each of these below in more detail. 
If you are looking to document either your own, or a relatives wishes you can always use our free funeral planner in order to plan and budget. 

Complete a free funeral plan online now


What is a Direct Cremation?

A direct cremation is a cheaper alternative to a full-service and cremation.

This has become more popular in recent years, and even more so during the pandemic faced in 2020, where guests were limited at a funeral. Service levels may vary but the body is collected by the company. Once the price, service, specific time and date and arranged the remains are brought back to you and you then can organise your own distribution of ashes and a celebration of your loved ones life how you wish.

Prices for a direct cremation start at around £900.

What is a Humanist Funeral?

This service is usually non-religious and is often held at a crematorium but can vary to wherever you choose and maybe in combination to a direct cremation. There can be non-religious songs, poems, readings and music with friends and family. The service is usually taken by a humanist celebrant or even a close friend or relative.

What is Home Burial

This is where you or a loved one can be buried at your family home or similar, but the site would need to be approved beforehand.
It is also worth considering where the site will be in the family forever. It would be heart-breaking to leave you or your loved one behind if the site becomes privately owned away from the family and access to visit would be denied.However, if cremation is an option, you could then potentially leave a small amount of the ashes in a garden of remembrance or similar.

What is a Woodland Burial?

There are sites throughout the UK and Ireland that accommodate woodland burials. This is where you can be buried amongst the trees, nature and woodland. This can be religious, but it is usually a nonreligious option where friends and family can gather around nature.
Lots of Woodland Burial sites do not allow embalming due to the environment and the release of chemicals in the ground, so if you are considering this option we would suggest not to be embalmed or have visitations after death. The best option here is to discuss with burial site and funeral directors in advance. 


What is a Burial at Sea?

You can choose to bury your body at sea as your final resting place, perhaps if you are a sailor, fisherman or just love the ocean but this extremely costly and must be organised by specialists. You could distribute your ashes at sea as a cost-efficient alternative.

What is Promession?

This is an environmentally friendly process where your body is freeze dried with liquid nitrogen and broken down into ash. It was created in Sweden and is legal in the United Kingdom, and South Korea. It costs in the region of £8000+.

What is Organ and Body donation?

This is where you can donate your full body and organs to science and medical development. This will mean where possible your healthy organs and remains can be donated and transplanted to save another.

There are many more options to a traditional funeral and your wishes can always be followed but here is a selection of the most popular.

If you have specific non-traditional wishes, you can use our free funeral planner tool to advise your loved ones of your wishes. When relevant you can choose ‘other’ throughout your funeral planner and add your own bespoke wishes.
We would advise to make the wishes manageable both financially and realistically whilst in a state of grief.

Complete a free funeral plan online now