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Direct Cremation and the Way We Think About Death

Death is something that everyone has in common. Yet for so long, death has been something we avoid talking or thinking about. New innovations in death care, including direct cremation services, promise to change that and open up new conversations about death and the end of life.

At Be Ceremonial, we believe in the power of choice. We also believe that ritual and ceremony should be accessible to everyone, especially surrounding the seemingly invisible moments that surround grief and loss. Our Scattering Ashes ceremony is a great place to start, giving you some ideas and inspiration on how to bring ritual into the moments following a cremation.

Eirene was started by Mallory Greene to offer an alternative to the traditional funeral home model. There are so many innovators in the death care space, especially here in Canada, and we are thrilled to shine a light on the phenomenal work Eirene is doing.

Direct Cremation and the Way We Think About Death

“At Eirene, we understand the instrumental role that memorialization plays in how we move forward following a loss. Our goal is to empower families to create their own meaningful ceremonies through the tools and resources made available.

Ultimately, we want families to know that they don’t have to rely on a funeral home to honour their loved ones in a meaningful way.”

A Short History of Cremation

According to the Cremation Association of North America, cremation began during the early Stone Age, more than 5,000 years ago. 

In North America, cremation only became popular in the late 1800s. Since that time, cremation has seen increases and decreases in overall popularity, but it has persevered as a common form of final disposition.

In fact: by 2021, an estimated 75% of all deaths in Canada were handled via cremation. 

Early modern cremation followed the lead of traditional burial and often included embalming, a viewing, and a funeral. This is known as traditional cremation. However, more and more people today are choosing direct cremation.

The Shift to Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is when a body is cremated shortly after death, without first going through a funeral service. So why is this form of disposition growing rapidly in popularity across Canada, North America, and the world? 

One of the most important factors is cost. Rising costs for the average family have led many families to seek lower-cost solutions to end-of-life planning. Expensive funerals and pricy burial plots just aren’t an option, or at least not a practical option, for many Canadian families.

Another factor, as noted by CNN Health, is decreased religious restrictions and attitudes. The Vatican, for example, now allows practicing Catholics to choose cremation over traditional burial. Additionally, fewer people than ever before consider themselves religious, which means they’re free to choose whichever form of final disposition they prefer.

The COVID-19 pandemic also played a key role in the growing interest in direct cremation. During lockdowns, direct cremation offered a solution for those who couldn’t visit a funeral home or didn’t feel safe doing so. 

Benefits of Direct Cremation

Direct cremation has many benefits for families and individuals. Let’s look at a few of the most important ones. 

~ Simple and cost-effective

Direct cremation is a simple and practical approach to death that allows families to complete the process quickly and with minimal expense. The cost of burial and funerals is the key driving force behind the increase in direct cremation’s popularity. But it’s also important to note that it’s a less complicated and less confusing option.

~ Less time spent at funeral homes

Direct cremation is a service that you can often arrange from the comfort of your home, through services like Eirene or by coordinating over the phone with a funeral home and crematory. This can be crucial for family members who are grieving and don’t want to spend more time than they have to arranging their loved one’s final disposition or sitting in a funeral home.

~ No time pressure to plan a funeral

With traditional burial or traditional cremation, you hold a funeral or memorial before final disposition. This creates enormous time pressure to plan and hold the funeral within a short time frame. This often leads families to make spur-of-the-moment decisions about the funeral and end up with something more expensive than they would have wanted.

With direct cremation, you complete the cremation process first, within a short period of time after death. Then you have all the time you need to plan a truly meaningful, personal memorial service or funeral.

~ More time with family and friends

The simple and quick process of planning direct cremation means you have more time to spend with the people who matter most after a death. Surrounding yourself with family and friends when you’re grieving, or simply taking time to honor your grief, can make all the difference.

Changing the Narrative Around Death and Dying

The rise in direct cremation is part of a greater shift in the way we think and talk about death. 

Eirene’s ultimate goal is to demystify and democratize death care, and to help families obtain a sense of peace after a loss. In Canada, Eirene offers straightforward and accessible access to cremation services when historically, this hasn’t been available.

As part of that process, more and more people are seeing the benefits of choosing direct cremation and having conversations about direct cremation with their family members. Many people no longer feel pressured to hold a traditional funeral and burial, and they feel free to choose a practical, lower-cost option like direct cremation.

The Future of Direct Cremation

Eirene’s vision of the future includes direct cremation as an easily accessible option to everyone across Canada. Additionally, Eirene aims to foster an environment where families feel more comfortable talking about their end-of-life plans and what they want to happen when they die. 

Direct cremation has already skyrocketed in popularity due to its lower, more practical cost, as well as the other benefits such as flexibility concerning memorialization. Eirene’s goal is to encourage this cultural shift towards direct cremation services and alleviate much of the stress we take on when someone we love dies.

The Future of Direct Cremation

Eirene is conscious of the impact the funeral industry has on the environment. To help offset our carbon footprint and build a better tomorrow for Canadians, we have committed to planting trees in Canada for each family that chooses our services.

To do our part in preserving Canada’s forests, we’ll plant five trees in memory of your loved one. We hope that this honours your loved one in such a way that represents new life.

You can read more about our approach to ritual and ceremony on Eirene’s blog as well.

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Eirene Cremations

We started Eirene to create the kind of funeral services that we would want for our loved ones. We combine high-quality, compassionate funeral services, with a convenient arrangement process, at an affordable price. Arrangements can be made from the comfort of your home with the support of our funeral directors — online or over the phone.

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