Unattended Cremation or Traditional Funeral Service. Which is best?

There are a number of things to consider when deciding between an unattended cremation or a traditional funeral. In this guide, we help you with that choice.
Unattended Cremation or Traditional Funeral Service. Which is best?

Recent data indicates that 75% of Australians are choosing cremation over a traditional burial and funeral service. Furthermore, 20% of these cremations were noted as being unattended, meaning they were without an accompanying funeral service. These figures are only likely to rise, as Australians become better educated about the differences between unattended cremations and traditional funeral services.

What are the differences between an unattended cremation and traditional funeral service?

Here are some of the main differences between an unattended cremation and a traditional funeral service:


Unattended or direct cremation services are arranged separately from any accompanying funeral service. As such, only the staff from the crematorium are present. Sometimes, the immediate family of the deceased will attend too.


As the cost of a direct cremation only covers the costs associated with the cremation, the fee is considerably less than a traditional burial funeral. This is because traditional funerals include fees for a funeral director, an elaborate coffin, flowers, service booklets, candles and catering.

To put things in perspective, a traditional, attended cremation service co-ordinated by a traditional funeral home costs around $7,500 to $10,000.  In contrast, an unattended cremation service with Willed can be as little as $1650 to $2,195  depending on the location.


Choosing a direct cremation also allows families to take the time they need to mourn the death of their loved one before arranging a more public memorial service, celebration of life or scattering of the ashes. By focusing one’s efforts and funds on a memorial service, rather than a formal funeral, families have the time and space to personalise the service to better suit the personality of the deceased.

In summary

‍The options are endless when it comes to planning a memorial after a direct cremation. With the money saved, family and friends have the flexibility and budget to farewell their loved ones in a way that truly celebrates their unique life. It could be a meal at their favourite restaurant, a backyard barbecue, a tree-planting ceremony, or a beachside scattering of the ashes.

What is involved in an unattended cremation?

A direct cremation, like those arranged through Willed, includes arrangement of all the required medical and legal documentation and comprises the following steps:


Your loved one is collected from the place of their passing. This may include their family home, hospital or a nursing home. If a person has passed unexpectedly or in traumatic or suspicious circumstances, they may need to be collected from the Coroners Court.

At this stage they will also be formally identified and given a physical tag which remains with them every step of the way.


The deceased is respectfully transported to a mortuary facility where their body is prepared for cremation. If they had a pacemaker, it would be removed at this stage.


The cremation is performed by a highly-professional team. Your loved one’s ashes are then transferred to a simple urn.

Return of ashes

You will be contacted to arrange delivery of your loved one’s ashes.

How to decide on the best farewell for your loved one

It’s not uncommon for families to discuss funeral plans, especially when entering later years of life or experiencing a terminal Illness. Similarly, funeral wishes are commonly outlined in a loved one’s legal Will.  However, if you’re unsure if an unattended cremation is right for you and your family, you might like to consider these points:

What kind of person was your loved one?

If they were quite traditional, a more formal, funeral ceremony is probably the right option. However,  if they were more of a free-spirit, then  an unattended cremation followed by a personalised celebration of life is likely to be a better fit.

Did your loved one discuss their finances before they passed?

Unattended cremations are generally thousands of dollars less than traditional funeral services so they are an excellent cost saving option.

For some people a direct cremation is more suited to their budget. For others, the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a formal funeral is unpalatable. Instead, they may prefer that that money is inherited by their family.

Is there a location that meant something to your loved one?

A direct cremation allows you to arrange the scattering of ashes at a time and location that suits you and the desires of your loved one.

Did your loved one have a large family and social network?

These days, getting family and friends together at short notice can be difficult. Families can be spread out across countries, careers can span multiple jobs and friends can be collected at any stage of life. Spreading the word to all those who might like to attend a traditional funeral service may prove difficult in only a few days.

By arranging a direct cremation in the days following your loved one’s passing, you will have plenty of time to get everyone together for a memorial service at a later date.

Wrap up

There are a number of things to think about when choosing between an unattended cremation and a traditional funeral service. As a starting point, you should consider the desires of the deceased, the financial implications, the timing and the logistics of each option. Then you will be well placed to make the choice that best suits your needs.

Arranging a direct cremation with Willed is simple and can be organised in moments. For a fixed-fee, no obligation quote, visit willed.com.au or phone 1300 945 533 to speak with a dedicated Funeral Arranger.

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