David Bowie led the way in Direct Cremation

Submitted by Chris Tabor on Mon, 05/10/2020 - 11:29

‘My son tells me 57000 other people have also died this morning. I like to imagine them all in a room whispering, "that's David Bowie" ‘.

Simon Stephens posted that brilliant Tweet on Twitter the morning after the news David Bowie had died on the 10th January 2016.

When someone famous dies, it hits all the major news channels, even as onlookers, we are all surprised, saddened, and shocked at the death.  Not all celebrities or well-known people then go on to create a big reaction over their death that is talked about for years.

David Bowie is one person that did just this – in a noteworthy way.


Bowie’s Will

Created some 12 years before his death, Bowie’s Will asked for his body to be cremated in, as well as his ashes scattered in Bali, Indonesia. Unfortunately, his body could not be transported to Bali for a cremation. But his ashes did.


Why a Direct Cremation?

Bowie had two main reasons why he wanted a direct cremation: an alternative to the traditional burial funeral and ceremony. For much of his life, he was a Buddhist. Cremation was the only chosen option for him.

Celebrating a Life

Traditional funerals and especially church services tend to focus on people mourning, penitence and forgiveness.  In addition, convention dictates attendees are dressed in black; a practice stemming back to Roman funerals where the family of the deceased wore a dark-coloured toga called a toga pulla. David Bowie did not want black to be the dominant colour, atmosphere or theme.

Most people today are not in favour of a mournful or sad service, memorial, or happening. A direct cremation followed by a Celebration of Life service seems to be a growing trend and more in keeping with our developing secular society.

For many, not wanting the deeply or potentially disturbing sight of leaving a coffin with their beloved on the catafalque in a crematorium and walking away can be distressing. For others it can be part of the closure procedure.

What is a Direct Cremation?

Once a person has died, their body is taken away to be cremated almost immediately. A day or so later an urn with their ashes are returned to the family. An urn (in whatever shape chosen) with a loved one’s ashes can be very consoling and reassuring.

This has many comforting and soothing advantages.

  • The loved one is taken care of immediately with arrangements underway and completed within a day or so – not possibly lingering for two-three weeks. A death is one of the most distressing, painful, and heart-wrenching times any of us will ever face. The organization, the planning, the ‘sorting’ out is done and completed with a Direct Cremation.
  • The Celebration of Life service is not confined to just the Crematorium and at the time of cremation.  Time to create a beautiful and fitting Celebration service can be taken. Nothing must be rushed. You have the ashes.
  • Each year the price of a funeral rises and generally above the rate of inflation. £3,500 to £7,000 is not uncommon for a funeral.  Direct cremations tend to be less than £1,700 in total.

How does one plan for a Direct Cremation?

There are three main routes.

  • A Funeral Director
    Many funeral directors have now introduced this option. It will be cheaper by not having an expensive coffin, a hearse, cortege cars, flowers and so forth.

  • Celebrant for Funerals
    A Celebrant can help, guide, and organize this complete process efficiently and professionally. They have contacts and will be able to act immediately. By selecting this option, a Celebration of Life service can begin to get underway with talking about your wishes, what the deceased would have liked and of course what the family would like.  The Celebration of Life service can be held at any time (days, weeks, or months ahead) and almost anywhere.

  • DIY
    Families can organize a Direct Cremation themselves. Researching options for price, location and so forth can be done. The ashes will be returned to an address of your choosing. Not all families may be in the right frame of mind to be able to cope with such fast and immediate actions needed.


Bowie has done a lot for the Direct Cremation option. It is a mind-set.

Whether it is an interment burial, a cremation or even a direct cremation you would like, the grieving process is the same and still hurts for just as long. If finances are an important factor, the cheapest option is the direct cremation process followed by crematorium cremation and finally burial.

Consider what your beloved would have liked.  There is never a right or, wrong option.