What Is Direct Burial? The Process and Key Facts

Published March 2, 2021
Casket at direct burial

A direct burial is an end-of-life option that you may be considering either for yourself or a loved one. Understanding what a direct burial is can help you make an informed decision.

Direct Burial

The purpose of a direct burial may be:

  • To have a burial quickly
  • To avoid planning a large funeral
  • To minimize funeral related expenses
  • To minimize funeral related planning stress
  • To give yourself time to plan a memorial or celebration of life at a later date
  • To simplify the burial process

What Is Direct Burial?

When you choose to have a direct burial:

  • There is no wake, viewing, funeral service, celebration of life, or memorial service prior to the burial.
  • The deceased individual's body is arranged to be buried very shortly after they have passed away.
  • Embalming is typically skipped.
  • A small service may be held post burial on the burial grounds.
  • A memorial service or celebration of life may be held at a later time.

What Is the Burial Process?

The burial process for a direct burial may look like:

  1. Body is transported to funeral home.
  2. Appropriate paperwork is filled out (death certificate filed and burial permits obtained).
  3. The body may be quickly viewed by the family before burial (which is not considered a wake or viewing).
  4. The body may or may not be refrigerated based on when the burial will take place.
  5. The body has likely not been embalmed, but may have been cleaned and dressed.
  6. Body is transported to burial ground.
  7. The body is placed in a simple casket and buried without a service beforehand.
  8. The family may choose to have a small service after the burial is complete.

What Is Direct Interment?

Direct interment is the act of placing the casket in the ground for burial. Burial and interment may be used interchangeably when referring to a direct burial.

How Much Does a Direct Burial Cost?

Direct burials cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000, which is significantly less expensive than the cost of a traditional funeral and burial. The cost is less expensive because:

  • There is likely no embalming.
  • There is no visitation or viewing.
  • There is no service beforehand.
  • If there is a service afterward, there are very few guests.
  • The burial container may be more simple and therefore less expensive.
  • There is no need to purchase floral arrangements, funeral programs, or any other decor since there won't be a memorial or funeral service.

Direct Burial Containers

Direct burial containers are typically simple caskets that cost around $2,000, although the price can fluctuate depending on what materials are chosen. You may select a less expensive casket since it won't be displayed during a funeral service, or to help keep costs down.

Arrange a Direct Burial

If you want to arrange a direct burial, connect with a funeral home and find out if they have a direct burial package. If you or your loved one don't already have a cemetery plot paid for, you will likely need to tour the grounds and select a plot. Once you've found a funeral home you trust and have a plot selected, the funeral director will file the appropriate paperwork and arrange for the direct burial to take place a day or two after your loved one has passed away.

Why Choose a Direct Burial?

Individuals may choose a direct burial for themselves or a loved one for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • Unable to gather due to pandemic or seasonal illnesses
  • Loved ones live too far away and are unable to travel for service
  • Want to plan a memorial or celebration of life at a later date
  • Want to keep expenses down
  • Your deceased loved one requested a direct burial as part of their final wishes
  • Want to decrease stress and keep the burial simple

Can You Be Buried Without a Funeral?

A funeral refers to the service that may take place when a loved one passes away, so you can absolutely be buried without a funeral service. This is referred to as a direct burial or direct interment.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Be Buried?

The most affordable way to be buried is by having a direct burial. Other low cost options include donating your body to science and direct cremation.

Buried Without Ceremony

There are many reasons why you or a loved one may choose to be buried without a funeral ceremony. Because this is such a personal decision, it's important to be well informed about what a direct burial is before planning one for yourself or a loved one.

What Is Direct Burial? The Process and Key Facts