Traditional funeral laid to rest in Sheffield

The traditional, religious funeral is on its way out, according to the UK’s largest funeral trends report from leading funeral director Co-op.  

Based on insight from its funeral directors from over 500,000 funerals conducted in the last five years and the views of 4000 UK adults, the report reveals what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to funerals.  

Only one in seven Sheffield adults would choose a traditional, religious service. One in three (36%) want their friends and family to have a get together to celebrate their life as opposed to a traditional service, whilst a third (34%) don’t want any fuss made at all.

Supporting the view that the traditional service isn’t set to last a lifetime, two fifths (39%) of adults in the city think funerals will become more informal in the future and a fifth (19%) see the wake as becoming more significant than the funeral service itself. 

This expectation from the nation holds true as insight from the Co-op reveals a staggering shift towards direct to cremation, a less conventional style of funeral. Now, one in 25 funerals arranged by Co-op are of this ilk, showing that less people are choosing traditional services and more are opting for the David Bowie inspired send off.


In response to this non-traditional goodbye taking off, the way we commemorate and celebrate those who’ve passed is changing.  

Four fifths (82%) of funerals conducted by Co-op are now cremations and whilst burying ashes in the ground of a crematorium is still the go to for almost a third (32%) of Sheffield adults, Co-op’s insight shows a shift in more people opting for unique ways when dealing with a loved one’s ashes. In the last year people choosing to put ashes into jewellery keepsakes has increased by a fifth (21%) with most popular choices being tribute rings, paperweights and pendants.  

Scattering during a skydive, reaching heights through a firework and steaming through the atmosphere via the furnace of a train are some of the most unique ways Co-op’s funeral directors have known families pay tribute to a loved one. 

Top 10 most unique ashes tributes  

  1. Inside the furnace of a steam train  
  2. Putting them inside a firework  
  3. Creating a tattoo  
  4. Scattering during a skydive  
  5. Sent up over the sea inside a balloon  
  6. Putting them in a model aeroplane  
  7. Taking them around the world  
  8. Putting them inside a car so they can always travel with them  
  9. Keeping them inside a rucksack so they could be carried everywhere  
  10. Scattering at a USA baseball ground 

The location we remember late loved ones is now more important than many traditional elements that make up a funeral.  

In the last five years, the use of pallbearers to carry coffins has dropped by four fifths (78%). Requests to arrange obituaries have declined by over a third (37%) and asks for traditional limousines have declined by a sixth (16%).  

Meanwhile, the destination funeral has taken off. Three quarters (77%) of Co-op’s funeral directors say requests for ceremonies to take place outside of traditional religious settings have increased. 

Yet a third (37%) of adults in Sheffield said they didn’t know such a thing was even possible. When given the option of a non-traditional funeral destination, almost a quarter (23%) said they’d like their send off in the countryside. A fifth (19%) would choose their favourite beauty spot and further fifth would choose to have their final farewell on the beach.  

Top 10 up and coming destinations for Sheffield funerals  

  1. 23% want theirs in the countryside 
  2. 19% would choose a favourite beauty spot  
  3. 19% would consider a beach  
  4. 17% would opt for a mountain 
  5. 17% would have it at their house 
  6. 15% would want it by a river 
  7. 13% would want theirs by a lake  
  8. 13% would choose their own garden  
  9. 11% would head out to sea for it 
  10. 9% would choose a football ground 

Further evidencing that the traditional funeral will soon be a distant memory, over four fifths (86%) of Co-op’s funeral directors say that people are more open now to unique and personalised aspects of funerals than they were five years ago.  

As a nation of animal lovers, it’s perhaps no surprise that three fifths (57%) of funeral directors have had requests for pets to be present at funerals, whether that be leading the hearse, attending the service or joining the wake. 

A third (31%) have tailored entire funerals around a deceased’s hobby, from football to ballroom dancing and everything in between, whilst a sixth (15%) have arranged a super-hero themed funeral. 

Despite this, evidence showing a rapidly changing landscape for funerals, over half (52%) of Sheffield adults haven’t done anything by way of sharing their wishes with anyone and less than one in twenty (5%) have put their wishes in a funeral plan. 

Vic Reeves, Funeral Director at Dinnington Co-op Funeralcare, said: “It’s safe to say that people are thinking outside the box more when it comes to funerals, whether that be planning their own, or arranging one for a loved one. 

“More so now than ever we’re seeing that people want to celebrate life and the ways in which we can help them do that are endless.  

“Over the years, we’ve certainly seen our fair share of perhaps unusual requests. One of the quirkiest asks I’ll always remember was to include an electric guitar and a meerkat toy in a coffin. It’s those personal touches that make a funeral truly unique and we feel privileged to be able to help families with that.” 

Ricky Tomlinson, actor, comedian and author commented: “Personally, I’m not a fan of a ‘suited and booted’ funeral. I’ve been to ones where there has been a ‘knees up’ feel and that somehow seems to make the family feel more at ease.  

“I think it’s only right that we get to choose how we exit this world – whether that be in a firework, in bright colours or dancing around with our loved ones.”

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