There are many reasons people choose cremation over a traditional funeral or burial. One of those reasons is the assumed lower costs associated with cremation, which is thought to cost about one third of the price of what a traditional burial may cost, and therefore often feels like a more feasible option for many. Depending on the details of a burial services, costs can range from $5,000 to more than $10,000, whereas cremation costs are assumed to cost between $1,000 – $3,000.
However, it is important to understand the various types and levels of cremation services and the costs associated with them. While you may or may not choose to include all services provided by your funeral home or crematorium, it is helpful to understand the variety of end-of-life services available, so you can make the choices that make the most sense for you and your loved one.
Available Cremation Services
Traditional cremation services typically involve more in-depth services than direct cremation services. Direct cremation is simply a disposition of human remains by cremation without any of the traditional funeral services, such as a viewing or memorial ceremony.
Because traditional cremation includes services similar to a traditional burial, it often requires additional staff and equipment than the simpler direct cremation services. Some of the services to consider include:
Though embalming is not typically required for a cremation, it is required when a family chooses a public service prior to cremation, and where there is an open casket present. Embalming services typically include washing, disinfecting, dressing, casketing, and a variety of other body preparation tasks. Fees for body preparation may start under $500, while standard embalming fees or embalming after an autopsy can be over $1,000.
- General Staff Services
The price of funeral home and crematorium staff services will vary based on the specific services chosen, but services often include: family consultation, authorization documentation, certificates, permits, and appropriate overhead costs. The price of these services varies, as they may or may not be included in the pricing for specific service packages. Be sure to ask your funeral home what is included and what is an additional cost.
- Urns, Vaults, Fiberboards and Caskets
Cremation urns can range in cost from $75 to more than $2,000. In some cases, you may also want to purchase a vault to surround the urn, though it is not required. Fiberboards are a lower cost alternative to a casket or vault, ranging anywhere from $15 to $800. While caskets are not required for a cremation, if your family chooses to hold a public service with the body present, you will need one. Prices for caskets vary based on a variety of factors. A more economical option may be to rent a casket for the viewing.
- Additional Staff and Equipment
If you have a church service along with the cremation, this may require additional staff for coordinating and directing the service, transportation, flowers, obituary placement, and more. If you choose to follow more of a traditional burial service with your cremation, the pricing will start to mirror that of a traditional funeral. However, the costs may still be slightly lower, especially if your funeral home offers value package pricing options.
- Weekends and Holidays
Many funeral homes and crematoriums offer the option of holding a viewing, service or gathering on a weekend day, or even on a holiday. However, it’s important to consider that there will typically be an additional charge for services offered during these times.
- Gatherings, Ceremonies and Function Rooms
Pricing will also vary depending on whether you choose to hold a general gathering or have a more traditional ceremony. Additional potential costs to consider include any fees for function rooms, catering, and other costs associated with holding a gathering with friends and family members before, after, or during a service.
- Monuments and Memorials
If you’d like to include a special memorial or monument at your loved one’s graveside, there are often additional costs associated with these services and merchandise. Granite monuments and bronze memorials typically start at about $200.
- Shipping and Scattering of Cremated Remains
If a loved one dies out of town, out of state, or overseas, there may be an additional cost to ship their remains to the site where they will be buried. Prices depend on whether the remains are being shipped domestically or internationally. Scattering of cremated remains by a 3rd party is also an option, and prices depend on the organization and where the ashes are being scattered. You can ask your funeral home for options and recommendations.
While cremation can be a low-cost alternative to traditional burial and funeral services, this may not always be the case. Your local funeral home or crematorium should be able to provide you with a list of available services and pricing, so you can make the best choice for your budget and your loved one.