With half of the population now choosing cremation over traditional burial, it is important to know some important facts about this valuable service provided by funeral directors. A common question is how much does cremation cost? It seems like such a simple question that should have a straightforward answer. But, most people have no idea what actually is involved in cremation. If you consider all the factors that affect the price of cremation, you would understand that the answer to that question is not that cut and dry. Consumers should really think about the kind of funeral or gathering they want and if they want to spend time with the deceased either privately or publicly. Let’s consider some of the factors that will affect the cost of cremation.
Who You Gonna Call
Funeral Homes – Mortuaries – Cremation Societies – Crematories – Cremation Brokers
Don’t wait till the death has occurred to try and figure out which professionals you will hire to assist with funeral and cremation arrangements. Who you call might depend on what kind of services your families needs. Your local funeral home is always a good place to start. Many funeral homes also own their own crematory and more important they are trained to explain the many options available when it comes to cremation. Understand that when you ask a funeral director “How much for cremation” He or she will need more information to understand what and if you know what you want. They are not trying to Up-Sell you they just need to better understand the unique needs of your family and what you expectations are. Cremation is just a final disposition like burial is a final disposition. You wouldn’t expect an answer to “How much for a funeral” They might give you a price range but ultimately YOU will has to make some decisions and pick some options to determine a realistic price quote. It’s okay to negotiate! I recently was helping a friend choose a professional. They liked the people they met at the local funeral and received a price quote for a direct cremation for $2850.00 we told them about a cremation Society that was 30 miles away that would do it for $1500.00 and the local funeral matched the price! Beware of Google search results that often have online discounters disguised as local cremation clubs or societies. These companies are usually just cremation brokers that do not own any facilities anywhere and simply connect you with real professionals that you could have dealt with directly! Many funeral homes have their own so called “Cremation Societies” Sort of an alter ego that funeral homes have online to compete on price. For direct cremation these can be the best option. I worked at Hanson Walbridge funeral home in Bennington Vermont. If someone called the funeral homes phone number they would get a price quote from the funeral home BUT if you called their Cremation Society of Vermont phone number (Same phone different button) same people same service much cheaper price!
The cost of cremation is affected by the transportation costs. You have to consider the transporting of the body from where the person passed away to the funeral home or the crematory of choice. Is the funeral going to be held at a church or other location besides the funeral home or will you prefer a memorial type gathering following the cremation. Will the ashes need to be mailed somewhere? All of this affects the price.
Storage of the Body
A body isn’t always cremated upon arrival to the crematory. The reasons for this can vary. Some states have laws stating a certain amount of time must pass before a body can be cremated and a funeral home may charge for refrigeration (by the day). Families may delay making final decisions or need to wait for someone to arrive from out of town that wants a chance to say their final goodbyes. If the death involves a criminal investigation extra storage fees may be applied. All of this affects the price.
The cost of the actual cremation stays relatively consistent.This is the actual charge from the crematory and crematories generally do not deal directly with the public. Some factors, such as an unusually large person, might increase the cost of the cremation.
Disposition of The Ashes
How the family chooses to handle the cremated remains. The family may choose to bury the remains in a burial plot. In this situation, the cost of cremation is fairly expensive because burial plots can be expensive. A headstone marker will also likely be purchased if a burial of the cremated remains is selected. Another option that the family might choose is to store the remains in a cremation urn or use special urns for scattering ashes called scattering urns. Urns can cost as little as $100 or more than $1,000. People may choose to have the ashes become part of a piece of memorial art or cremation jewelry or even shot out of a hand held cannon called “The Loved One Launcher”! All of this affects the price.
Based on the factors discussed above, it is easy to see why cremation costs can vary greatly. There is no straight answer as to how much a cremation will cost. An experienced funeral director will discuss all the options that come with cremation and help the family decide what is best for them and their loved one. “Direct Cremation” is a term used for the most very basic of cremation services that simply gets the job done and does not involve any special arrangements for viewings, funeral memorials or burials. If you ask about the cost of a basic direct cremation you should get an instant price quote! And depending on who you call prices vary wildly for $595.00 to $4,595.00 with about $1500.00 – $2500.00 being about average. It should include all of the arrangements and permits for getting legally cremated in a cardboard box and receiving the ashes in a temporary cardboard or plastic container. For any special request beyond these basics, expect to pay more. If a funeral director quotes a price for direct cremation that does not include the cost of the actual cremation by a third party crematory or transportation……RUN! Because a direct cremation quote should include everything to get the job done and to not is a deceptive practice know as price baiting or the old bait and switch!
Cremation offers freedom to choose how to handle the service. There can be a very simple service where family and friends gather to fondly remember their loved one. Perhaps the family wants to remember the deceased in a big way and elect to have an elaborate, fancy service. When the time comes, the family has the freedom to keep the ashes in a beautiful urn or to scatter the ashes. They may decide that burying the ashes would be beneficial so that all of the loved ones have a place to visit and remember the deceased. They can choose to bury the ashes in a cemetery or a private lot. The possibilities of how to handle the cremation ashes are endless.
With a traditional funeral service, time is of the essence. Because the service must take place within a matter of days, plans may be made in haste, adding to the stress of an already grieving family. But, with cremation, there is no urgency to bury the body. The family will have ample time to plan a lovely memorial service to remember their loved one. Maybe the service needs to be delayed due to out of town family members and friends. On a personal note from my 30 years of experience there is such thing as waiting too long to conduct a memorial service. The sooner the better! Funerals are for the living and serve as the best way to let friends and family support each other in their grief so they can have a healthy transition from the loss. People sometimes wait months, for example waiting until spring when inconvenienced by a winter death. Think days and weeks but don’t stretch it out for more then a month, or it defeats the whole purpose.
Is Embalming Needed?
NO! But if you request a public viewing almost all funeral homes will require embalming. If you want a short private family viewing in the immediate days following a death embalming should not be required but a simple clean up and sanitization type of preparation should be done to make a nice final presentation to say the goodbyes. Most people don’t want to think about the embalming process and may look to alternatives such as cremation just to avoid this.
Instead of having a formal funeral service with a viewing, the family can choose to have a simple memorial service. with photographs of their loved one. It can be a time to share stories and celebrate their loved one’s life and how they lived. A cremation can be as simple or elaborate as the family wishes. Perhaps the deceased was a simple person who led a simple life. Therefore, the family may want to choose cremation and have a simple service to reflect their loved one’s life.
Is cremation really what you want? This question can cause a lot of stress and they may wonder if they are making the right decision. This really should have been answered before the death occurred but if you are still not sure then consider all of the options. This is when a funeral director will step in and assist in answering questions and helping a family decide if cremation is right for their deceased loved one. While death remains an uncomfortable subject for most people, loved ones can be comforted in knowing that they are making the right choices when it comes to handling their loved one’s remains. A funeral director knows that family members are at their most vulnerable when making the funeral arrangements. With this in mind, he or she will explain all of the options available so that the family can make informed decisions.