Direct Cremation vs Funeral Home Services: An Affordable Alternative

The cost of a traditional casket funeral with a viewing of the body and the use of a funeral home can be very expensive. The average in America is around $11,000. In some cases, a traditional funeral can cost much more.

Total Funeral Costs

Here is a breakdown of the typical expenses for a traditional funeral:

  • Cemetery Costs: An average cost for a burial plot is $3,000 to $5,000. The cost for opening or closing a grave is around $1,000. A simple marker for a grave costs $1,000. An elaborate headstone is about $2,000. Additional fees may be charged for maintenance.
  • Funeral Home Costs: Transfer of the body from a home or the hospital costs up to $350. The funeral director and staff is around $1,500. Embalming costs are $600 to $1,000.
  • Casket: A wooden casket is about $2,000. Steel caskets that are airtight cost up to $5,000.
  • Funeral Services: Viewing is usually about $1,000. Transportation of the casket by hearse, to the church or the memorial service and then to the gravesite, costs about $500. Additional limousines for other people in the funeral party cost up to $200 each.
  • Church or Memorial Services: The average cost for a ceremony is $1,000. Flowers add $300 to $500.
  • Reception: Rental of a space for the reception may run $300 to $500. Food and drinks add another $500 or more depending on the number of people invited.

When it all adds up, the bill can easily exceed $11,000 for a traditional funeral.

Total Cremation Costs

A simple direct cremation costs from $1,300 to $3,000 and usually includes the following:

  • Transportation of body from a home or hospital to the crematorium.
  • The cost of cremation services.
  • The crematory fees.
  • Any state fees for required permits.
  • A certified copy of the death certificate (extra copies are an additional cost).
  • A basic container for the ashes.
  • Delivery of the ashes to the next of kin or the executor of the estate.

Some like to add optional extras to the basic, simple, direct cremation that include using a cremation container to transport the body to the crematorium. This container goes along with the body into the oven to be cremated. These special containers are made of sturdy cardboard or wood. The wood may be covered with soft cloth. They cost around $350 to $500.

Another commonly desired item is an urn to hold the ashes. These can cost $50 to $300 if purchased from a crematorium. They can cost much more for customized work. One nice idea is to commission an artist to create the bust of the deceased person to serve as a physical reminder of them and to be a nice place to hold their ashes.

Cremation services have many advantages over traditional funerals. They offer more flexibility in scheduling the memorial service. A cremation has the added benefit of fewer restrictions on the location where the memorial services may be held. With cremation, there are many nice, natural settings that can be chosen to spread the ashes.