Funerals are expensive. No surprise there. Some funeral homes charge more than others which is why it is important for you to always compare funeral homes prices. One thing is for certain, burial funerals are significantly more expensive than cremation memorial services. In fact, the average burial funeral costs $7,200 while the average cremation funeral costs $3,200 according to the NFDA.
The question arises, why are burial funerals so expensive? To answer this question, you must first look at all the materials and operations that make a burial memorial service possible.
- headstone + engraving
- transportation fees for the casket
- grave lot
- grave digging fee
- mortician services
- opening and closing of the grave fee
- some cemeteries charge an annual fee for a grave plot
- memorial services
Compare this with cremation funerals:
- cremation of the body
- cremation urn
- memorial services
It is clear that cremation is the cheaper option. The question then becomes why on Earth would people choose burial considering you can save $4000 by choosing cremation. This is a complicated question. Many people choose burial funeral services because it is a tradition within the family. Another reason might just be personal preference.
Another very real reason why many families choose to have a loved one buried is because the funeral home pressures them to choose burial. It makes sense considering funeral homes are just like any other business. When the profit margins are higher for caskets and they can charge more for all the services associated with burials, why wouldn't they try and steer families toward this option?
I was speaking with a funeral director about memorial options for my mother who had just passed away. I was trying to plan an affordable funeral and the funeral director had given me a ‘general price list’ brochure with all the prices. On the very last page, towards the very bottom of the brochure was the cremation funeral prices. When I expressed my interest in having my mother cremated, his response was to inform me that they were having a 20% discount on funeral caskets. It just seemed like he was too ‘salesy’ for me and wasn’t considering my needs.
Ultimately funeral homes need to make enough money to stay in business. They are able to do this by overcharging for caskets and cremation urns. In 2017 we conducted a little research of our own into this issue. After surveying the prices of cremation urns for 29 different funeral homes in the Pennsylvania – New York area, we found the average cremation urn cost $379. Compare this with the prices of our urns and it is easy to see that funeral homes charge far more for memorial products. Families can save a considerable amount of money by shopping for these goods elsewhere. The Federal Trade Commission’s “Funeral Rule” ensures that every American has the right to provide their own casket or cremation urn for use by a funeral home. Specifically, the rule states that the funeral provider cannot refuse to handle a casket or urn you bought online, at a local casket store, or somewhere else — or charge you a fee to do it. This rule was put in place to prevent funeral homes from price gouging families.
If you find yourself in a position where you are planning a funeral, don’t let the funeral home decide the disposition method for you. If you want to choose burial then that is perfectly acceptable as long as you’re the one making the decision. If you feel you are being pressured to buy a more expensive funeral package or a pricier casket or urn, then you know that the funeral home might not be a good fit.
It is the funeral homes responsibility to accommodate you and your family in the aftermath of a death in the family. The funeral home should be compassionate, patient, and willing to help find a solution to your family’s specific needs. If the funeral director is more interested in squeezing every penny he or she can out of you, then it makes sense to find another funeral home that can provide your family with a great memorial service that is reasonably priced and as stress-free as possible during this difficult period of time in your life.