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How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

Funeral costs vary considerably depending on your geographic location, the funeral home you choose and the selections you make.

Except in certain cases, when making funeral arrangements, the type of disposition (burial or cremation) initially needs to be determined. Even if the deceased chose donation as their end-of-life option, there is still a final form of disposition that must take place, and therefore needs to be selected. A burial is often more expensive than cremation due to the added cost of a burial plot, as well as grave opening and closing fees charged by the cemetery. However, selecting burial or cremation is not the only factor that will drive the cost of the funeral. Funeral costs are mostly controlled by how you choose to memorialize.  

When arranging a funeral, some memorialization options that will be presented to you are: gatherings (often referred to as “viewings” or “wakes”), funeral services (services with the body present), memorial services (services without the body present), and graveside services (services at the cemetery or crematory).

The decisions you make about how to memorialize the deceased will ultimately effect the care and preparation needed, which will determine the cost. For example, if you choose to have a gathering with the deceased present, in most cases, the body will be required to be embalmed which comes with a price tag of about $712*.

There are also more specific selections that you can choose regarding the preparation of the deceased, and each of these offerings comes at a cost. Some examples of these services include dressing, casketing & cosmetizing. Essentially, the more services you request, the higher your funeral bill will be.

Merchandise will also be offered to you. The term “merchandise” in a funeral home includes goods like clothing, memorial cards/books and DVD tributes, as well as items with bigger price points such as caskets, urns and vaults. Due to the fact that a casket can be a major expense, many funeral homes today now offer rental caskets. A rental casket is a casket that has a removable interior where the body is placed in a plain box and the box is placed inside the casket. The box is easily removed after the service and can be buried or cremated leaving the exterior of the casket for reuse.

Typically, the least expensive funeral options are the immediate burial or direct cremation packages that are offered by most funeral homes. If you choose one of these packages, there is no gathering or service facilitated at or by the funeral home.

There are several ways to research funeral costs prior to making funeral arrangements. One helpful way to prepare is to utilize the free, interactive online funeral builder tool provided by Funeral Matters: There, you can access actual funeral pricing based on the service options you choose. Knowing what prices to expect beforehand will reduce selection error and cost confusion later.

*Average price based on current Funeral Matters subscribers.