Cremation or burial? This is a question many people face when planning a funeral. There are pros and cons to both options, and it ultimately comes down to the preference of the individual or family. In general, cremation tends to be less expensive than burial. The cost of cremation vs burial varies by region. Speaking to your funeral home about the specific costs involved in each option will help you make the best decision for your loved ones and your wallet.

Funeral Pricing

Most funeral or final disposition costs cover the services desired before final disposition. The family incurs these costs with the Funeral Home, where services begin and end. 

There is not a set answer to how much a funeral will cost. Each family has their idea of what a funeral means to them and how much they would like to spend. After the decedent leaves the Funeral Home, the body goes to the final disposition.

Each Funeral Home sets its prices based on the market and competition.  The cost of a traditional funeral in the northeast may be higher than in the southeast. 

For example, a funeral in NY that costs $9,000-$11,000 may cost $7000-$9000 in North Carolina. A Direct Cremation can cost from $2000-$7000.

Examples of Funeral Costs

Traditional funerals with burial require specific products and services. An excellent funeral home will cover many services in their packages, including:

  • Basic Service Fee: for the funeral home to do paperwork and coordinate funeral activities.
  • Preparation of Remains: families may not require this. If the family wants a viewing, they will choose to embalm. With families spread out worldwide, the family may delay a funeral to allow for travel. Embalming is typically required when a family ships a decedent out of state or with a long delay before burial. Arlington National Cemetery typically measures delays in months.
  • Embalming: not required for cremations if the family will attend. Likewise, if the service is a Direct Burial, without any funeral home services or viewing, then embalming is not required.
  • Dressing, cosmetics, and casket
  • Transportation/Livery Charges: Removal of the body from a facility or home to the Funeral Home upon death with a hearse. May involve delivery or pickup from the airport.
  • Supervision and Use of Facility for Visitation, Funeral Ceremony or Memorial service

Cash advance charges are paid for by the funeral home on the family’s behalf. They include:

  • Cemetery
  • Crematory Clergy
  • Death Certificates 
  • Flowers
  • ME Services
  • Grave Opening
  • Obituary
  • Live streaming 

Final Disposition and Costs

After the funeral, the final disposition occurs. A final disposition is what happens to the body after the funeral. Burial and Cremation are the primary forms of Final Disposition, each having advantages and disadvantages.

  • Cremation: When a family chooses cremation, many of the same charges as described above could apply. For example, suppose a family decides to have a visitation or Memorial Service at the Funeral Home before a cremation. In that case, it will cost more than a direct cremation with no services. The least expensive funeral is a Direct Cremation in which the family needs no funeral home services.
  • Cremation with Burial: People often bury cremated remains in an urn vault. A burial place allows the family to have one central location to share their thoughts and prayers with the decedent.
  • Traditional In-ground Burial: A family chooses to buy a cemetery plot, gravestone, and outer vault or buy a mausoleum space at a local cemetery.
  • Green Burial: With green burial, there is no need for embalming. It is like a Jewish Funeral, using a biodegradable casket often with no hardware or only a simple shroud. Cemeteries don’t widely offer Green Burials. Check with them or call a local Funeral Home to advise which cemeteries offer a Green Burial. 

Deciding what to do with a loved one’s remains after they die can be difficult. Factors to consider include the cost of services, caskets, or urns. Additional charges associated with cremation and burial can also add up. There are many factors to consider when it comes to the cost of cremation vs burial. However, there are average costs for each.

Don’t Fall For Tricks

A basic service package at a funeral home may cost over $4,000 and still not include necessary services. Funeral homes that don’t give you specifics may offer cheap so-called “all-inclusive” packages that only cover:

  • Use of funeral home for visitation (wake) and funeral or memorial service
  • Paperwork: death certificate, medical signatures, registration with authorities
  • Funeral Director: provides what you need for all services and is your point of contact for questions or concerns.
  • Arrangements with your chosen cemetery or cremation provider (not payment, though)

A basic package at a bargain basement funeral home does not typically include:

  • Transportation of the body
  • Casket
  • Embalming
  • Preparing the body for a service

Depending on your choices, you can pay a significant amount for a funeral. However, considering your options wisely can help quite a bit with cost. When you choose burial, the price of a casket or urn can be the most significant, especially if you choose an expensive model.

Cremation Packages

A cremation may cost less overall, depending on which services and amenities you choose. Without any of the above services, you may find a direct cremation provider for $1,585. However, most people need other services or items. 

 For example, you may choose an urn to memorialize a loved one. You can spend as much as you want on an urn, and many families select an urn handed down for generations. Urns start at about $50 and go up from there. A quick look on Amazon shows an urn for $17,462.73.

Cremation providers offer packages with different items included and at various price points. When you purchase a package, crematoriums typically include services such as:

  • The use of their chapel for the service
  • A rental casket (or the option to use your own casket)
  • Staff to assist with the service
  • Preparation of the body

Final arrangements are made through the crematorium (some funeral homes have a crematory on-site) and do not include the cost of a burial plot or urn.

Comparing Cost of Cremation vs Burial

When you compare cremation vs burial, it’s essential to look at all the factors involved. The direct cremation provider may be less expensive, but you’ll still need to purchase an urn. If you choose burial with a costly casket, this can drive up the cost of a burial.

According to USA Today, “The least-expensive option is typically a… “direct cremation” with minimal ceremony. Cremations can also include family participation, and timing can be arranged before or after other memorial services.”

Most funeral homes don’t cover the cost of direct cremation services. Instead, they send bodies to a direct cremation provider. However, some funeral homes do offer direct cremation on-site.

The Best of Both Worlds

A select few funeral homes offer all-inclusive packages that do cover everything you need for a funeral with burial or cremation (other than burial plot and outer vault purchased through the cemetery).

Look for a funeral home that has all-inclusive packages spelled out in detail right on their website. This way, you know what you are paying for upfront. Also, talk with a funeral director about any questions or concerns. They are there to help.

A funeral home that offers both basic burial packages and direct cremation packages gives you the most flexibility. A funeral home with an on-site crematory provides everything you need to make a plan.

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, we understand how important it is to make the best choice for you and your loved ones. That’s why we have an on-site crematory to care for those who choose cremation. We also spell out our all-inclusive packages for you. Our basic burial packages and direct cremation packages give you the most flexibility.

When deciding between cremation and burial, it’s essential to consider all the factors involved. Cost is one of those factors, but it’s not the only one to consider. Talk with us about any questions or concerns you may have. We would be honored to serve you and your loved ones during this difficult time.



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