When coping with the loss of a loved one we are faced with difficult decisions, impending deadlines and often, amounting costs. Fortunately, cremation costs can be a help with the later: dealing with final arrangements can be arduous enough without the unexpected burden of the costs associated with burial, the other most common choice. The costs associated with a burial can be so high that for most families it will be the third most expensive item they will ever purchase next to buying a home and automobile. Today the average funeral involving a burial costs between $5000 and $6000. Cremation costs can be, in many cases, far less than half of that.
Some services associated with a traditional ground burial are preparation of the body (embalming services and cosmetic alteration), transporting costs, use of mortuary equipment, a casket, flower arrangements, procession costs, plot or land purchase, headstone or grave marker costs, obituary placement, death certificate fee, funeral director fees, visitation and viewing, digging and refilling the grave, and the cost of final rites and services. When cremation is used in place of burial, many of these costs can be avoided entirely, meaning that a funeral involving cremation costs far less. It is no wonder cremation is fast becoming the more popular alternative to ground burials.
In 1987 cremation accounted for just over 15% of the disposal of remains. At this rate the practice of cremation should rise to almost 47% by 2010. The reason for such a dramatic increase in popularity is the continually rising costs of a ground burial. Simply put, cremation costs are far less than the average traditional burial, and can be executed with the same amount of tribute and decorum. Ultimately, the average cost of a standard cremation is about one-fifth that of the average ground burial. When choosing to have a loved one cremated, one must take into account the final wishes of the deceased. If cremation fits into the wishes of the person who has passed, the next step is to contact your local crematorium. The typical cremation cost, for the service itself, starts at about $500. This cost does not include transporting the body. If the body needs to be taken across state lines, it is necessary to contact the Transportation Security Administration as to inquire about having the body embalmed. Many states require this procedure prior to transporting a human body to another state. Having someone embalmed will cost about $350, but, in the vast majority of cases, embalming is not a necessary part of the cremation process.
One of the greatest expenses associated with a ground burial is the casket. One half of the cost of a traditional ground burial can be attributed to the cost of the casket. Funeral homes will be able to provide a wide selection of caskets but the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule permits you to purchase from a third party casket provider without being assessed any additional handling fees by the funeral home. It is not necessary to purchase anything but a wooden box for the transporting of the deceased to the crematorium. Once cremated, the facility will place the remains in a cardboard, wooden or metal box.
The final services can be performed prior to or after cremation. There are two ways this can be handled, and the total cremation costs are affected by this decision. Traditional funeral services can be held before the process of cremation. This allows surviving family members the same grieving time they would otherwise be allotted. Once the last rites have been given, cremation can then take place. Another way is to have a direct cremation where the body will be taken immediately to the crematorium, placed in a retort (or furnace), and incinerated. The final memorial service can be held afterwards. Depending on the wishes of the deceased and those involved in the final decisions, either procedure is acceptable. It is a common misconception that by cremating a loved one, the surviving family members are deprived a proper final farewell, and therefore are denied an essential part of closure of the grieving process. This could not be farther from the truth. The memorial services that are available to those who choose cremation are more varied than any existing traditional service. Among the memorial services offered today there are burials at sea, land burials, wind scattering, aerial scattering, and niche facilities. Again, the cremation costs associated with these types of decisions will vary, and families will do well to conduct a little research.
The most common type of memorial service associated with cremation is that of a land burial. Many organizations now provide Cremation Gardens or memorial parks where the ashes of a loved one can be spread. These Cremations Gardens offer such amenities as rolling hills, beautiful landscaping, trickling streams, and reverent markers that create a timeless memorial to our loved ones. Cremation Gardens are not required for cremation, but choosing one can add significantly to cremation costs. These services range in price from around $2000 to $10,000 depending on location.
Burials at sea are another very popular method of disposition. Early on burials at sea were at the mercy of the wind and condition of the sea. Today this type of burial is more trouble-free and unproblematic. These burials take place at least 3 miles off shore but can go out much farther depending on the wishes of the deceased and family members. Instead of the traditional scattering of the ashes many companies offering biodegradable urns that will dissolve in about 5 minutes. These floating urns carry the ashes within the body of the vessel while providing an area on top for flowers and personal tokens of farewell. On average these burials run from $395 to $650. Other types of burials at sea entail divers placing the urn at the bottom of the ocean floor. This burial starts at $650. Wind scatterings are yet another method of remain disposal, and the associated cremation costs is something to consider. Scattering a loved one’s ashes over a location that is scenic and holds a personal significance has always been a time honored tradition. However there is always a way to give a loved one that special farewell. One of the more ideal ways to scatter a loved one’s ashes is via a cremation scattering tube, which is a biodegradable urn that is specifically made to simplify the process of scattering the cremation ashes. Aerial memorials are now available to those that wish to say goodbye in the most unique way. Ashes can now be scattered from a Cessna airplane for about $450.
In closing, cremation costs are typically less than those for a traditional burial, but specifying an exact amount that one can expect to pay for a cremation is difficult and depends upon a variety of choices. Fortunately, however, cremation is an affordable option that allows us to extend our respects while still meeting the last wishes of those we love.