What Is The Cost of Economical Burial Services, Not Cremation

December 19th, 2012

Ask The Funeral Expert:

Cost of economical burial services, not cremation.

Please can you email me the information at this time. I am not ready to discuss this over the phone. Thanks Bob

Funeral Expert Reply:


Depending on where you live and the funeral services and goods you need, burial costs can vary. Although I can’t give you a specific price for your area,  I can help you understand how funeral costs are based.  With this information, you will be able to plan an economical burial through a funeral home in your area.

First, the Federal Trade Commission (United States) has established a regulation for the funeral industry called The Funeral Rule. This rule basically establishes the right of the consumer to buy funeral goods and services separately. Every funeral home is required by law to furnish, if asked, a written price list for goods and services offered.  This means that unless specified by law, you are not required to purchased certain goods or services for burial. Also, funeral directors are required by law not to mis-lead consumers about what is required by law.  What particular goods and services required for burial are governed individually by state under their “Deposition of the Dead” laws. Most states have a governmental website where you can find the requirements. So you may want to check your states requirements before contact a funeral home in your area.

Most Economical Burial Option

So the most economical burial, not involving cremation, is direct burial. With this type of burial service, you pay only for the basic service fee, storage fee, casket and transportation to the cemetery.  In this case, the body is not embalmed (no state requires embalming if the funeral remains in the state) and there is no visitation or funeral service. However, you may be required to pay extra for the cemetery plot, grave opening/closing and the grave marker.

What is the basic Service Fee?

The basic service fee which includes planning of the funeral, the permits, (1) death certificate, preparation of death notice, storage of the remains and co-ordination with the cemetery can be as low as $500 and as high as $3000.

Extra death certificates can cost between $10 to $15 per copy. You will need at least 1 copy. If you are the beneficiary of the deceased’s life insurance, social security or pension plans, you will need a death certificate for each.

Some funeral homes charge extra for death notices and obituaries over a certain amount of content.

Casket and Burial Vault Requirements

Casket pricing is determined by the type and features of the casket.   Wood caskets in particular pine caskets are often the least expensive. Metal caskets are the most expensive, but not required for burial. Casket prices can range from $500 to $15,000.

Burial vaults and grave liners are not required by any U. S. state. However, some cemeteries require a burial vault or grave liner.  Burial vaults can range from $800 to $14,000.

Cemetery Plots, Opening/Closing, Grave Markers

Every cemetery has its own pricing schedule, but a national range for plots is between $400 to $10,000.

The opening and closing of a grave usually runs between $300 to $1000.

Depending on how elaborate, what type of material and/or the size of the grave marker, the price can fluctuate greatly.

Contacting a Funeral Home in Your Area

Hopefully the information above will help you discuss your burial options with a funeral home in your area. Please let me know if I can help you find a funeral home in your area.

Catholic Views on Cremation

July 22nd, 2011

Burying the dead goes back to the early Christian times. The early Catholic Church openly forbid cremation for centuries because of the belief that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Cremation was seen as a pagan practice that denied the doctrine and faith in resurrection. Early Catholicism viewed burial as a symbol of  hope for resurrection, as well as a continuance of early Christian traditions.

Only in the last 50 years has Catholicism accepted cremation as a means of final disposition. In 1963 the Vatican lifted the ban on cremation for Catholics. Cremation then became a practice allowed under certain  circumstances, providing that the reasons did not counter Christian beliefs.

The Church once used very strict rules for funeral services and sacraments in the event of cremation. The Church did not allow cremated remains (also known as cremains) to be present in the church during the celebration of mass or any prayer vigil. The body had to be present for all services before cremation.

The Order of Catholic Funerals was three separate, and ideally, sequential rites to celebrate the end of one’s life in the flesh, and the beginning of a new one in spirit:

  • Prayer Vigil – a short prayer service that takes place during the time immediately following death.
  • Mass – a celebration in the funeral liturgy.
  • Rite of Committal – another short prayer service held at the cemetery or place of internment.

The ideal sequence of the three is: the vigil, funeral mass and then the rite of committal.

In 1997, the Vatican granted permission for cremated remains to be present for mass and  rite of committal, making Catholic cremation more openly available to families in need. The Church still recommends traditional burial. However, Catholic cremation has quickly gained popularity, and is seemingly necessary for many Catholic families. The reasons for cremation differ, but cost is by far the most common.

Keeping with The Church’s traditions of the sacredness of human life, there are still strict rules on the sanctity of human ashes:

  • The cremated human remains (cremains) shouldn’t be scattered, divided among family or kept at a home.
  • Cremains should be treated with respect, and laid to rest in a cemetery, either in a grave or mausoleum.

According to the Cremation Association of North America cremation rates in the United States have risen from 5% (from nearly 20 years ago) to 39-45% as of 2008. It is estimated that Catholic cremation has risen to approximately 15-20% in the last ten years.

Special Thank you to Shehan365 For the beautiful picture via Flickr.

Traditional Asian Funeral Etiquette

July 16th, 2011

Asian Funeral with Alter

Funeral customs vary greatly in the Asian culture.  The following article refers mostly to traditional Chinese funeral customs.  

If you are attending an Asian Funeral, there are a few rules of etiquette that are very important to follow. The burial process of someone who has passed is taken very seriously in Chinese society. Asian culture teaches that someone who is buried without the proper funeral customs will bring bad luck and disaster to the family. Cremation among traditional Asians is very rare.

Asian culture uses beauty and respect throughout their funeral services. Every detail is covered and has special meaning behind it. The traditions they use have been passed from generation to generation to make the end-of-life transition more beautiful.

What To Expect When Attending An Asian Funeral

The funeral process and rites are based on how traditional the family is, as well as age, social status, and marital status.

Tradition teaches that an elder is not to show respect to someone who is younger. So, if the funeral is for a younger person, their body cannot be brought home (as is custom for an older person). This also goes for an infant or child. The services will be held at the funeral parlor, in a way similar to western funerals.  Since no respect can be shown, there are no vigils, prayers or offerings made, the service and burial will be made in silence.

Wake or Viewing at An Asian Funeral

Traditional Asian funerals will be held at the home of the deceased. If the death occurred inside the home, the casket and service will be held inside. If the death occurred outside of the home, the casket and service will be in a courtyard near the home. Wreaths, flowers and a picture of the deceased will sit on top of the coffin.

Traditional funerals last for 49 days, with the first 7 being the most important. However, if the family doesn’t have the financial means, the funeral will last 3-5 days with the first day being the most significant.
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Cemetery Monument and Headstone Options

September 28th, 2010

Planning a funeral seems like a difficult task.  With all different types, shapes, sizes, flower placement styles and cremation burial options available it can seem impossible to select a memorial that is meant to enshrine your loved one’s memory for eternity.  In the next several sections, different types and styles of cemetery monuments have been described that should make selection during a difficult time easier.

Companion Monuments

Companion headstones usually sit on a family plot and are meant to memorialize more than one person.  While these monuments are typically meant for two people, they can be enlarged to allow for the names of more family members.

Companion headstone with vase and traditional companion headstoneCompanion monuments can come in an upright or flat style.  We will mention all the flat, slanted and bevel styles further down in this article.  When thinking of purchasing this monument, consider whether or not you would like to be able to place flowers on the headstone.

There are many flower options that exist for companion monuments.  One such option is an interconnecting vase between the two sides of the companion headstone.  Another option is to have one large double monument with flower vases on either side.  There can also be an inlaid space at the top of the monument that allows for flowers to be easily placed on top.

A final option could be a monument with no designated space for flowers and one could purchase a wire flower saddle.  The wire flower saddle straddles the cemetery monument at the top and allows for easy flower placement on an upright headstone.

Individual Monuments

Individual MonumentsIndividual monuments are meant to be memorials for one person.  As with companion headstones, individual markers come in flat or upright styles and have flower placement options.

There can be two separate vases along either side of the  individual marker, an indented space can be made available at the top of the headstone, or a wire flower saddle can be placed upon the individual gravestone.

Individual headstones have space on them for a design, the name and dates of your loved one.


Bevel, Slant, and Flat Monuments

Bevel and slant headstonesBevel and slant cemetery monuments are meant to sit at the head or foot of a grave.  A bevel monument is flat and a slanted monument sits upright at a slight angle.  The design of the bevel or slant monument is to allow one to read the marker when approaching the grave memorial.

These headstones can be small enough for just one name or large enough to be a companion monument.  What makes the slant and bevel headstone different from a traditional flat marker is that a base is located beneath the monument.

Flat headstoneThis allows the marker to be lifted, making it more visible and also keeping lawnmowers back. Flower vases can also be placed at one side of these markers to allow for convenient flower placement.

This type of monument is large enough to put an engraving of a small design, as well as the  full name and dates of your loved one.

Flat markers, like slanted and bevel cemetery monuments can be small enough for just one name or enlarged to be a companion style.

They are similar to slant and bevel styles except that there is no base located beneath the monument. They are at ground level allowing lawnmowers to mow over them.

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Cremation Urns – Styles and Uses

July 9th, 2010

Cremation urns are containers (similar to vases) that hold the cremains (ashes) of your loved one after cremation. They are typically used as  keepsake urns, but are also made for burial uses as well. Urns can be intricately designed, embellished with etchings and colors, or they can be simple and elegant.

Metal Cremation UrnIf you are opting to store the ashes of your deceased loved one in an urn, it is an important decision to think about. This vessel will carry the cremains of someone very dear to your heart, so you want to find something that would honor their life. Also known as “keepsake urns,” cremation urns are typically given to the closest relative to guard and protect.

Styles of Urns

Cremation urns are made in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and designs. You can honor your fallen soldier, child, and even family pet with specialized cremation urns. The urns are made out of a variety of materials, such as ceramic, rich woods (like maple, cherry and mahogany), glass, leather, metal and stone.

There are many skilled artisans who handcraft special keepsake urns for your loved ones. If you wish, you could find a company who will customize the urn to help you better remember and honor those who have passed on. Most artists will create (time and money willing) any type/color/shape of urn to fulfill your special needs.

The newest trends for urns use natural materials that are not harmful to the environment. There are even biodegradable urns that can be tossed into a lake or ocean, where the ashes will eventually disperse.

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What Are Cremation Services?

July 8th, 2010

Planning a funeral for a loved one is not an easy task. The process can be especially emotional when you are unsure of how to fulfill the wishes of your friend or family member. This is especially true when a family member requests cremation as a substitute for a more traditional burial service.

Many people are choosing cremation over a more traditional burial. Yet, their loved ones have no clue how to plan a cremation service in a way that honors the deceased or what cremation entails. You may feel lost and alone when it comes to cremation or planning the service, but you are not. If you are faced with this daunting issue, I urge you to read further for tips and traditions related to cremation services.

What Constitutes A Cremation Service?

If your loved one has requested cremation, there are many ways to honor their remains. Cremation services have become a renowned and respectable way to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away.

After the cremation, which is a precise process performed by specialized individuals, the ashes (also known as cremains) are delivered to the designated funeral home. Common ceremonial activities involving the ashes include scattering, burial or placement in a mausoleum, and presentation of the ashes in a cremation urn to the family.

Cremation Memorial Services

The most common ceremony associated with cremations are memorial services. This service is a way for loved ones to grieve the life lost, to say goodbye, or to celebrate the life lived. When it comes to a memorial service, you will want to think about how the service can best honor the life of your loved one.  During the memorial service, you can display pictures and/or items that honor and celebrate the life of the deceased. Cremation urns are are often displayed during this service.  As with a traditional burial service, many people choose to send funeral flowers and plants as a way to offer their condolences at this service. This type of cremation service is typically performed at a religious location or a place with special significance to the deceased.

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