The funeral service industry is currently estimated to be a $17 billion a year industry, and the average traditional funeral service costs between $8,000 and $12,000. This makes it one of the highest expenses a family faces, and it comes during what is arguably the most emotional point in their lives. But, what exactly comprises this $8,000 and up figure? Below is a breakdown of the components of a typical traditional funeral, and the average cost of each.
First, though, the family of the deceased should know their basic rights: the funeral director should provide them with price information on the telephone, and he must give them an itemized price list when they visit in person. That way, they can choose the goods and services that they want and can afford without the pressure of upselling.
Traditional Funeral Service
The coffin can be the most expensive part of the funeral cost, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. We all would love to know the bodies of our loved ones are being interred in a beautiful casket. But, for most situations, it is neither necessary nor practical. A casket can cost as much as $12,000 by itself, or as little as $250 for a simple pine box. When deciding on a casket, the family should keep in mind that funeral homes mark up their caskets by up to 300%. After all, funeral directors are compassionate, but typically, they are neither clergy nor quasi-clergy. They are businessmen.
If you would like to have a traditional funeral service, but simply cannot afford a high priced coffin, or want to use the money toward a quality headstone, consider purchasing an inexpensive coffin and covering it in a flag, religious shroud or quilt.
For those who would like to buy a nice coffin for their deceased loved one, but are interested in saving money on its purchase, it’s in their best interests to shop around. Caskets are available online as well, from specialty stores, and even big box stores like Costco and Walmart. When they go that route, they can literally save thousands of dollars on this single item purchase.
Rental caskets are an option as well. The family can rent a lined casket for the funeral, after which the body will be placed in a coffin made of wood or cardboard in preparation for burial.
The process of embalming the deceased has been an industry-wide practice for so long that most often it is viewed as a necessity. However, unless the body will be going across state lines, it is not a legal requirement. If the service will be held in relatively short order, and refrigeration is available, either through the hospital or the funeral home, the family can opt out of having the deceased embalmed. This will save between $300 and $1215 on the funeral costs. Regardless of whether or not the family chooses to pay for embalming, they should keep in mind that the average per day cost for refrigeration is $147. So that should be considered when making the final decision.
These services can range from the funeral director offering advice and support, cleansing the body, arrangements being made with the cemetery, and securing of the permits and certificates necessary for the funeral. Unfortunately, this fee, which ranges from approximately $1,025 to $3,300, is non-negotiable. So, if a family really needs to have a fiscally conservative funeral, it is best to hold the service at a church, club, or strictly at the graveside.
The cost of viewing the body at a funeral home ranges between $100 and $550 per hour. So, again, if this is not a viable option, the family should consider a location other than a funeral home to hold the funeral service for the deceased.
In addition to the professional services, the price of the coffin and the viewing rates, the funeral service itself will cost between $300 and $1,400.
Remember that, unless the family of the deceased is planning a viewing or service at a funeral home, there is no need to pay for their services. A graveside service or church ceremony, or a service at a club or other religious institution, does not require the use of a funeral home or a funeral director.
Of course, there are other expenses involved in a traditional funeral service, but this list covers the key points. The components of a ‘traditional’ funeral service are evolving with more families choosing to hold memorial services in their homes or churches, and funeral services in their church or at the graveside. It is a deeply personal decision, however. The family must always remember that the amount of money they spend on a funeral has no correlation to the amount of love they had for the deceased.