Funeral Planning Guidance

What Costs Are Associated With a Traditional Funeral Service?

This post provides price ranges for many of the items associated with a traditional funeral service.  Reviewing these considerations will help you identify the type of funeral service most appropriate for your budget.

A traditional funeral service can cost nearly $10,000

While the average funeral costs nearly $7,500, many traditional funerals cost in excess of $10,000.  Here are the main components typically associated with a traditional funeral:

    • casket: $2,300
    • funeral director’s basic services fee: $1,400
    • embalming and body preparation: $600
    • viewing / visitation ceremony: $400
    • funeral ceremony: $450
    • transportation (pick up body, limousine, and hearse): $625
    • miscellaneous (certificates, permits, music, clergy, obituary, register book, service folders, obituary, flowers): $500
    • grave site $1,000
    • fee to dig grave site $500
    • headstone $1,500

The above costs represent national averages for many of the costs associated with a traditional funeral service.  Your actual costs could be higher (or lower) based upon geographic location, the funeral home you select, and the actual items you purchase.

If you would like to save money the next time you need to make funeral arrangements, you can search and compare local funeral home pricing at

Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Completing the Affairs of a Loved One’s Life

Written by Alua Arthur from Going with Grace

Traditional Funeral Service: The Advantages and Disadvantages

This article identifies a variety of considerations related to holding a traditional funeral service.  Reviewing these considerations will help you identify the type of funeral service that is most appropriate in your situation.

Advantages of a traditional funeral service

A traditional funeral service is the most popular –and therefore, socially acceptable- type of funeral service in America.  The structured formality of the traditional funeral service may provide the family with a sense of comfort and closure not experienced in less formal service arrangements.

The traditional funeral affords ample time for friends and extended family to attend and support the surviving family members.  A traditional funeral usually includes some type of viewing ceremony held one or two nights before the actual funeral.  Since the funeral ceremony itself is almost always held during the daytime, this nighttime visitation allows friends to pay their respects, even if they work during the day.  Also, by scheduling the traditional funeral three to six days after the death, extended family members have time to make travel arrangements, if necessary.

The traditional funeral provides many ways to celebrate the life of the deceased.  Although the traditional funeral can be a fairly structured event, it also provides maximum flexibility in terms of casket choice, religious readings, flower arrangements, and eulogies.

Lastly, the expenses associated with a traditional funeral service leave plenty of room for negotiating a big discount.  Using a resource like the Funeral Saver’s Kit to plan your funeral can often slash several thousands dollars from the funeral home’s bill.

Understanding Your Total Funeral Bill

Funeral expenses really consist of three separate pieces:

    • the services and merchandise provided by the funeral home
    • the costs and services to dispose of the body or cremains (i.e. ashes) at the cemetery or elsewhere
    • the cost to purchase and install some type of memorial (i.e. headstone, marker, monument)

Even if you end up paying for all three pieces through the funeral home, it’s best to break the cost of a funeral down into the above-three categories.

When estimating your TOTAL funeral costs, you must add all three pieces together. I think this is by far the best way to plan a funeral because it allows you to isolate and prioritize the goods and services that are most important to you.

Find trusted funeral homes near you to compare quality and prices

What Is An Immediate Burial?

Choosing an “immediate burial” when making funeral arrangements can have a big impact on the total cost of a funeral. This article will explain what the funeral home does when you choose an immediate burial instead of a traditional funeral.

What are the key elements of an immediate burial?

The funeral home does four things when you choose an immediate burial:

    • remove body from place of death to funeral home
    • obtain permits
    • transport body to a final resting place
    • bury or entomb the body upon arrival at the cemetery

Body Donation: The Advantages and Disadvantages

If you are interested in donating your body to science and making a contribution that benefits others, MedCure is one of the oldest and most respected programs to do so.  If you quality for a body donation, MedCure will arrange for your body to be donated, and then will organize the rest of the remains to be cremated and returned to the family within 4-6 weeks for no cost.  If you would like to know more, please call (866) 437-9526 and someone will be able to assist you and answer any questions.

Many people consider donating their body to science in lieu of choosing a funeral followed by burial in a cemetery.  Body donation (or medical donation, as it is sometimes called), has advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of donating your body to science

One of the chief advantages related to donating your body to science is that this option is often considerably less expensive than other funeral options.  By donating your body to science, you avoid costs associated with body burial in a cemetery.  You may also be able to lower or reduce costs related to the headstone or memorial marker.

A body donation can also be fairly simple to arrange: normally you file basic paperwork with a donor program (usually a medical school) and then notify the donor program immediately following the death.  Representatives from the medical school will dispatch professionals to pick up the decedent and transport the body back to the medical school.

Moreover, the donor program or medical school accepting the body usually takes full responsibility for handling the eventual cremation and burial tasks.  Families are usually given the option of having cremated remains buried at the school site or returned to the family once the school is finished using the body for teaching purposes.

Donating your body to medical science also has an altruistic advantage in that your donation helps train future doctors and surgeons and may help find cures to a variety of diseases.  While this may not be a high priority in some families, other families take solace in the fact that they are able to make a positive impact on future generations.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Cremation?

Direct Cremation Advantages

Direct cremation offers an affordable alternative to traditional body burial.

While direct cremation can significantly reduce funeral home costs, you can reap additional financial benefits from the cemetery and headstone dealer.  If you choose not to bury the cremated remains - and many people do not - you can eliminate many items that make the traditional funeral so expensive.

Here is a list of costs you can eliminate by choosing direct cremation:
    • expensive casket
    • embalming
    • funeral home staff and facilities charge
    • cosmetic and hair dressing charges
    • funeral chapel or church fees
    • viewing or visitation charges
    • transportation fees (hearse, flower car, utility vehicle, etc.)
    • burial plot or mausoleum crypt
    • vault or grave liner
    • grave opening and closing costs
    • headstone or grave marker

How To Write a Eulogy

Eulogy is pronounced like this:  /Yule-ah-gee/

A eulogy is simply a speech about a loved one who has died.

This speech is usually given during a memorial or funeral ceremony.  While it is often given by a close friend or relative of the deceased, it can also be given by a religious leader.

Don’t stress out over giving a eulogy.

Think of it as a simple conversation with the family and friends about the life of the person who has died.  Remember, the funeral or memorial ceremony is usually only attended by people that somehow mattered to the deceased.  They are eager to hear about the deceased and will appreciate anything you say.

Almost EVERYONE is afraid of speaking in public

The “audience” is NOT expecting you to give a flawless speech.  If fact, if you “mess up” a little (or a lot), the audience tends to rally around you even more.  They really do!

There is no “right way” to compose a eulogy.

Since most people have no idea what a eulogy is supposed to sound like, you can pretty much create it any way you want.  Here are some things you may want to talk about:

    • a brief “life history” of the person who has died
    • important achievements and events in the deceased’s life
    • details about family, friends, work, and hobbies
    • favorite memories of the deceased

Most eulogies last between 5 and 15 minutes but there are no hard and fast rules here.  You can also deliver “vignette” eulogies.  This is where several different people take turns speaking about the deceased.  For example, each of the children of a deceased parent could give a small speech about their favorite respective memory with the deceased.

Breaking a single eulogy into separate vignettes gives others a chance to participate in the services and takes the pressure off of just one speaker.  Even if each person speaks for just a little while, it will seem like a longer, more robust speech because it takes time for each person to walk up to the podium and then return to their seat.