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What You Should Know About the Cost of Cremation

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More families are turning to cremation in place of burial when it comes to disposition methods following the death of a loved one. If you’re considering cremation for yourself or a loved one, it’s helpful to know some of the fast facts surrounding the prices and what to expect.

How much does cremation cost?

Cremation can range anywhere from $495 to $3,500, depending on your location and the services you select. Direct cremation (where the body is cremated almost immediately and the family does not choose embalming, viewing, or visitation) is on the lower end of the range, and will always be cheaper than cremation with services. Selecting a cremation container (a container used for cremation, usually made out of cardboard) will reduce cost greatly, as well as a cremation container usually costs around $50, whereas a cremation casket generally starts at around $700.

Get help with expenses by starting a fundraiser

What is the cheapest cremation?

The cheapest type of cremation is known as direct cremation. Direct cremation is when the body is cremated without any services involved (such as viewing, embalming, or visitation). Direct cremations also usually involve what’s known as a cremation container, a simple container (usually cardboard) that the body is placed in during cremation. Cremation containers are usually around $50 and are provided by the crematory. If you’re opting for a direct cremation (usually done through a funeral company that specializes in direct cremation), anticipate spending around $1,000. (Keep in mind that this price can vary depending on location.) On average, the median cost of direct cremation (without services) hovers around $2,300. The median cost of cremation with services booked through a traditional funeral home will be around $6,000. For a more detailed breakdown by state, visit Lincoln Heritage’s article.

Why is cremation so expensive?

Cremation is the more affordable option when it comes to disposition methods, but can get expensive when services and addons are added. A direct cremation will often include the funeral home dealing with paperwork (such as authorizations, filing death certificates, cremation permits, etc.), temporary storage of the body if necessary, crematory fee, cremation container, and a temporary container for the cremains. Additional services (such as a viewing, a cremation casket, embalming, etc.) will increase the overall price and involvement of the company you’re working with. If you’re considering cremation as a disposition option, you’ll need to identify what’s important to you in terms of services and costs. The more services you add on, the more expensive the process will be. If you forego a lot of the services and opt for a direct cremation, you’ll be able to pay much less. If a casket is chosen instead of a simple cremation container, the price of the cremation will also go up. Cremation can be affordable and generally less expensive when additional services and products are not added on. While cremation is the more affordable option, many families are not prepared for the unexpected & high costs that go along with burying or cremating a loved one. If you’re struggling to come up with funds to cover the cost of cremation, creating a memorial fundraiser is a good way to cover memorial expenses.

Why is burial so much more expensive than cremation?

Burial of a body (especially with a viewing included) involves a lot more body preparation and steps when compared to a cremation. Additionally, when you bury a body, you need a casket to contain it. This is not the case with a cremation, which immediately reduces the price by at least a couple thousand dollars. If families are interested in a viewing, they'll likely need to have the body embalmed and prepared for viewing, which tacks on another couple hundred dollars. In comparison, a direct cremation requires very little process, no embalming, no casket, and no viewing which eliminates a large amount of money from the start. For those looking for an inexpensive disposition method,

Will Social Security pay for cremation?

Social Security will pay out a one time death benefit of $255 to the surviving spouse or surviving child, with certain restrictions. This amount of money can’t cover the cost of cremation, but it can help ease the burden. For more information on the Social Security Death Benefit, visit their website.

How can I get cremation for free?

Body donation, where the deceased’s body is donated to an organization for scientific research, is usually very low cost or free. Most body donation organizations cover the cost of cremation, but not entirely. If you’re looking for an entirely free option, you should consider reading over ScienceCare’s overview on cremation costs. After the body is donated, the organization will cremate it at the end of the process and send the remains back to the family, at no cost. If you’re interested in body donation, you’ll want to search for body donation organizations online and see what your options are.

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Last updated September 13, 2023
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