Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Cremation is one of the most basic ways for the “final disposition” of a set of human remains.  Of all services offered in the funeral industry, cremation is perhaps the most affordable in the industry, with “Direct Cremation” being the absolute most affordable to a family’s out of pocket expenses.
I have sat with many families who called and shared that all they wanted was “Cremation”, nothing more.  I respond with our cremation price of $585. Usually the family is a bit surprised because that is a very affordable price for an all inclusive, direct cremation.
Now, there is no such thing as “the right price” for a direct cremation.  To be honest, the right price  is the price that you find acceptable and choose to pay. I have seen the cremation price in this industry vary from $550 up to $3,500, all for pretty much the same thing. The price that you pay is usually all inclusive. The direct cremation “traditionally” provided by a funeral home consists of:
  • Proportional share of the overhead cost
  • Removal of the deceased from the place of death
  • Refrigeration (will reflect a specific amount of days)
  • Filing of the death certificate
  • Cremation or disposition permit
  • Cremation container (large cardboard box)
  • Transport to the crematory
  • Cremation process
  • Temporary container for cremains back to family (not an urn)

Again, different funeral homes charge different prices, some locations are nicer than others, but do the exact same thing. The price paid depends on what the family chooses to pay, for they have the option of going elsewhere if it appears too pricey.

So what about cremation societies? Well, they're a good idea and there is nothing wrong with them at all, but if you are looking for the most affordable, look again. Most cremation societies will be underpriced by local "Mom and Pop" funeral homes. As a matter of fact, pretty much all of your local "Mom and Pop" funeral homes will have the most affordable price. If you need to confirm this, please shop around until you find the most affordable.

What about traditional services ending with cremation? Is this an option?

Absolutely! Burial is becoming more and more uncommon and many families are unaware that services can conclude with cremation instead of going to burial. You, as the consumer have the option of visitation (viewing), church services, or both, that conclude with cremation. The price tends to be more affordable due to the "no need" of a casket purchase. The local funeral home can sell you a "cremation casket" or rent you a cremation casket shell with a new insert and arrange for all the services you may decide to have.

Do I have to buy an urn?

No, you do not, but most funeral homes have a vast selection of urns to choose from. Urns, like caskets can be marked up a great deal so choose wisely. If it is your intent to scatter at a later date, an urn is not recommended, or perhaps a biodegradable scattering urn. Any reputable funeral home will provide you with a sufficient container to take the cremains home, if you can not afford an urn. A family can also provide their own container to be used as an urn if they like or purchase one elswere.

Can I bury cremains?
Cremation urn with inground vault

Yes, you can. You can also put a marker on the spot for future visits or even select something in a mausoleum or columbarium for future visits. Remember that a burial spot for cremains are usually far more affordable than for a full body burial plot. You can also purchase an underground urn vault if you like.

What about veterans cremains, can they be placed in a national cemetery?

Yes, as long as the veteran was separated under honorable conditions. All veterans, be them cremated or full body burial are generally eligible for internment in a VA cemetery. Contact the Veterans Administration or any local funeral home for assistance.

Is it legal to scatter the cremains at sea or on land?

Yes it is, as long as you are mindful of other people’s private property or locations. Contact your state funeral board representatives for further instructions and guidance in this area.

Can I take the Cremains home with me?

Yes, many families choose to do this until they decide what to do at a later date.

What about body donation and cremation?

Anotomical donation is a service presented by many funeral establishments. Basically what it is, is if a family chooses, they may donate the body to science or to an anotomical facility. Some of these facilities are non-proffit, some are for profit, some return some of the cremains to the family and some do not. In return, After a very thorough screening process and if the remains or body is accepted by the facility, the accepting facility will pay for the cremation of the remains that were not harvested from the deceased. There is nothing wrong with these facilities, just be very aware of what you are signing and have a very good understanding of what will become of the remainder of the body that does not get used. Will they be returned to you or will they be buried in a common grave? Many questions exist in this new area of human remains disposition. Many people can benifit from the donation of harvested body parts both for science and future quality of life.  Please consider but also be informed.

To conclude, remember, all funeral homes charge different prices for cremation. Some cost more than others and many people feel comforted in paying a little more. That is ok, if you can afford the charge and are comfortable with it, then it is your right to do so. Just remember that there are those out there that can’t afford as much, and they need locations and services that can accommodate their budget as well.

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