Cost of Cremation
The average cremation costs $1,800, but the price can range between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on location and the establishment selected. Most funeral homes do not have a crematory on site, so additional costs may be incurred for transportation.
Some funeral homes pressure a family to view (identify, or ID) their loved one’s body prior to cremation, using the justification that they want to be sure the correct body is being cremated. This is often a ploy to induce the family to upgrade to a more expensive container for their loved one; however, ID viewing is by no means necessary, obligatory, or mandated by law. The funeral home has strict procedures in place to ensure it correctly identifies the bodies it retrieves. (See chapter Funeral Home Sales Tactics.)
LowCost Cremation Services
Non-Profit Funeral Society Cremation and Funeral Home Network
Cremation urns and memorial resources
Urns for Ashes (United Kingdom)
Cremation urns and memorial resources
A Fine Farewell
Handmade burial and cremation shrouds
Purchasing a Casket
When purchasing a casket, a client may be taken around the display room in a seemingly disorganized manner, but nothing could be further from the truth. Entire seminars are devoted to leveraging psychological principles to arrange displays and conduct tours in a manner that will maximize sales.
Industry studies show that the average person shopping for a casket buys one of the first three models shown—generally the middle-priced of the three. Therefore, it is in the funeral provider’s best interest to show customers the higher-end models first.
To make a casket look less expensive, it can be placed next to a much pricier one. Sure, it’s less expensive—but only in comparison. Higher-end caskets will usually be organized to the right of the funeral home (85 percent of people are right-handed and will tend toward the right) with cheaper caskets to the left.
Many lower-priced models are not displayed at all. Be sure to ask for a price list, and request to see all the models listed. Don’t be surprised if the less expensive models are kept in a basement or a small dark room, or are not on display at all. (See chapter Your Rights at a Funeral Home.)
Appoint an Advocate
If possible, appoint a trusted friend, relative, or clergy member as your advocate to help with funeral negotiations. According the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a funeral is third largest expense most families will have in a lifetime, after a home and a car. As with any large purchase, determine your budget before venturing out to the marketplace.
If you do not have an advocate, funeral counselors at a not-for-profit consumer advocacy group are available for a fee. The cost is approximately $300.00.
Probate is the manner and method in which the estate of the deceased is processed through the legal system. The estate is defined as all belongings, assets, and debts. The function of probate is to settle debts owed and transfer remaining assets to beneficiaries.
All estates must go through probate regardless of the presence or absence of a will. The difference will be how the estate is dispersed. If there is a will, and it is deemed valid and binding, the estate will be distributed according to the deceased’s wishes. If there is not a will, or it is deemed invalid, the estate will be distributed according to the laws of the state.
Don't Judge Your Grief
One of the best ways you can help yourself is to not judge your grief. You are going to feel how you feel, and it will likely change from day to day. There is no need to cause yourself additional stress by admonishing yourself: Why do I feel just fine today? Shouldn’t I be unable to get out of bed? or I’m crushed, I can’t move, this isn’t normal. Something’s wrong with me. Everything that you go through, everything that you feel, is normal. Grief is hard enough without having judgment piled on top of it.
We all have behaviors that can keep us sane and happy. They are the rituals and activities that make you feel like you. Maybe it’s time spent on a mountain bike, in the garden, on a basketball court, in a museum, taking a weekend trip, attending an art or yoga class, bowling with friends, horseback riding, kayaking, building models, attending a film festival, going to a comedy club, being with friends and family, and so on.
Figure out what you need every day, every week, every month, and every year to keep you happy. Then be sure to do those things for yourself. This strategy can be used in the good times as well as the bad.
Getting Through Grief
My good friend Rebecca summed up the grief experience in one sentence: “Everything about it pretty much blows.” Somehow I found relief in that statement. Yes, it was going to be an awful time. A weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I didn’t have to look for the silver lining or the life lesson. I didn’t have to be strong or put on a brave face. I could just be devastated.
Try to care for yourself as you would care for a child. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Eat healthy meals and get some exercise. Take walks. Spend time with people who love you. Do things that make you feel good: get a massage, play golf with a friend, watch a movie, read, go to the beach, go swimming, hike to a scenic overlook, listen to music, plant flowers, volunteer, tutor, and so on.
Be patient with yourself. Grief can be a long and arduous process, but eventually, you will recover and heal.