Cremation, versus a traditional funeral with burial, is on the rise because of a number of factors. The cost to cremate someone is about one-third that of a traditional funeral. The other reason for the increase involves environmental concerns. With fewer sites available for burial locations because of land consumption, people are taking the cremation alternative. And, if a loved one requests that their ashes be scattered across land or sea or remain with loved ones, cremation offers the flexibility to choose.
The cost of a cremation service varies depending on the final disposition of a person's remains. Morticians often become involved in the cremation process; they are required by law to provide delineated pricing information in advance for services performed. Funeral services can be held with a body present for viewing before cremation or memorial services can be held with pictures or other mementos. Others choose direct cremation.
When there's a viewing of the body and funeral services, the cost of cremation can be about $3,500, including the costs of the funeral director or staff transporting the body, embalming and otherwise preparing the deceased for viewing, as well as a nondescript casket. Caskets for viewing can be rented and contain a removable container. Most crematories require that a body be placed in a non-pliable container before cremation.
Memorial services generally involve rental of facilities at a funeral home, and fees to transport the body to the crematory. The cost of a minister or other facilitator to conduct the memorial ceremony is also involved. The estimated cost for this option is around $1,200. Private memorial services can be held anywhere; the private memorial usually does not involve outside funeral firms, and the cost is determined by decisions made by the family regarding venue and ceremony. Cremation fees, possible transport and embalming fees may apply and can range anywhere from $800 to $1,000.
The decision to handle the body without a funeral director mediating the process, taking the remains directly to a crematory can range from $100 to $300. This eliminates the option for a funeral or viewing.
Remains can buried in cemeteries, on private property or placed in a niche columbarium. A columbarium is a grouping of small openings (niches) that hold urns or other containers housing cremated remains. The cremated ashes also can be spread over a meaningful area, which is legal most places, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
- brass urn image by Richard J Thompson from Fotolia.com