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Funerals- Costs and Choices

Funerals: Costs and Choices

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After the loss of a loved one, there are many choices to be made. How do you best memorialize the departed person and give their family and friends a chance to say goodbye? Do you want a traditional, religious funeral, or would an alternative ceremony (or none at all) be better? Funeral homes are required to give you an itemized price list of all the services they offer (called a General Price List), so asking for this is the first step when you’re planning a funeral.

Traditional, Full-Service

Most people are familiar with the full-service, traditional-style funeral. This usually begins with a viewing or visitation at the funeral home. The body is then transported via hearse to the ceremony site (often a church) and then to the cemetery. Many funeral homes offer complete packages that include all of these separate things.

It’s important to note that a traditional funeral can be held regardless of whether burial or cremation is chosen. It also doesn’t matter if the ceremony is to be religious in nature (many services are held at gravesite if a church service is not desired).

A traditional, full-service funeral is almost always going to cost more than other types. Services that may be included in a package or purchased a la carte include renting the funeral home for the viewing, embalming, storage, and making vehicles available for transportation. Of course, you will also need to purchase a casket and cemetery plot (or pay the fee for cremation).

Alternative Service

There are many other forms of service than the traditional one detailed above. Many people choose a memorial service rather than a formal funeral, especially if the body is cremated or hasn’t been recovered. Memorial services may be held at a funeral home or at another venue like a home or rental hall.

When the deceased was a member of certain organizations, they may have their own special service to honor him or her. Examples of this would be services for veterans or for members of fraternal organizations. These special services can be included in a traditional service or held separately.

Costs for alternative services vary widely depending on the type of service desired. Make sure to take into account the cost of the venue, catering, and any officiants or celebrants. Even if you don’t plan to have a traditional service in a church or at graveside, remember that you may still need to pay for things like a casket, cemetery plot, and embalming.

No Service

If no service is desired, this is known as immediate disposition, immediate burial, or a non-commemorative funeral. This can be the most appropriate choice in some circumstances. Family or friends can choose to be at the gravesite for the burial to mark the deceased’s passing.

Although immediate disposition is the least expensive form of service, it’s still important to remember that there will still be costs. The funeral home has the right to charge for their basic services, like storage and transportation. If you decide to go to the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home may charge you extra for this.

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