Helping Families Understand Cremation Services

June 17, 2021

Answering Questions Regarding Cremation Costs and Burial Options

The popularity of cremation as an end-of-life preference continues to rise. However, when a family is working with a funeral home to plan for the cremation of a loved one, they can be surprised by how many questions and decisions arise in the process. Because we want to help you be the best resource possible for the families you serve, we have compiled answers to several of the most common questions regarding cremation—the costs involved, the burial options, and how the body of the decedent is prepared. 

Is cremation less costly than a burial?

It is widely assumed that cremation is significantly less expensive than burial in a casket. This can be true if you are comparing a simple, direct cremation—with no viewing, memorial service, or burial—to a traditional funeral with a viewing and burial. In 2019, the National Funeral Directors Association updated their median funeral costs for a traditional funeral to $7,640 and a funeral with cremation to $5,150. These estimates do not include some additional costs such as a cemetery marker or monument, the burial vault used for a casket, or flowers.

Some families do choose to cremate their loved one, scatter their ashes, and plan a memorial service at a later date without the assistance of a funeral home. However, many families work with a funeral home for cremation services, along with a viewing, funeral service, and burial. In those cases, the costs of a funeral with a casket and a funeral with cremation are comparable.

Is a casket required for cremation? Can one be used?

There are strict laws governing cremation in the United States. Most states require the decedent to be cremated in a container that is made of rigid, combustible material—not a traditional casket. If a family chooses to hold a funeral before their loved one is cremated, they may inquire about the use of a casket. Let family members know their options for purchasing or renting a casket for use during the service.

How is a decedent prepared for cremation?

When a family is planning for the cremation of a loved one, they will need to think carefully about any desired funeral services. For example, a decedent who is to be cremated will not be embalmed unless there will be a viewing. If there will not be a viewing, the process of cremation will begin by bathing, cleaning, and dressing the decedent for identification. Next of kin—whether it is a surviving partner or the decedent’s children—will identify their loved one prior to cremation. 

Is burial an option following cremation?

Some families may not realize that options for a cemetery burial exist for cremated remains. While a decedent might wish for his or her ashes to be scattered in a designated location, others wish to have their remains be interred at a cemetery. There are a few options for cemetery burial following cremation: 

  • Traditional burial plot: Cremated remains contained in an urn can be buried in a traditional plot with a headstone marker or monument. 
  • Columbarium: Cremated remains can be interred in a columbarium, which is similar to a mausoleum but with smaller niches sized for urns. 
  • Urn garden: Some cemeteries have incorporated urn gardens, a landscaped area within the cemetery designated for the burial or scattering of cremated remains.

    We hope this information can be used as a resource for the families you serve as you guide them through the process of cremation. Remember that National Mortuary Shipping is a resource for all your mortuary needs, including handling the complications involved with out-of-town cremations. Contact us 24/7 for guidance and assistance. 
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