How Much Do Funerals Cost?

It’s easy for funeral costs to add additional stressors to the already stressful experience of losing a loved one. Whether you’re planning for the future or have recently lost someone, understanding your options and how much funerals cost is the first step to managing the process.

The good news is that there are reasonable funeral options to fit every price range—you just need to know what to ask for.

Here are rough average costs for several different types of funerals. Your total may vary depending on your location, the funeral home you choose, and the exact goods and services you select, but this should give you an approximation of what to expect. For more information on what each service involves and whether it's required, see our guide at the end of this article.

Traditional Funeral with a Viewing and Burial

If you’re interested in doing what has historically been most traditional in the U.S., this is good guidance for what you should expect. Keep in mind that caskets and cemetery plots can vary widely in price, depending on your preferences.

  • Transport of the deceased to the funeral home: $300
  • Basic services of funeral director and staff: $2,000
  • Embalming: $700
  • Other body prep (e.g. dressing and casketing): $250
  • Casket: $2,000
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a visitation: $400
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a service: $500
  • Use of a hearse: $300
  • Flowers: $300
  • Printed programs: $150
  • Cemetery plot (with opening and closing): $1,500
  • Burial vault: $1,300
  • Headstone: $1,500
  • Use of staff for a graveside service: $400
  • Total: $11,600 (+ any costs associated with the reception)

Traditional Memorial Service with Cremation

Today, over half of Americans choose cremation over burial. Choosing cremation does not prevent you from having a traditional funeral or memorial service, and here’s roughly what you can expect cost-wise. (As you’ll notice, you can save thousands as compared to a similar funeral with a burial):

  • Transport of the deceased to the funeral home: $300
  • Basic services of funeral director and staff: $2,000
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a service: $500
  • Cremation container: $1,000
  • Cremation: $300
  • Urn: $300
  • Flowers: $300
  • Printed programs: $150
  • Total: $4,800 (+ any costs associated with the reception)

If you’d like to include a viewing:

  • Casket rental: $1,000
  • Embalming: $700
  • Other body prep (e.g. dressing and casketing): $250
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a visitation: $400
  • Subtotal: $2,350
  • Total: $7,150 (+ any costs associated with the reception)

Immediate Burial

An immediate burial is a no-frills option in which a funeral home will take care of the necessary logistics to bury your loved one, but without any associated events. That being said, you can always organize a memorial service or celebration of life on your own.

  • Immediate burial: $2,500
  • Cemetery plot (with opening and closing): $1,500
  • Burial vault: $1,300
  • Casket: $2,000
  • Headstone: $1,500
  • Total: $8,800 (+ any costs associated with the memorial or celebration of life)

Direct Cremation

Similar to an immediate burial, with a direct cremation, the funeral home will take care of the necessary steps to cremate your loved one, but won’t provide any assistance with other events. Once again, you can always organize a memorial service or celebration of life for friends and family without needing a funeral director.

  • Direct cremation: $2,000
  • Urn: $300
  • Total: $2,300 (+ any costs associated with the memorial service or celebration of life)

Donation to Science

Whether you’re interested in saving thousands on funeral costs or you’re want to help advance science and medicine, donating the body to science can be a great option. Many university medical programs utilize donated cadavers for training and research and will take care of all required funeral logistics on your behalf.

  • Donate to science: $0
  • Total: $0 (+ any costs associated with the memorial service or celebration of life)

As you can see, the price of a funeral can vary dramatically, depending on your preferences. That being said, it’s important to remember that you can hold a meaningful funeral at any price point. For help planning a funeral, check out our free funeral planning tool.

Overwhelmed by all the funeral terminology? Here are some descriptions of common services and goods.

Common Services

The following services are commonly provided by funeral homes:

  • Basic services of funeral director and staff. This is the fee for the basic organizational services that the funeral home will provide. This fee is generally mandatory.
  • Embalming. This is the fee for the embalming process, which involves preserving the deceased using chemicals, commonly suggested for a viewing or wake. Embalming is generally not required if proper refrigeration is available.
  • Body prep (e.g. dressing and casketing). This is the fee for final preparation after embalming.
  • Other body prep (e.g. washing and casketing). This is the fee for general preparation of the body when it is not embalmed. It may be required if embalming is not being utilized.
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a visitation. This is the fee for the services the funeral home will provide during a visitation or viewing. This is generally required if you would like to have hold a viewing and visitation at the funeral home or if you will be needing any assistance from the staff.
  • Use of facilities and/or staff for a service. This is the fee for the services the funeral home will provide during a funeral or memorial service. This is generally required if you would like to hold the service at the funeral home or if you will be needing any assistance from the staff for the service.
  • Use of staff for a graveside service. This is the fee for the services the funeral home will provide during a graveside service. This is generally required if you will be needing any assistance from the staff for the service.
  • Cremation. This is the fee for the cremation process, which is the process of burning a deceased body and reducing it to ash. The funeral home may coordinate it through an outside crematorium.
  • Direct cremation. This is the fee for cremation and minimum services required by the funeral home. It generally includes transportation to the crematory, basic prep, and filing of necessary paperwork, but no additional services from the funeral home.
  • Immediate burial. This is the fee for transportation to the burial place and minimum services required by the funeral home. It generally includes transportation, general coordination, and the filing of necessary paperwork, but no additional services from the funeral home. It usually does not include the cost of the burial plot or other cemetery-related fees.

Common Goods Sold

The following goods are commonly sold by funeral homes, but can also be purchased elsewhere:

  • Caskets. This is the cost to purchase a casket from the funeral home. You may choose to purchase a casket online or elsewhere, if you'd wish.
  • Casket rental. This is the cost to rent a casket for your loved one's viewing. A casket may be mandatory for the viewing, but you may also choose to rent one elsewhere.
  • Urns. This is the cost to purchase an urn from the funeral home. You may choose to purchase an urn online or elsewhere, if you'd wish.
  • Burial vaults. A burial vault typically encloses a coffin and helps prevent a grave from sinking in the earth. This is the cost to purchase a burial vault from the funeral home. A burial vault is required for most cemeteries, but you may choose to purchase one online or elsewhere, if you'd wish.
  • Cremation caskets. When a body is cremated, it needs to be placed in a cremation casket, which is typically a simple wooden casket, so that it can be cremated inside the casket. This is the cost to purchase a cremation casket from the funeral home. If you do not wish to purchase a cremation casket, you may opt for an alternative cremation container, but some type of container is generally mandatory. You may also choose to purchase a cremation casket online or elsewhere, if you wish.
  • Alternative cremation containers. This is the cost to purchase an alternative cremation container from the funeral home in the event that you choose not to purchase a cremation casket. You may also choose to purchase an alternative cremation container online or elsewhere, if you wish.

Common Transportation Services

The following transportation services are commonly sold by funeral homes:

  • Transport of the deceased to the funeral home. This is the fee for the funeral home to come pick up your loved one and bring him/her to the funeral home for preparation. You may decline this if you wish to bring your loved one there yourself.
  • Use of a hearse. This is the fee to transport your loved one from the funeral home to funeral events (or between events) in a hearse. You may decline this if you wish to transport your loved one yourself.
March 2018