Funerals are a challenging time in the life of survivors and loved ones.
When a person dies, there is quite a bit of grief to deal with.
Unfortunately, there are also lots of expenses which go along with this process.
A funeral is a very expensive thing, and many people wonder why it has to be this way.
In fact, some people will actually take out life insurance policies just to be able to pay for a funeral.
Understanding why a funeral is so expensive can potentially help you to save a little bit of money.
Let’s look at the top 20 reasons funerals are so expensive.
Why Are Funerals So Expensive?
1. Quick Planning
If you are a person who likes to save money, you know that, to save money, you need to shop around.
If you try and shop quickly to make a purchase, chances are you are going to end up spending much more than you should.
Unfortunately, with a funeral, people don’t have the time or the patience to be shopping around.
Funerals must be planned quickly, and they must be taken care of within a few days.
This leaves people in a difficult position, unable to shop around for a deal.
When you can’t look for a deal, you will likely pay top dollar at the first place you call.
Quick planning is a major reason funerals cost so much money.
2. Lack of Experience
How many people have experience planning a funeral?
Most people will do this a few times in their life at most, and it will not be something they will enjoy doing.
With a lack of experience, it means you can be a target for some pretty hefty prices for a funeral.
The pricing gets elevated rather quickly, and without experience, you might now even know when something is getting too costly.
To you, it could seem as though this is the standard simply because you have never planned a funeral before.
Funeral homes should not take advantage of this fact, but unfortunately, this does happen at times.
3. Service Fees
Every funeral home is going to have service fees.
These fees will be part of what it costs to conduct the entire funeral, but it will not cover the specific events of the funeral.
You can think of the service fees as paying someone to oversee everything that is going on.
You won’t be able to consider the service fees as the entire cost of the funeral.
Instead, these will just be the extras.
There won’t be much you can do about these fees because, most of the time, they are a standard that everyone must pay.
Again, you likely won’t be shopping around too much, so the pricing is probably not going to be great.
A casket can be very expensive.
There is also a social status that influences the choice of the casket.
It can be very difficult to choose a cheap casket to put your loved one in.
Even when money is tight, people will find ways to put money together to be able to afford a decent casket for their loved one.
Of course, the casket is going to be used for the funeral, and then it will never be seen again.
This is why some people will choose a very basic option.
The problem is that even the basic options are going to cost several thousand dollars.
It’s hard to believe a wooden box can cost this much, but it most certainly does.
An embalming fee is going to be necessary if you are going to have an open casket.
The embalming fee usually also covers dressing the person and doing their hair and makeup as well.
Make sure the fees you are paying are going to cover everything necessary for the person to look as you wish during the wake.
Paying for embalming is another one of those costs which cannot be avoided.
There will be no way to complete this process on your own, and if you plan on having a certain type of funeral, you will need to have this embalming process completed.
It is hard to shop around for a better price on a service like this.
If one funeral home had a better embalming price, you would have to transfer the body again, which would make it unnecessary and costly.
When you price out the funeral, remember to include the embalming costs.
6. Funeral Home Chapel Charge
Many people will have a funeral at a church, and others will do it right at the funeral home’s own chapel.
The church seems to be a cheaper option than the chapel.
A funeral home only has a chance to charge people for a very short period of time.
They will make sure they are covering all their bases during that time.
7. Transfer of Remains
When a person dies, their body has to be transported from the home or hospital to the funeral home.
This transportation will not happen for free.
It is going to be quite a high cost to transfer the remains to a funeral home.
You must be quite sure where you are going to have the funeral because you will not want to have to pay to transfer the remains more than once.
The transfer of remains is going to add several hundred dollars to the cost of the funeral.
Unfortunately, this is just another one of those fees you are very likely going to be stuck with.
8. Forwarding Fees for Out of Town Death
If a person happens to die when they are out of town, they could be subject to forwarding fees.
Forwarding fees happen when a body has to be transported from one funeral home to the next.
The body will arrive at the first funeral home, where embalming and other work will be done.
Once the body is prepared, it will then be sent to the next funeral home.
This process is costly, and it can make it difficult for families to have much control.
This is an unfortunate thing that happens when someone dies when they are out of town.
These fees will be unavoidable, and there could be other families trying to figure out how to get the person home and how to get themselves home as well.
These forwarding fees will make a funeral much more expensive.
9. Cremation Costs
If you decide to forgo having a funeral, and instead, choose to be cremated, the fees are going to be slightly less.
Cremation is a cheaper way to go about the funeral process, but it still comes with a cost.
In addition to the cost of cremation, there are many extras a funeral home may try to sell you.
They will try and sell you an urn that costs thousands of dollars and other mementos you can use to remember your loved ones.
It is difficult for people to say no to as they know it is the end of life for their loved one and their last connection with them.
Unfortunately, all of these nominal fees are going to make the process quite a bit more expensive than it normally would be.
If you are someone who is struggling to figure out how you will pay for a funeral, a basic cremation could be the best choice to consider.
10. Burial Plots
In addition to paying for a funeral, you may have to pay for a burial plot as well.
Depending on where you are purchasing your plot, you could end up spending as much as it costs to buy a vacation home somewhere!
Burial plots can get costly because there are only so many of them.
With a burial plot, you are reserving a piece of real estate for you to be buried.
Some people will choose their plots prior to death so they have a spot that they are comfortable with and are happy about spending the money on.
Sometimes when a funeral comes up quickly, you will be forced to pay for whatever is available when it comes to burial plots.
These plots can get very expensive and will likely cost thousands of dollars.
If you want to save a bit on a funeral, see if there is a family plot you can use.
A headstone will be the marker that goes on top of the body after it is laid to rest.
Headstones usually have the person’s name and their dates of birth and death.
These stones are extremely heavy, and some are even carved out of marble.
A headstone is the final mark a person leaves on the earth, and for this reason, people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on a headstone.
The headstone is something that will be seen quite often by family and strangers who walk past the grave.
Sometimes a quote is engraved in the headstone as well.
Any of this detail or extras that are part of the process will cost a lot of money.
A headstone does not always have to be added at the time of the funeral.
Sometimes, it will be added to the gravesite later on.
This can help make the burial a little more affordable and push the extra costs down the road.
12. Digging the Grave
If you thought that the digging of the grave was going to be covered in the cost of the plot or the cost of the funeral, you were wrong.
There is going to be yet another fee for the digging of the grave.
Digging the grave can be done by hand or by machine, but it is likely going to cost you several hundred dollars to have it done.
This is just another one of those steps you are going to have no control over.
The grave needs to be dug, or the funeral cannot be completed.
It is very hard to negotiate pricing on things like this.
As you have probably seen, there is not much negotiating that gets done at all.
The high costs, without any negotiating power, make the funeral process very difficult for families.
13. Grave Liner
A grave liner goes inside the grave before the casket is lowered into it.
Some people find these to be completely unnecessary, but others want to use them to protect the casket that is being placed in the ground.
This is a difficult decision as you have just paid thousands for the casket.
Do you want to spend hundreds more on a grave liner?
Again, you will have to carefully balance these types of expenses and make sure to pay for only the ones that matter to you.
If something seems unnecessary, do not be afraid to share that thought with the funeral home so they can better assist you.
Even though you need them during this time, you must also make sure you are not putting yourself in a bad situation by paying more than is necessary for the funeral.
14. Reinforcement of the Grave
Some funeral homes will charge you for reinforcement of the grave.
This is something that will be put in place to make sure the grave and the headstone stay in place for years to come.
The process is usually a piece of concrete that is put in place to make sure things stay put.
This will be an option at some cemeteries, and others will deem it mandatory.
You will have to find a place that is willing to listen to the specific needs of you and your family.
15. Time of Emotion = Easy Sell
When you have just lost a loved one, you are going to be in a very vulnerable state.
You will be emotional about the death that has occurred in your family, and you are going to be in a position that is a very easy sell.
A funeral home can come to you with any number of expenses, either mandatory or optional, and you may not know to say no.
Some people say yes because they don’t even know what they are agreeing to at the time.
This is very common and something you must watch out for when dealing with funeral homes.
There are certain codes of ethics by which the funeral home needs to abide, but as we know, some businesses are good and others are not.
If you find that you are a very emotional person, you may want to bring someone with you to go plan a funeral.
Sometimes having a voice of reason and a person who can question a few of the expenses is going to make quite a bit of sense.
After a funeral, there is usually a reception of some kind.
Sometimes these receptions are held at the home of the deceased, and other times, they may be held at a catering facility.
If you are planning on feeding a large crowd of people after a funeral, you can expect that it is going to cost quite a bit of money.
A reception after a funeral is just going to be another added expense of the funeral itself.
These receptions are usually very well attended, and there could be representation from every person who went to the funeral service and burial.
Most times, the family of the deceased is too overwhelmed to deal with the cooking and serving of food at the reception.
Instead, they will have this event catered, and that will also add quite a bit of money to the overall cost for the funeral.
17. Memorial Services
Sometimes people will offer to do memorial services in addition to a funeral.
Funerals can often be very emotional and raw, and it may be more than a family wants to deal with at any given time.
The memorial service tends to be slightly lighter, and there is usually nobody at a memorial service.
This does not mean that there are no funeral expenses.
In fact, if you do a memorial service, you may have to still do a small funeral and burial, and then afterward, do a memorial service.
Having to pay for and handle more than one ceremony is going to make this process much more expensive than originally anticipated.
18. Transportation for Family
Sometimes after a funeral service, the entire family will head to the burial site.
Although there is usually just a procession of personal vehicles, sometimes a limo will be rented to transport the family.
This can help to keep everyone together and make it easier to find parking and get through the next part of the service.
If the family wishes to travel together in a limo or larger vehicle, it is going to add several hundred dollars to the cost of the funeral.
These high passenger vehicles normally charge by the hour, and this will be several hours’ worth of transportation for them to pay for.
This is one of those optional things which is not absolutely necessary, and instead, it’s just something people like to do at times.
If you are looking to save money, this is one of those features you could leave out.
19. Proper Sendoff
A funeral is the last part of a person’s life.
Most people do not want to do things cheaply or cut corners, as it could feel like a representation of how you felt about the person.
If you do not have the proper respect or love for a person, you may not give them a wonderful funeral.
Of course, this is simply what society has turned funerals into.
Depending on what you believe, the funeral may seem completely unnecessary.
However, the pressures of society have made it feel as though a funeral must be a special and beautiful ceremony to commemorate the life of a person.
If you do not feel that funerals serve this purpose, then you can go with something much simpler.
Last but certainly not least is the fact that funerals are a necessity.
Unfortunately, at the end of a life, there has to be something done with the body and something done for the grieving family.
These types of situations where there are no alternatives are always going to lead to higher pricing.
With funerals, we don’t get a choice.
Of course, you will be able to make some choices along the way, but the choice to have a funeral or not is really not going to be there.
The funeral needs to happen, and it’s important to be aware of some of the costs and how they can add up.
Try to bring another person with you when you plan a funeral.
Sometimes having that extra bit of advice can make the process smoother and help you feel as though you have made the right choices.