How to Have a Funeral With Cremation

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In the United States, cremation is now more popular than burial. But many people still want to be able to have a viewing or service where family and friends can say their final goodbyes with the body present. And in fact, you can combine a traditional funeral with cremation: 31 percent of people who were cremated in 2015 had a full funeral with viewing, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

With a funeral and cremation, the body is prepared for a visitation or viewing (if desired) and the physical body is also present at the funeral. After the funeral, the body is then brought to the crematorium, where it is cremated.

A funeral and cremation can have a lot of moving parts, and can be expensive—and potentially confusing—to arrange. A funeral director and funeral home can help take care of all the moving pieces, from transporting the body from the place of death to the funeral home to the funeral to the crematorium, as well as assist in the timing and structure of these events.

Planning the funeral

If you are planning a funeral with cremation, the funeral can follow whatever program you wish. The key difference is that, while in a traditional funeral with a burial, the funeral is followed by a burial at the cemetery. In a funeral with cremation, after the funeral service, the body is taken to the crematorium and cremated. The immediate family may choose to be present at the cremation if they choose.

Later, once the ashes (also known as cremains) are returned to a family, a family may opt for a small graveside service (if they plan to bury the ashes) or a “scattering ceremony” (if they plan to scatter the ashes).

Costs

The national median cost of a funeral followed by cremation was $6,260 in 2017, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. That includes the following costs:

  • Basic services fee. This is the basic fee funeral providers can charge all customers and includes the funeral director’s planning services, obtaining death certificates, and other services common to all funerals. The national median was $2,100 in 2017.
  • Embalming. If the funeral is a few days after death, and you are planning a visitation or open casket, certain states require the body to be embalmed; the national median cost was $725 in 2017. If you’re planning a funeral very soon after death or a memorial with close friends and family, you may be able to opt for refrigeration instead of embalming. This could cost $100 a day.
  • Other preparation of the body. This includes dressing the body and hair/makeup and can cost $250.
  • Transportation. Transporting the body from place of death to funeral home averages $325.
  • Casket. If you’re planning a cremation after a funeral, you may be able to rent a casket for the viewing and funeral, for about $500. The body will then be transferred to a cardboard box for cremation. You can also purchase a casket that can go through the cremation process, though this can run you $1,000 or more, depending on the type of casket you choose.
  • Use of facilities and staff for viewing and/or funeral ceremony. Expect to pay around $500 for a funeral service and $425 for a viewing.
  • Cremation. If the funeral home uses an outside crematory, the fee for the actual cremation runs about $350.

Make sure you’re fully aware of what you’re purchasing, and call around to different funeral homes for price quotes. The funeral home must allow you to use outside or third-party vendors for items like the cremation container, casket, or urn for ashes, and cannot require you to use services you don’t want, like embalming.

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