Tag Archives: Funeral

todd fisher with prozac pill shaped urn

Carrie Fisher’s urn is shaped like a giant Prozac pill, which she would’ve loved


By JOSH DICKEY for Mashable

January 6, 2017

Carrie Fisher’s legacy as a mental health advocate and her fiercely ironic sense of humor were encapsulated in one final gesture: Her Prozac pill-shaped urn.

Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, who died a day apart last week, were memorialized Thursday at a private service in their adjacent Beverly Hills homes. On Friday, paparazzi captured images of Fisher’s brother Todd at Reynolds’ burial at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles carrying what looked like a giant Prozac pill — which he later confirmed was his late sister’s urn.

“Carrie’s favorite possession was a giant Prozac pill that she brought many years ago. A big pill,” Fisher told reporters, according to ET. “She loved it, and it was in her house, and Billie and I felt it was where she’d want to be.”

ET also reported that Fisher had wished to be cremated, and that some of her ashes were buried with Reynolds on Friday.

“We couldn’t find anything appropriate,” Fisher continued. “Carrie would like that,” he added. “It was her favorite thing, and so that’s how you do it. And so they’re together, and they will be together here and in heaven, and we’re O.K. with that.”

To be sure, Fisher was as cheeky in life about her own obituary as her family was about her final resting place: Fisher wrote in her book Wishful Drinking that she wanted her obit to read that she was “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Todd Fisher also told reporters that the family is planning a larger memorial service “down the road for the public and all the family friends,” but did not give specifics.

Fisher died Dec. 27 at age 60, less than a week after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to LAX. The following day her mother, Singin’ in the Rain star and longtime Hollywood royalty Debbie Reynolds was stricken with stroke-like symptoms and died hours later. She was 84.


Preparing for Cremation

About 50% of the US population now opts for cremation as the final means of disposition. Though it is a straight-forward process, you should be prepared to make some decisions before the cremation takes place.

Remove Valuables Prior to Cremation

Cremation uses intense heat to break down the body to ashes and bone fragment. A typical flame-based cremation retort reaches temperatures between 1400-1800 degrees F. With that in mind, any clothing, jewelry, or valuables left on the deceased will be destroyed by the heat, so you should decide ahead of time whether you will want to remove those items for safe-keeping prior to cremation.

Body Preparation

If you are not having a public viewing, it is not necessary to have the body embalmed or further prepared with hair and makeup. The funeral director may require this if you choose to have a public viewing before the cremation takes place. Keep in mind that embalming and other body preparation will come at an additional cost.

You should also take care to notify the funeral director or crematory of any implanted medical devices, such pacemakers, or prosthetics. Pacemakers will need to be removed prior to cremation to avoid exploding and possibly damaging the retort.

Viewing Before Cremation

If a viewing or service is held prior to cremation, your funeral home may offer you the option to purchase a “rental casket” that has removable one-time use insert. Only the insert will go into retort with the body. Some crematories offer families the ability to attend, witness, or participate in the cremation, such as pushing the button to open the and start the retort.

ID Viewing

To prevent misidentification, a representative of the family may be asked to identify the deceased prior to the cremation taking place. This is often referred to as an “ID Viewing” by funeral directors. This is also the time that you can remove any valuables that you would like to keep. After the identification has taken place, the cremation container will be closed and prepared for cremation. Once this happens, the crematorium will not allow the opening of the container again, so be sure that all valuable you want removed have been and you’ve had enough time to say goodbye.

Cremation Containers

A funeral home or cremation provider will provide you with a price list outlining the cost of Direct Cremation with a container brought by the purchaser as well as with a basic one that they can provide for cremation.

Alternative Cremation Container

An example of an alternative container made of cardboard

You will need to decide if you will furnish your own cremation container such as a cardboard casket, another type of casket or coffin made of natural materials, or a shroud. If not, you can purchase the “alternative container” or another casket that the funeral home or cremation provider offers. The type and cost of alternative containers containers vary widely amongst providers from basic cardboard to basic  untreated wood. Be sure you inquire on the type and cost of the containers available before committing to use one provider or the next.

Once the cremation has taken place and the remains have cooled, they will be raked out into a container to be sifted to remove any remaining metals. The organic matter will then be placed in a pulverizor to grind the remaining bone fragments into a more consistent ash. The cremated remains are then placed into a “temporary” container such as a plastic bag, cardboard box, a tin, or a basic plastic urn at no extra cost. If you have an urn or other preferred vessel, you can provide it to the funeral home or cremation provider to use instead.

For more information on Paying for a Funeral, funeral planning and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library, download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, see your State by State Guide on End of Life issues, get information on How to Pay for a Funeral, view Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links all from our Resources area.

Pablo Garcia Saldana

Everything You Need to Know About Death Certificates

When a loved one dies, you’ll need to order death certificates to submit to certain agencies to shut down accounts or collect benefits. But how many death certificates should you order? Below you’ll learn about the purpose of death certificates, typical uses, how to order them, and how many death certificates you should order.


Ashley Bats|Unsplash|

What is a death certificate?

A death certificate is an official government issued document that states the date, time, location and cause of death. Certificates were originally made and kept by churches, until 1910 when standardized records became mandated by law. In addition to verifying the cause of someone’s death, death certificates are used to track changes in society and mortality trends.

Death certificates must be completed by a medical practitioner (doctor, hospice nurse, medical examiner, coroner, etc.) and funeral director, licensed burial agent, or person acting as such (i.e. family member).

Alan Crawford, Getty Images

The medical practitioner completes questions relating to the cause and manner of death, whether an autopsy was performed, if tobacco use contributed to the death, etc.

The funeral director, agent or person acting as such, will need the following information about the deceased:

Full name

Social security number

Date of birth

Place of birth

Address at the time of death

Marital status

Surviving spouse’s name

Whether they served in the armed forces

Father and mother’s name (maiden included)

Place of death

Highest level of education


Usual occupation and industry/business

In most states, death certificates are filed using the Electronic Death Registration Systems, or EDRS. In other areas, death certificates are filed with the registrar and county health department. While it varies state by state, typically deaths must be reported to the local health department within 72 hours of the death and to the state within five to seven days.

Why do I need to get death certificates?

Death certificates are needed for a plethora of reasons including to close accounts, claim benefits, and file taxes. For legal matters, an official certificate is needed while other institutions only require a copy.

Generally needs a copy:
  • Social security
  • Banks
  • Credit cards
  • Utilities and phone companies
Likely requires an original:
  • Pensions
  • Military benefits
  • Property transfer (real estate, vehicles, etc.)
  • Insurance
  • 401Ks and stocks (if managed by stock broker, only one copy needed)
  • Selling an estate
  • Property claims
  • Closing a business
  • Future marriages


Where can I get a death certificate?

If you are using a funeral home, ordering them from the funeral director is the easiest way. If you need to order them yourself, you can get them from the county or state vital records office.

To find the state vital records office, click on the relevant state link here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm

In some states, you can order death certificates through VitalChek, a website that manages records for many government agencies. They charge a $5-$15 fee per order.


Who can order a certified copy of death certificates?

Certified copies are generally only available to immediate family members, executors, and those who can prove that they have a direct financial interest in the estate. Informational copies are generally available to anyone who requests them.

How many death certificates should you order?

Consider the number of different institutions that might need one; each bank, investment company, etc. and for each property to be transferred; house, boat, etc. A person a modest means may only need three, while a wealthier person could need 10 or more.

How much do death certificates cost?

The fees for death certificates are set by the state or county. Generally the first copy of a death certificate is more than additional copies. You can expect to pay $10 -$25 for the first certified copy. The local registrar or funeral director will be able to tell you how much a death certificate costs.

Whether you are stopping into your local county or city registrar office or ordering online, copies can be paid for with credit card or check, but not with cash. Tip: keep your receipts, as fees for death certificates can sometimes be reimbursed from the estate if agreed upon with the executor.

Adrian Morgan_Unsplash

Funeral Customs & Traditions: The Surprising History Behind Gravestones

“Shhh,” I’d whisper to my little brother, index finger pressed tightly to my lips, “Don’t make any noise or you’ll wake the dead.” We’d stare out the window, holding our breath, as our car passed yet another cemetery. Watching in anticipation as the granite gravestones rushed past in a grey blur, we kept a lookout for any sign of movement among the sculptures. 

Simon Hattinga Verschure |Unsplash|

As time passes beliefs and customs, formerly thought to be written in stone, begin to change and fade taking on new meaning and new purpose. The way we care for our loved ones after their death holds significant sociological and anthropological meaning and the history behind it can be surprising. What was an endearing childhood memory of a generation is, in fact, linked to thousands of years of tradition and superstition. This is the history behind gravestones and the origin of modern funeral customs and traditions.

In the stone age, when humans were still nomadic in nature, the dead would be buried and a great stone or boulder rolled atop the grave. These stones were called gravestones and their purpose was to prevent the deceased from rising after death, a fear still prevalent in modern society. These gravestones, and the superstition guiding their use, persisted as tribes began settling down. But as time wore on the boulders and stones were replaced with more sophisticated grave markers called “dolmens.” The most distinguished grouping of dolmens dates back over 2,000 BC is known by the moniker “Stonehenge.” Located in Wiltshire, England, the purpose of the Stonehenge was realized in early 2008 by a team of archaeologists supported by the National Geographic’s Committee for Research & Exploration. A majority of the world’s wonders, from the pyramids in Egypt to the 5,000 year old stone age cemetery that is the Stonehenge, are an embodiment of our relationship with death and loss.

Hith Stonehenge |History.com|

Ancient Customs

As the social structure of the human race became more sedentary, burial methods driven by fear and seeped with superstition transformed into a desire to remember and honor the dead.

Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian cultures believed the after-world existed within the Earth and so their mummified loved ones were buried within the ground along with their tools of trade and any valuables to aid their passage. It was believed when an ancestor was forgotten, they ceased to exist, and although the after-world of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia was believed to be a dark shadowy place, non-existence was considered far worse than death. Tombs and gigantic pyramids were erected in a Pharaoh’s name and image, while those of common birth were buried close to the home with graves tended to regularly. Stones were carved into the deceased’s likeness would be placed atop a “mastaba,” meaning ‘bench’, to preserve their memory.

In ancient Greece, remembrance of the dead was considered akin to civic-duty, each individual responsible for the honor of their ancestors. They too believed the afterlife took place in the Earth and their dead were buried in tombs and graves covered in marble and stone. Although different states observed different burial rites, each considered crucial to their loved one’s passage to the after-world, preserving the memory of your ancestor was considered most important. Stone statues were carved in the likeness of the dead and placed above the burial site and in some states, children were named after their grandparents.

Samuel Zeller |Unsplash|

In ancient China and the dynasties that follow, burial practices dictated that the dead be entombed with their favorite and most valuable possessions for use in the afterlife. The first emperor of China and founder of the Qing dynasty, Qing Shi Huangti, was buried along with over 6,000 terracotta soldiers and 40,000 bronze swords protecting his tomb, said to have 100 rivers of mercury, towers replicating the after-world and palaces containing rare objects from all over the world (Jane Portal and Qingbo Duan, The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army). Those of common birth were buried in burial mounds covered with stone and burial shrines.

Customs of the Dark Ages

With the introduction of Christianity by the Romans, along with Purgatory and Hell, during the dark ages, superstition and religion began to transform burial customs once more. As Europe was subjected to the plight of constant war and plague, funeral and burial customs changed to match. Burial grounds were moved from the home to roadside lots, and although cremation was popular for a time, increased population and decreased lifespans called for a more rushed internment.

Instead of pleasantries, funerals in the Dark Ages were solemn and quick events. Scenes of death and despair were everywhere; Gothic skulls, cherubs and skeletons were painted upon churches and carved onto headstones with the purpose of scaring away the living . Those who could not afford a headstone used wooden, iron, or brass crosses to mark their grave and the deceased were buried in a wooden coffin if wealthy enough, or wrapped in a shroud. As the plagues swept through Europe, cemeteries were filled to the brim so that walls had to be built around them to retain the soil. The stench and terrifying images peppered around the churches and cemeteries were effective in keeping the living separate from the dead. Loved ones were photographed after their passing in an effort to memorialize them before burial.

Tom Skarbek-Wazynski |Unsplash|

The Victorian era marked the start of the modern funeral trade, when private cemeteries were erected and carpenters found profit in creating elaborate grave markers, and undertaking the elaborate procession that funerals became, to appease their wealthy patrons. Wooden and iron grave markers became crosses, statues, and elaborate monuments carved in stone.

When the study of anatomy became popular in Victorian Europe, unbeknownst to the general public, resurrection men, people hired to disinter graves and steal the bodies for dissection, began raiding graves. As a result, missing bodies gave way to suspicious lore prompting families to hold “wakes” for the dead, where they would stand vigil in the night to look for movement. Bells were placed inside coffins or strung from the coffin to the surface in case of premature burial. Less wealthy individuals would place flowers at a grave or line the perimeter with small stones to mark any disturbances.

Modern Customs

Today, cemeteries are a plethora of combined rituals and practices which stem from thousands of years of beliefs and tradition. Gravestones, once giant boulders rolled a top a grave, are now slabs of granite, marble and stone placed upright at the head of a grave. Mausoleums and vaults originated to combat strides made in science, and statues were meant to impress. Even the type of inscription can be an indicator of the social climate at the time of death. Modern practices are a combination of our combined history; whether you are cremated or embalmed, buried or entombed, even the type of stone you choose for your headstone and whether you leave flowers at a grave has historical meaning.

The Edmonds Cemetery |Lynnwoodtoday.com|

From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, the way we care for our dead has been changing. Influenced by our social, political and religious beliefs throughout time, where and how we bury our dead has always been a mirror image of how we view the living. Today’s youths no longer avoid cemeteries as society would have dictated a mere twenty years ago. Instead, they seek them out in hopes of catching a wild Geodude or to hit a Pokestop. The evolution of tradition and custom is not only prevalent in our every day lives, but also after our death. Modern cemeteries have been thrust into the path of the digital movement, with funeral homes all over the country making the transition online. Who knows what our cemeteries might look like in one hundred years.

For more information on Funeral Customs and Traditions, funeral planning checklists and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library, download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, see your State by State Guide on End of Life issues, get information on How to Pay for a Funeral, view Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links all from our Resources area.


10 Do’s & Don’ts of Condolence Etiquette

There are many unspoken rules of social media etiquette, some universal and others, circumstantial.

Mourning online can be a difficult line to walk; between the giving and receiving of condolences, there is no universally acceptable or unacceptable way to pay your respects. There are many unspoken rules of social media etiquette, some universal and others, circumstantial. When combined with a topic like death, it becomes nearly impossible to know what lines you shouldn’t cross and why. We’ve taken the time to create a set of guidelines of the most common “do’s and don’ts” of condolence etiquette and navigating loss online.


1: DO Send A Message

Sending a message is the most private and personal way you can reach out to someone when communicating on social media. Out of all the methods of condolence-giving out there, sending a message is the most acceptable and supportive method. Don’t hesitate to reach out and send a message to those affected by the loss of a loved one.

2: DON’T Rush

As a mourner, you are not required to respond to every message or comment that comes your way. We understand that you are still healing and it will take some time. Our second rule is to take your time, don’t rush. Everyone grieves on their own time and those who reach out to you already understand. The marvelous thing about social media is you don’t have to fret over an appropriate response time like you would in real life.

3: DO Show Solidarity

With the abundance of recent tragedies occurring around the world, showing solidarity has become a common means of support. As a friend or member of a family currently undergoing some sort of loss, you don’t need a hashtag or photo-filter to show solidarity; simply changing your profile picture to an image of you and the deceased can help memorialize and pay tribute to the good memories you may have shared. It can symbolize the life the deceased lived and immortalize your relationship online so others impacted by loss can feel how much you care.


4: DON’T Apologize for Sharing

So your baby didn’t make it full-term, or maybe your crazy-cool aunt lost her battle with cancer, and every day you are overwhelmed by your thoughts of them. It is normal to want to share even the smallest of memories to anyone who will listen. Posting your memories and thoughts online are good ways to cope and release bottled feeling.  If your entire feed and profile is filled with mention of your loved one, don’t ever apologize for it. Sharing may even assist others who are grieving, open up as well.

5: DO Share Memories

If you were impacted by the news of someone’s passing and have a lot of photos or memories of the deceased, you too can share your memories. As long as it is relevant to loss, it is acceptable. Social media has taken great strides in creating a more global grief forum, in which potentially taboo topics like death can be discussed and explored. Share your memories, share your loss, share your load; it’s what social media was created for after all; connecting and sharing.

6: DON’T Serial Post

As a friend, or acquaintance, the worst thing you could do is take away from the family’s loss by serial posting. Rule six of condolence-giving is to avoid posting comments on each post or swamping a memorial page with daily wishes. While you may feel you are being supportive, in hindsight, it can burden those closely related to the deceased and you may risk coming off as fake or over-enthusiastic.

7: DO Create A Memorial Page

If inspired to create a memorial page to commemorate the life of a loved one and aggregate the influx of well-wishes and memories, take a minute to do so. With sites like Facebook, it can take less than five minutes to get one up and running. Memorial pages can help separate your loved one’s death from the life they lived, as opposed to comments on an inactive profile page. In the context of community, memorial pages are the online equivalent; instead of neighbors bringing you a pie as an excuse to check up on you, users can now leave comments and messages on a memorial page. By having a space purely for remembrance, you can begin to move on with your life and whenever you are struck with longing or sadness, you have a designated space you can go, to remember and share in your loved one’s memories.


8: DO , DON’T ‘Like’

Before the most recent Facebook update, users had only one option; to ‘like’ or not to ‘like.’ When dealing with touchy subjects like the death of a friend or family member, heaven forbid you press ‘like’ by accident. But today, Facebook users have the choice between ‘like,’ ‘love,’ ‘wow,’ ‘sad,’ and ‘angry’ emoticons. The most acceptable choices for an “R.I.P.” post would be to click ‘love’ or ‘sad’ followed by a warmhearted comment or private message.

9: Don’t Be First

Although ranked low on this list, guideline number nine is one of the most important. If someone in your family or a close friend passed away, it is recommended you give the immediate family overseeing death-care details several days, or even a week, to notify all next of kin before posting about it on social media. One of the most painful things when finding out a relative died is to read about it on social media. While paying condolences online is increasingly common, the best way is still the old fashioned way: a telephone call.

10: DON’T Get Too Overwhelmed

Last but not least, be sure to do what is best for you in your time of need. Following the loss of a loved one, the outpouring of texts, emails, calls and social media notifications can begin to take its toll. You may feel you’re too involved or not involved enough in sharing your grief and responding to condolences. Do not let it go to heart. You will have time for all of that. But first, focus on healing and only take on as much as you can handle. The messages and comments will not disappear. And neither will those who care.

This list stands to provide you with a guideline when maneuvering death and loss in an increasingly digital world. In the case you recently lost a loved one and you don’t know where to start when planning a funeral, I’m Sorry to Hear can help.

For more information on Paying for a Funeral, funeral planning and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library, download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, see your State by State Guide on End of Life issues, get information on How to Pay for a Funeral, view Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links all from our Resources area.



Everything You Want to Know About Immediate Burials

Immediate burial, also known as direct burial or simple burial, is the interment of a body in the days immediately following death. Immedited burial, similar to direct cremation, is one of the most cost effective burial options available and is offered by all funeral homes in the United States.

What is Immediate Burial?

Immediate burial is the committal of a body immediately following a death with no embalming, service or ceremony at the funeral home. Immediate burial, similar to direct cremation, is a simple method of disposition that must be offered and listed on the general price list of all funeral homes.

Why Immediate Burial?

Immediate Burial is Affordable

An immediate or direct burial is less than half the price of a full service funeral because it negates the use of potentially costly services such as embalming, cosmetic preparation of the body, viewings and ceremonies facilitated at or by the funeral home.

Immediate Burial Is Environmentally Conscious

From the casket to the body, the substances being interred are left in a more natural state than with other burial methods. This allows the body and container to decompose at a faster rate and decrease the amount of harmful substances put into the soil and nearby water sources.

Immediate Burial is More Efficient

Whether you are short on funds or short on time, immediate burial is by far the most efficient burial option. Because of its informal nature, planning is significantly easier. You can host a memorial service at a time and location most convenient for you and your family, which is ideal in instances where a death occurred out-of-state. In many cases, if a family desires a graveside service, the funeral home will allow them to add one to the cost of the immediate burial package.

What is Included with Immediate Burial?

Immediate burial cost includes:

  • Basic Service Fee
  • Transportation of the body from the location of death, whether at home, hospital, or at a morgue, to their facility and cemetery
  • Filing of the death certificate (copies are extra), body transportation permit, and burial permit if necessary
  • The placement of the body into a container that you have chosen. The cost of the container is extra but you may supply your own or choose a simple inexpensive wooden casket, eco-friendly casket, or fiberboard or alternative casket

Typically the interment takes place at a date and time convenient for the funeral director; however a simple graveside service may be included at the discretion of the funeral home. 

The cost of a cemetery plot or crypt is not included in the immediate burial price. 

What is Excluded in the Cost of Immediate Burial?

  • 3rd party services that require cash advances such as the placement of a newspaper obituary, flowers, and copies of death certificate
  • Casket or burial container
  • Burial plot or crypt in a mausoleum
  • Embalming, dressing, and cosmetic alterations as well as viewings, services, and ceremonies facilitated by or at the funeral home are not included.

Some funeral homes may offer a graveside service, headstone or grave marker, and copies of the death certificate, for an additional fee.

In instances where a graveside service is omitted from the cost, according to federal Funeral Rule, if a family member wants to briefly view the deceased by lifting the lid of the casket prior to an immediate burial, they may do so. The Funeral Rule prohibits the funeral home from charging the family for preparation of the body if embalming is declined and the request to see the deceased does not constitute a formal viewing or visitation.

Service Options with a Immediate Burial

Immediate burials are the most basic and simplest means of interment, with no service, viewing or embalming. Some funeral homes may allow you to add a simple service, such as a graveside service, for an additional cost. Other services such as a viewing, visitation, and funeral service will change your burial choice from immediate burial to full-service burial, significantly increasing the costs. Be sure to read the General Price Lists thoroughly and clarify any questions you have with the funeral director.

Memorial services at a time and place chosen by the family can can be held at any point in time before or after a immediate burial.

For more information on Paying for a Funeral, funeral planning and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library, download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, see your State by State Guide on End of Life issues, get information on How to Pay for a Funeral, view Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links all from our Resources area.


Everything You Need to Know about Direct Cremation

Whether you are tight on funds, like the simplicity of cremation, or are environmentally conscious, you may choose a direct cremation. By law, every funeral home and cremation provider must offer a Direct Cremation package as a “minimal service.”

What is Direct Cremation?

Direct Cremation is the cremation of a body in the days immediately following a death. Direct Cremation, sometimes called “simple cremation”, does not include the use of a funeral home or its staff to facilitate any viewing, visitation, funeral or memorial service at the funeral home or graveside.

Why Direct Cremation?

Direct Cremation is Affordable

Direct cremation does not include a funeral or memorial service at the funeral home, therefore, the use of the funeral home’s staff and facilities can be skipped avoiding many of the costs that come with a “traditional” or full service funeral. In some states, in addition to full service funeral homes there are direct cremation providers who exclusively offer direct cremation, further reducing costs.

Direct Cremation Is [Slightly More] Environmentally Conscious

Since direct cremation takes place in the days following death, it eliminates the need to preserve the body. By foregoing embalming you decrease the amount of harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde and methanol, seeping into the earth.

You also don’t need to take up land resources via a cemetery plot or purchase a casket, vault or grave liner, saving additional resources. However, cremation requires intense energy, giving off high quantities of CO2, making it less environmentally-friendly than some expect. Alkaline hydrolysis, or water-cremation, is a greener option for cremation but is not yet widely available in the USA.

Cremation Saves Space

After the body is cremated, the ashes can be placed in a vessel of your choice or scattered, providing many options for long term storage of ashes or other creative ways to spread remains. By eliminating the use of a burial plot, you can reserve more land for later use.

What is Included in Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation includes:

  • the use of the funeral home or cremation provider to pick up the deceased from the place of death
  • transportation of the deceased to the funeral home and/or crematory
  • filing of the necessary paperwork for death certificates, cremation disposition permits, and Social Security

Depending on the state, the cost of the cremation (a crematory fee) may or may not be included. You should read the General Price List description carefully to see if the cost of cremation is included in the direct cremation price. If it is not stated, you should inquire with the funeral director and expect to pay the crematory fee in addition to the Direct Cremation. Crematory fees typically range from $200-$400.

What is Excluded in the cost of Direct Cremation?

Direct cremation is the least expensive disposition option as it eliminates some of the most costly expenses involving death – embalming, use of the facilities and staff of a funeral home, a casket, cemetery, and burial vault or grave liner.

When selected as the means of final disposition, the body is taken to a crematory from their place of death, and cremated in a simple container, often called an “alternative container” or “cremation container” which is typically made from cardboard or other lightweight fiberboard. You may provide your own container or the funeral home can provide you with a “minimal container” of their choice. These often cost from $25-$200.

There is no viewing, wake, or funeral service (body is present), memorial service (ashes may or may not be present), or graveside service (for interment of the urn) of any kind and no need to purchase a casket or cemetery plot.

If you elect to bury the cremated remains, there will be additional fees in order to purchase an urn and/or urn vault, tombstones or grave markers and to purchase a cemetery plot or niche.

Cost of a Direct Cremation

Prices for direct cremation vary widely between providers. In states where direct cremation or direct disposal establishments are allowed, you can find direct cremations as low as $700. Direct cremations offered by full-service funeral homes are generally more expensive (you still pay for their overhead) and can range from $750 to $3,000+.

As there is no actual service included in direct cremation, you don’t need to choose the closest one. Many funeral home and cremation providers will travel 25 miles without additional charge.

Arranging a Direct Cremation

A funeral home or cremation provider will be able to handle all aspects of a cremation. Many crematories operate on a “wholesale” basis meaning they do not work with the general public and will require you to obtain the assistance of a licensed funeral director. The funeral director can assist you with completing the death certificate, obtaining necessary permits and authorization and transporting the body to the crematory.

Service Options with a Direct Cremation

Columbarium of Pere Lachaise

If you are interested in a direct cremation but want to have a service as well, a memorial service or celebration of life can be held at a later date in your home, place of worship, park, or anywhere else of your choosing. If you chose to purchase a cemetery plot or niche at a columbarium, you may inquire about the cost of having a graveside service or small ceremony at the location you selected.

For more information on  funeral planning and resources to guide you through planning a funeral, visit the I’m Sorry to Hear article library, download a Funeral Planning Checklist, review the Casket Guide, see your State by State Guide on End of Life issues, get information on How to Pay for a Funeral, view Funeral Planning Tips, and access Funeral Consumer Advocacy links all from our Resources area.