Just a decade ago no one could have guessed how popular cremation would become in the U.S. Cremation is now more common than burial, and one of the primary reasons for that is cost. But recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and others have called into question how cost-effective cremation is compared to burial.
Given that cost is such a huge factor for many families, it’s not surprising that another option is quickly becoming more common. Direct cremation is a death care service that includes the cremation only without funeral services. The streamlined service makes direct cremation more affordable, but is it the cheapest option?
The Cost of Direct Cremation
First, let’s briefly discuss the cost of direct cremation. When you rule out the costs that are associated with funeral services, cremation becomes very affordable. Many families will be about to find direct cremation services for around $1,000.
As you’ll see below, this is an extremely reasonable cost compared to the alternatives.
Direct Cremation Cost vs Traditional Burial
Traditional burial has gotten notoriously expensive. The NFDA’s latest survey of funeral costs shows that the median cost of a funeral with burial is $7,848. That is already expensive, but it doesn’t include the cost of a burial plot, grave marker or cemetery fees. Those costs can easily add thousands to the overall cost.
Of course, the family could save by choosing a less expensive casket, but that would only bring the cost down by about $1,000. Opting out of the embalming will save another $775, but there may be other expenses for preserving the body using other means.
Direct Cremation Cost vs Traditional Full-Service Cremation
The key difference between direct cremation and traditional cremation are the funeral services, which require a lot more work and preparation on the part of the crematorium. They are also very costly.
The NFDA reports that the median cost of a cremation with funeral services in 2021 was $6,970. Here again you can save by opting out of the embalming, although you may pay for other preservation services. And it’s possible to save a little more by choosing a cremation casket that’s below the median cost.
Direct Cremation Cost vs Green Burial
Green burial is going to come the closest to direct cremation in price. Families that choose green burial are forgoing many of the formalities that pollute the earth. That lowers the cost, but there’s more responsibility for the family. Green burial plots may also be hard to come by, which could mean you’ll pay more than average.
It’s hard to get a good gauge on average prices for a green burial because there are so many burials. However, based on the essentials that must be done anytime someone dies, the cost of a plot and the need for a casket or burial shroud it’s safe to say green burial will cost at least $1,500+. Keep in mind location has a big impact on the cost of green burial. In some areas you could end up paying $3,500-$5,500.
Direct Cremation vs Natural Organic Recomposition
Natural organic recomposition, better known as human composting, is only legal in a handful of states, but the number is growing. Although it is a very natural process, natural organic recomposition isn’t cheap. You’ll pay anywhere from $4,000-$7,000 depending on the provider, and that doesn’t include any funeral services.
Flame-Based Cremation vs Water Cremation
There’s one last cost factor to consider with traditional or direct cremation. Some crematoriums now offer water cremation in addition to flame-based cremation. Some people prefer water cremation because it’s even more eco-friendly than traditional cremation, but it comes at a price. Typically, water cremation is about twice as expensive as flame-based cremation. While flame-based direct cremation is usually $750-$1,250, water cremation is often $2,000+.
Flame-based direct cremation is going to be the most cost-effective body disposition option by far. What’s even better is that direct cremation is widely available in all states across the country. If you’d like to know more about the direct cremation process, please contact Direct Cremate by phone or text.