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Why Is Cremation So Expensive? (10 Reasons)


When a loved one passes, different cultures have different death rites.

A popular death rite is a cremation.

Cremation involves the process of burning the remains.

The family then has the choice of taking home their loved one’s ashes.

Considering that cremation is a relatively straightforward process, you may wonder why it’s expensive.


Why Is Cremation So Expensive? (10 Reasons)

urn funeral and cemetery


Cremation can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as expensive as several thousand dollars.

Certain decisions like having a pre-cremation viewing and a post-cremation burial can make the service even more expensive.

Let’s look at these decisions and factors in more detail.


1. Funeral Home Services

funeral home


One of the reasons cremation is expensive is the funeral home services you may need to pay for.

When you choose to have your loved one cremated, you also get the choice of having a funeral home take care of the details.

You essentially pay them a fee, and they take care of the rest for you.

They’ll ask you questions about how you want certain aspects of the cremation to go, then they’ll make sure that it happens.

They basically act like your go-between with the cremation house.

Using a funeral home’s services is ideal if you plan on having a traditional funeral for your loved one, too.

That way, the funeral home can take care of those details in addition to the cremation’s details.

Some people might choose to enlist the help of a funeral home because of their grief.

It can be difficult to find the motivation to do anything after a loved one has passed.

Paying for a funeral home’s services allows you time to focus on grieving and getting other affairs in order while they handle the unpleasant paperwork of it all.

Of course, since you’re using someone’s services, you’re going to need to pay for them.

The exact amount you pay comes down to the actual funeral home.

Some have expensive services while others keep their services affordable.

It’s also a service that you pay for in addition to the cremation services.

As such, paying for a funeral home to help you with the process makes cremating your loved one a lot more expensive.


2. Body Preparation

Close-up of dead body feet at morgue or hospital with toe label


There are several steps involved in the cremation process.

One of those is body preparation.

When you choose to have a loved one cremated, the officials don’t just strip the body down and toss it into a furnace.

There’s a lot of preparation beforehand.

The body usually gets cleaned and bathed.

During that process, the technician will also remove any jewelry that’s on the body.

They’ll hand over the jewelry to the family.

Certain medical devices will also need to be removed since they could interfere with the cremation.

Chemicals from those devices could get released, for example, once exposed to extreme heat.

The technician usually recycles those devices.

Other mechanical parts like screws, joints, and pins remain where they are since they don’t interfere with the cremation process.

Body preparation can take some time.

If the cremation house is busy, it may take the technicians a bit of time before they get to your loved one.

Since each body gets handled respectfully, no one gets rushed through.

States also sometimes put a delay on cremation services, and this may further prolong the preparation of the body.

This aspect of cremation makes the process expensive because you’re paying for the technician’s time and skill.

You’re also essentially paying for any materials that the technician uses to clean your loved one’s body.

For example, if you follow a certain religion that requires your loved one’s body to get cleaned with a certain type of oil, then it may cost you more.

The price of the oil can influence how much expense the cremation house takes on to prepare your loved one’s body.

Body preparation is a vital part of the process, but it does make cremation expensive.


3. Open-Casket Services

Funeral home open casket


Another aspect of cremation that makes it expensive is if you choose to have an open-casket service or not.

A lot of people think that because they’re choosing to have their loved one cremated, they don’t get to have a funeral.

That isn’t the case.

You can still have a funeral for your loved one.

It will make your cremation service more expensive, however.

One reason people choose cremation is that it’s usually cheaper than a traditional burial.

To make cremation even cheaper, they’ll forgo a funeral.

That isn’t mandatory, however.

If you want to have a funeral for your loved one, you’re more than welcome to do so.

You can just expect your cremation expense to be higher.

That’s because you have to pay to rent a funeral home for the showing.

With people dying every day, the funeral home only has so many available slots.

You end up needing to pay more because demand is high for funeral services.

You also end up paying for all the things that occur for an open-casket viewing.

One of the most important is embalming.

The funeral home will embalm your loved one to temporarily halt the decaying process.

This makes viewing the body and saying farewells a bit easier.

That process takes someone skilled to perform it.

If an unskilled technician attempts embalming, the results can be horrific.

Some funeral homes will also put makeup on the body to make them look more natural.

Depending on how nice the funeral home is, they may have a grand viewing area and a beautiful casket for your loved one to lie in during the funeral.

All those details cost money.

Cremations are expensive when you include a funeral service.


4. Cremation Casket

Burning candle in mortuary


When you choose to have your loved one buried in a traditional interment ceremony, you usually have to choose a casket to bury them in.

For cremation, you have a similar process.

Cremations are expensive because of the price of cremation caskets.

Some cremation caskets are extremely expensive because they’re ornate.

You can even choose to get customized cremation caskets at some funeral homes.

The advantage of customized cremation caskets is that they represent your loved one.

You might have favorite sayings etched onto it.

You might have them draw an idyllic view or something that meant something to your loved one.

Whatever you decide, you can expect your cremation casket to be a large part of your cremation expense.

Cremation caskets are expensive because they’re built for a singular purpose.

They’re not mass-produced in factories.

Cremation caskets are also special because they have to burn.

They use unique materials that aren’t always the cheapest to source.

All these factors make them more expensive to manufacture.

You then have to cover the costs of manufacturing.

Cremations are expensive because cremation caskets are expensive.


5. Cremation Viewing

Couple with mortuary urn and flowers at funeral


Cremations are also expensive when you choose to undergo a cremation viewing.

A cremation viewing is when you stand either in the room or just outside of it to watch your loved one enter the furnace.

It’s not unlike attending a traditional burial.

Instead of watching the casket be lowered into the ground, you can watch the casket enter the furnace.

This service costs extra because it requires the cremation house to take special steps for your involvement.

For one, they need to ensure that the area is safe for guests.

Since they have bodies and furnaces around, there’s always a chance that something can happen.

Secondly, they need to ensure that the experience is as special and intimate as possible.

Cremation houses know how important it is to send loved ones into the next life.

They want to ensure that you feel comfortable and involved with the process.

They don’t want it to feel too clinical or rushed.

Third, it also means that the cremation house needs to make time for the viewing.

Without a viewing, the house could just cremate the body as soon as the funeral is over.

If you want to view the cremation service, that’s something they need to schedule with the other families who want a cremation viewing.

It means their services are in more demand when the supply of time is low.

Any time there’s higher demand than supply, the price of the service or product is higher.

Since it costs them a bit more time, they charge you for it.

You can make your loved one’s cremation cheaper by forgoing a cremation viewing.

However, if it’s important to you, you can expect the cremation to be on the pricey side.


6. Urn Costs

Couple in showroom and showroom


Another major cost of cremation is the price of the urn.

After your loved one goes through the furnace, their bones go through a grinder.

The end result is a collection of fine ash.

Those ashes then get put into an urn.

From that point, you’re able to do what you want with the urn.

Some people choose to bury the urn in a plot of land like a traditional burial.

Others choose to keep the ashes at home with them.

A few will scatter or pour the ashes in places that were important to their loved ones.

The latter option is usually illegal.

Because you receive your loved one’s ashes, choosing the urn is quite important.

There’s no shortage of different materials that you can choose for the urn.

There are cheap urns, and then there are expensive urns made from rich materials.

You can even get customized urns to make it even more special for housing your loved one’s remains.

Urns are cheaper than caskets, but they still tend to cost a lot of money.

The more customized it is, the more expensive it is.

That’s because the cremation house has to spend time and materials to customize it how you want.

One of the most expensive parts of cremation is buying the urn.


7. Flower Arrangements

Selective focus of senior man holding flowers


An often overlooked expense of cremation is the price of flower arrangements.

If you’re having an open-casket viewing or a funeral, one common expense you’ll pay for is flower arrangements.

Flowers bring a bit of life into a dreary and depressing event.

As such, a lot of people put some thought into the kind of flower arrangements that they want for their loved one’s funeral or cremation.

The more intricate the arrangement or the larger number of flowers you have, the more expensive the service is going to be.

That’s because funeral homes need to buy those flowers from a florist.

A few cheaper funeral homes might have fake flowers that they can reuse for each funeral.

However, most funeral homes use real flowers because they know how important it is to their clients.

Real flowers can be expensive because the florist must buy them from a grower who has to grow them in large numbers.

If you want the funeral home filled with flowers, for example, that’s going to be a pretty expensive order.

You end up paying for the flowers and for any service fees that the funeral home attaches to the price tag.

The price becomes even more expensive when you want special flowers.

For example, if you know that your loved one had a penchant for a specific type of flower that isn’t currently blooming, then the funeral home has to work harder to find a florist who sells that flower.

They may end up getting it delivered from across the country.

Since it costs them more to get the flowers for you, you can expect to pay more for the service.

Cremation can sometimes be very expensive due to the price of flower arrangements.


8. Post-Cremation Burial

Woman with rose and funerary urn at church


For some families, cremation is only the start of the process.

A lot of people tend to think that if they choose to cremate their loved ones, then they’re not able to bury them afterward.

That isn’t the case.

You can have your loved one buried in a traditional burial afterward.

Instead of burying a body, you end up burying the urn.

Burying an urn is cheaper than burying a body because it’s smaller.

However, you still need to buy a plot of land.

The cemetery will charge you for the work involved in preparing the site and erecting a tombstone for your loved one.

Cremation is expensive when you choose to do a post-cremation burial service.


9. Funeral Or Life Insurance

Businesswoman working on computer burial insurance


One of the reasons cremation is expensive is that you end up paying for it even before you need it.

Some people choose to get life insurance or funeral insurance.

They pay a monthly bill which goes towards coverage of funeral costs.

The problem with funeral or life insurance is that it doesn’t always cover the full cost of a funeral or cremation.

As a result, you end up paying a monthly premium only to have to pay for the cremation, too, in the end.

This makes cremation expensive because you’re paying money for some coverage, but you still get hit with expenses even after paying your premiums.


10. Increased Demand

Columbarium wall near crematorium


A final reason cremation is expensive is increased demand.

More people than ever are looking to have their loved ones cremated rather than buried in a traditional burial.

There are several reasons behind this shift.

For one, cremation tends to be cleaner since bodies aren’t left to rot in the ground.

It also means cemeteries need less space which is ideal for the environment and development plans.

Finally, with the cost of living as high as it is in some areas, cremation is just a bit cheaper than traditional burials.

However, with high demand comes higher prices.

Since more people want the service, cremation houses raise their prices.



Cremation is a cheaper way to lay your loved one to rest, but it’s still expensive.

The costs associated with the cremation process and any post-cremation and pre-cremation services make it more expensive.

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