Funerals are expensive. If not anticipated, they can put severe financial strain on a family. Deacons should play an important role in making the funeral arrangements…
Typical funeral costs in 2020 were around $10,000. The biggest factors in the expense are:
- The funeral home costs (about $6,000)
- The cemetery and burial (about $2,000)
- Grave marker or headstone (about $2,000)
The family spends approximately $6,000 on goods and services purchased from the funeral home. Here is a price breakdown of some of those typical costs:
* casket – $2,300
* funeral director’s basic services fee – $1,500
* embalming and body preparation – $600
* funeral ceremony and viewing – $1,000
* miscellaneous (hearse, death certificates, obituary, etc.) – $600
Next are the expenses related to the cemetery:
The average traditional funeral service is followed by body burial in a cemetery. While most cemeteries used to be owned by non-profit organizations, nowadays many are owned by the same for-profit corporations that own the funeral homes. The average family will spend approximately $2,000 for goods and services at the cemetery. Here is a price breakdown of the typical costs:
* grave space – $1,000
* cost to dig the grave ( sometimes called the open/close fee) – $1,000
Many families are surprised to learn that the price they pay for the grave site does not include the cost to dig the hole for burial, but this is how it works.
One expense not listed here is the burial vault or grave liner. They are designed to prevent the ground from caving in and settling as the body and casket decay. Many cemeteries require one or the other. Vaults are more expensive and can cost several thousands of dollars. Grave liners are the cheapest.
Another site provides a breakdown of the funeral home costs coming out to $8,755, which does not include the burial plot, headstone, or flowers:
- Funeral home’s basic service fee (nondeclinable) – $2,100
- Transporting remains to funeral home – $325
- Embalming – $725
- Preparing the body in other ways, such as makeup and hair styling – $250
- Facilities and staff to manage a viewing – $425
- Facilities and staff to manage a funeral ceremony – $500
- Hearse – $325
- Service Car – $150
- Basic memorial printed package – $160
- Metal casket – $2,400
- Median cost of funeral with viewing and burial – $7,360
- Vault – $1,395
- Cost with Vault – $8,755
These numbers are from a funeral insurance website. Their intent is to scare the reader into buying their insurance product, which is a form of whole life insurance, which you should never do. I have written an article on this: Never Buy Whole Life Insurance.
Deacons in the church should know how much funerals cost. When they advise their member families on financial issues and budgeting, this cost should factor into the family’s plan.
Funeral home directors are salesmen. They take advantage of grieving widows in a time of vulnerability. They convince them that they need to spend as much money on “upgrades” as possible to “honor the life” of their husband.
This is a lie. This tactic preys on the victim’s guilt. A widow may be manipulated into thinking she didn’t do enough for her husband while he was alive, so to atone for her sins she will try to pay off her guilt with a lavish, expense funeral.
Deacons must guard their member families from falling victim in their time of grief.
The best way to do this is to plan ahead. Husbands should plan out their funerals in advance. This way, there are no surprises when the day comes. He has already taken care of the final arrangements. His widow does not have to deal with pushy salesmen. Deacons should encourage husbands to plan their funerals in advance.
Deacons should also offer to act on the behalf of families who have just suffered the loss of a loved one. The deacons will not be pushed around. They are the white knights, guarding the families from preying funeral salesmen. They are in a position to be immune from emotional manipulation.
Get familiar with the costs of a funeral. Learn how these costs can be reduced. Consult with your pastor and ask if it would be okay for the diaconate to put together an information packet on funerals to inform the congregation. Offer to act as agents on behalf of the grieving family.
The first call a grieving widow should make upon the death of her husband should be to her pastor, not to the funeral home. The pastor should then call the deacons.