We passed a sign the other day that was a little disturbing. It said:

(Funeral donations)

Unfortunately, money is often an issue when someone dies, and funerals are expensive. (If I remember right, my mom’s funeral was about $10,000, and it was not especially lavish.) It’s just one of those things that no one wants to think about.

If you are having a burial, at a minimum there is the cost of the plot, the casket, the required concrete casket liner, the funeral director’s fees, and the cemetery’s fees. Then there are the extras like flowers, a headstone, a memorial bulletin, and newspaper fees for the obituary. Usually food and a location for guests to gather afterwards are provided by others, but not always.

But there are ways to save on funerals. Cremations without a viewing or service are less expensive. (Cremation can actually be more expensive or about the same if you also want to have a traditional service.) You can buy caskets directly (from individual businesses — our neighbor actually sells them, and I’ve heard that Costco does too) instead of purchasing them through the funeral home. Funeral homes themselves will often have brochures that explain ways to save money, and in some cases they are legally required to give you that information.