Understanding Funeral & Cremation Pricing

By: Brian Flowers
Monday, February 2, 2015

Prices for cremation and funeral services can vary dramatically, even in our local area. Businesses that offer these services can be separated into two distinct categories: discount firms and full-service firms.

At the time of publishing this website, the lowest advertised price at a discount firm in Whatcom County is $595, which is for a direct cremation through one of the local cremation societies. However, if price is your only concern, and you have time to haggle, you may be able to find a lower price by shopping around.

Keep in mind that a discount service provider is in the low price business and, therefore, operates under very tight budgets. Unfortunately, this means they have to cut corners somewhere to keep their prices as low as possible. In Whatcom County, discount firms often operate out of a small office or they may have no office at all and simply rent space in a self-storage locker. Either way, their ability to care for the deceased in a dignified manner is limited at best.

Nonetheless, if you are considering a discount cremation company, here are five questions you should ask before you trust a funeral service with your loved ones.

Do they own and operate their own crematory, or do they contract with a third-party service? If they contract with a third party, where are they located and have they inspected the facility recently?
Exactly where will your loved one be before cremation? Is the facility clean and secure? Is it temperature controlled? Can you see it?
What is included in their price? Will the family have to purchase a marker separately?
Can the family say goodbye to their loved one before the cremation? Will someone from the discount firm be available to help the family?
So that you can be assured that you actually have your loved one’s ashes, how does the discount cremation company positively identify the cremated remains?

Moles Farewell Tributes believes the answers to these questions are so important that we own and operate our own crematory in order to maintain the highest standards throughout the process. We are also the only cremation service in Whatcom County to include a free marker and free placement of the ashes at our Stillwaters Cremation Cemetery.

When choosing to use a discount service provider, the family is faced with a very difficult choice related to holding any form of memorial gathering, whether large or small. They can do nothing at all, which often leads to prolonged grief. Or, they can take on the task of coordinating everything themselves, which can be overwhelming to say the least.

The second category of businesses offering cremation or funeral services is referred to as full service. In our area, some of these firms are traditional funeral homes and others offer a more innovative style of service.

Whether traditional or innovative, a full-service firm is designed to take care of your loved one, plus support, and facilitate, the inevitable gathering of family and friends that takes place whenever we lose a loved one. This gathering, or reunion, is a time to share the stories and warm memories. We laugh, we cry, we make plans to get together, and we remember the stories. The memorial event unites us, family and friends, as we celebrate the life of our loved one in a very meaningful and special way.

Regarding the total price of a memorial event: Nationwide, the average price of a full-service memorial ending in cremation is $6,150. You can typically add $1,500 if choosing burial instead of cremation.

At Moles Farewell Tributes, our average full-service memorial event last year was $3,500. But keep in mind that this is just the average. Some families paid much less because they wanted a smaller, private service. Other families paid more because of the size and style of service they wanted for their loved one. However, every family we serve is covered by our unique Farewell Satisfaction Guarantee. Our goal is to ensure that 100% of families we serve are 100% satisfied.

In many ways, the price of a memorial service is similar to the price of a wedding. It all depends upon the style of service, the venue, and how many people will be in attendance.

Some families choose to work with a full-service firm even when they choose to forgo a memorial service or perhaps do it themselves. These families will typically pay more than they would have paid at a discount firm, but the price difference is worth it when they factor in the higher level of care their loved one will receive, plus the additional services provided to the family.

Although the total price is certainly important, it’s really about what you are receiving for that price. In other words, it’s about value. Regardless of how much you spend on a memorial service or funeral, if the experience does not meet the emotional needs of your family, you’ve spent too much.

One word of caution: When calling what you believe to be a full-service funeral home, always ask if they have a discount price list available. Although uncommon, there are some funeral homes that operate a discount cremation service on the side. The service may be essentially the same, but the prices could be significantly different. If you ask for the discount price list, you could save yourself a lot of money.


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