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Times changing with funeral planning

By Joe Casper

The more things change, the more they remain the same. However, for the American funeral these are changing times.

One of the biggest changes is the preference of cremation over burial. Cost is the main factor. All crematories in Massachusetts are located on cemetery grounds.

The average charge for the crematory is about $450. The cost for an average private cemetery, a grave opening and grave box could cost on average $5,000.

Neither the crematory nor the cemetery pay commission to the funeral home.

The tradition of the funeral home coordinating all of the cemetery arrangements, then adding it to the bill — with no profit to them — is a mystery.

Recently, a woman purchased two graves in a very prestigious cemetery.

With the grave opening and vault the cost came to more than $16,000. The cemetery salesperson said, “Make sure you bring us a check the morning of the funeral.”

The person who purchased the graves believed the funeral home received 20 percent. This is untrue, the funeral home receives nothing from the cemetery.

When a family chooses cremation over a burial, there is no reason for the funeral director to push burial over cremation. The funeral home gets nothing either way.

More people are having a traditional service with a wake followed by a cremation. They have visiting hours and a priest or a minister presides over the wake service.

Another choice is direct cremation. After the person is removed from the place where they died, all the paperwork is completed and 48 hours later they are taken to the crematory. A memorial service follows at a church or some other location. The family makes its own plans and arrangements.

Should the family choose to put a death notice in the newspaper, they are responsible for writing it. The newspaper will call the funeral home to confirm that the person is deceased.

If people wish to scatter the cremated remains they do so at a location of their choice. Some people choose to have the cremated remains buried in a cemetery grave. The cemetery will charge an interment fee, which can range from $600 to around $1,200.

With fewer traditional burials, the cemetery has increased the cost for interring cremated remains to offset the loss of regular interment fees. In greater Boston, interment fees for private cemeteries begin at $1,600.

Each cemetery has its own price list of services and sets its own policy regarding what consumers are allowed to do. Prices and options vary.

Joseph Casper is with Casper Funeral Services in Boston. He can be reached at 800-314-1890 or email him at or go online at


One Response to “Times changing with funeral planning”

  1. sara marsden says:

    Joe’s observations are very true. At US Funerals Online we are witnessing some major changes in planning and purchasing habits for funerals. Cremation is certainly becoming much more popular, and cost is a significant reason for this. It is also concerning the number of people who are finding that they are struggling to meet funeral expenses.


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