funeral 7

How To Choose Whether To Have A Funeral Or Memorial Service

Funerals and memorial services provide an opportunity for family members, friends, and others who cared about the deceased to honour and remembered the person who died while offering comfort and support to those closest to them and each other. Whether it's planned after death occurs (an "at-need" situation) or beforehand (a "preneed" situation), arranging a funeral or memorial service is often an emotional and sometimes exhausting process.

Planning a funeral or memorial service is a highly personal process. Your life experiences will shape your decisions, relationship to the deceased, what the deceased wanted, what you desire for yourself after you die, what you can afford, and other factors.

Many people mistakenly assume that a funeral and cemetery burial are the same things or that choosing cremation means you can't also hold a funeral service with the deceased's embalmed body present beforehand. Check out our extensive list of Melbourne Funeral Services to help you arrange a funeral for your loved one.

Funeral Service

A funeral service typically takes place with the body of the departed present, whereas a memorial service takes place without the actual body present. A funeral service can refer to a traditional graveside burial service, or it can refer to a funeral service conducted in a chapel when cremation is later performed. A funeral service most often is conducted within a week of the death occurring.

A Memorial Service

A memorial service generally takes place sometime after the death and disposition have occurred. It is usually a service specifically to memorialize the life of the deceased. If cremation has been performed, often a memorial service is conducted to inter or scatter the cremated remains, at the same time as the celebration of the deceased's life. A memorial service can also be held following a private funeral service. Sometimes a family will arrange a private family funeral service and then hold a memorial service later when a family who could not attend the funeral can gather. A memorial service is often held when someone had particular ties to a community as a ritual to help people pay their last respects.

What's the Difference between Memorial vs. Funeral

Whether you're currently working with a funeral director or planning on your own, you may be asking the question: what is a memorial? You'll be pleasantly surprised to find out that a memorial can be anything you want it to be! There isn't a right or wrong way to coordinate memorial services.

The most important aspect of planning a memorial service is to think about the person you are honouring. How did they live their life? Were they music lover? The class clown? Or an outdoor enthusiast? Design the event to capture their personality, creating a mood to which attendees can relate.

You'll find a few commonalities when comparing a memorial service vs. a funeral service. For example, both events have a designated place and time when you invite family and friends to get together in honour of your loved one. Consider these factors when deciding whether a memorial service or funeral is the right choice for your family:

Type of Event: While funerals tend to be a bit more formal, a memorial service can be as light-hearted or engaging as you'd like. The overall mood brings to mind thoughts of a solemn chapel, mourners dressed in black, and a stormy day. In comparison, a memorial or celebration of life focuses more on honouring the personality and joy of the person who has died.

Timing of Services: Funerals usually happen soon after the person passes. Since a funeral often coincides with the burial, it's common to plan the event within 7 to 10 days. On the other hand, a memorial service offers more flexibility. For example, you might plan memorial several weeks or months away to accommodate travel schedules.

Casket Presence: Traditionally, the casket is present at a funeral. One notable difference about a memorial is the lack of a casket during the event. Whether you choose immediate burial or cremation, a memorial offers a way to find joy in the person's life at a later date.

A memorial service is similar to a funeral service for many families – with a few notable differences as listed above. Since the ultimate goal is to create an opportunity to honour your loved one, don't feel obligated to stick to age-old traditions and religious ceremonies that no longer suit your family's needs. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.

Why Are Funerals So Expensive?

When a loved one has passed, it's easy to resent a sudden, expensive funeral bill. In a way, it's difficult to believe that, after a lifetime of bills and expenses, another is immediately due when we depart this earth. Rather than thinking about death care services as one final parting shot, it's important to understand what services are being rendered and the labour involved in a typical funeral. 

The average price of a funeral in the United States is between $7,000 and $10,000 but can easily cost more than that. Less extravagant funeral arrangements and a strict budget can also keep costs below $7,000, with the most affordable arrangement being direct cremation. 

Depending on the funeral home, the urn or casket may be included in the funeral package price; however, that's not always the case. The average casket costs between $2,000 and $5,000, but more ornate caskets can cost upward of $10,000. Hiring a musician, officiant, videographer, or other extra funeral services will also add to the final cost. 

Tips for Saving Money for a Funeral

Looking at all the costs associated with a funeral, you might be wondering how you can minimize some of those expenses. 

If you're responsible for planning and paying for a loved one's funeral, or if you're pre-planning your funeral arrangements, consider some of the money-saving tips below. 

Choose a green burial or direct burial.

Green burials are becoming ever more popular in the United States, and for a good reason: they're better for the environment, and they're cheaper. 

With a green burial, you forego the chemical treatment process and elaborate caskets. Instead, burial takes place quickly after death, and the casket is usually biodegradable or nonexistent. 

You could also choose direct burial, which is similar. With direct burial, you don't cremate the body or hold a funeral before the burial. Instead, you bury the body right away—with the casket of your choice—and hold the funeral or memorial at a later date. 

Green burial and direct burial can save you money for funeral expenses like body preparation and transportation. It can also free you up to hold a more personalized memorial service that costs much less than one held at a funeral home. 

Consider cremation 

Cremation is another cost-saving option, and it's one that many families and individuals prefer. With cremation, you have two options: traditional cremation and direct burial. 

Traditional burial can cost as much like a traditional funeral service. The only difference is that, after the funeral, the body is cremated rather than buried. 

Direct cremation, on the other hand, is more similar to direct burial. You have the body cremated before you hold a funeral ceremony, which saves money on transportation, funeral services, a casket, and body preparation. 

Personalize your memorial service

Instead of paying for a funeral service at a funeral home, you can save money by holding a funeral or memorial service yourself. 

A funeral service or memorial can occur in a local outdoor space, a community space, or at your own home. When you create a memorial service yourself, you also have more freedom to create the kind of service you want. 

Save on the casket

As mentioned, casket prices range a great deal. If you want to save money on the funeral, you can opt for a more simple casket. 

If you want a presentable casket for the funeral, you can rent one for that day only. Then, you can purchase a plain metal burial casket for the actual burial, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. 

You may also consider purchasing a biodegradable, "green" casket. Make sure you speak with your funeral director and understand your local laws regarding burial. 

Shop around 

One of the best-kept secrets in the funeral industry is that you can save a lot of money just by shopping around. A funeral home up the street might charge hundreds of dollars more for the very same services like the one a block down. 

Whether you're planning a funeral for your loved one or you're pre-planning your funeral and burial services, always make sure to check around for the best pricing. 

Don't be afraid to negotiate.

The death of a loved one is one of the most stressful situations any of us will ever encounter. Not only do we have to deal with the emotional baggage and grieving that's a normal part of losing a loved one, but we are forced to square off against a well-polished funeral home employee working toward a large sales commission.

And because most families do not want to look cheap when making funeral arrangements for a loved one, they end up paying the funeral home's "sticker price" for the goods and services they are sold.

However, because funeral home goods and services include substantial markups, there is plenty of room for educated consumers to obtain legitimate discounts. The funeral home can often cut their prices in half and still make a substantial profit off of the family's funeral.

Unfortunately, most families are reluctant and lack the necessary information to negotiate an appropriate discount on a funeral service. The key is in understanding how the funeral home's prices compare to their costs. Any funeral good or service marked up by hundreds (or thousands) of dollars is ripe for a discount.

Don't be afraid to tell the funeral director you will purchase certain funeral goods from another supplier instead of buying them from the funeral home. Because the funeral director realizes you can buy many of his goods much cheaper somewhere else, he will be ready and willing to offer a knowledgeable family a substantial discount off of his list prices to keep their business.

Choose reasonably priced goods and services.

Most families have no idea what funeral goods and services cost, nor do they know how large the funeral director's markup is on the goods and services they buy. It is common for funeral homes to mark up the cost of their goods by 300% to 500%. These markups can add thousands of dollars to the funeral home's bill.

Consumers can be richly rewarded with substantial savings by understanding which funeral goods and services are required and knowing how much those goods and services cost the funeral home. Once you know which goods and services are required – and how much they should cost – you are in a position to make appropriate choices based on your family's preferences and budget. You can consult the Funeral Saver's Kit for a detailed listing of legal requirements and prices pertaining to all funeral and cemetery goods and services.

A key to affordable funeral planning is understanding how the service you select impacts the overall price of the funeral. For example, choosing body burial as a final disposition means you will have to purchase a casket, outer burial container, cemetery space, and a headstone. This means that simply agreeing with the funeral director when he suggests a "traditional" funeral can result in thousands of dollars in additional expenses. Alternatively, choosing cremation – or a different type of funeral service - can eliminate many of these "add on" expenses. Need help in planning a funeral service? Check out Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals in Melbourne.

However, you can no longer assume a funeral will be less expensive than body burial. Over the last few years, a new trend has been emerging in the funeral industry: more families choose cremation in lieu of a full-blown funeral. In response to this trend, many funeral homes have raised prices for their cremation services to protect their profit margins.

Scroll to Top