No one likes to talk about it, but when a loved one passes on, money is sometimes one of the first concerns, especially for families without life insurance. The average funeral in the United States costs between $7,000 and $10,000. Even in this incredibly difficult time, you can make smart choices that won't leave you with lasting financial consequences. Here are 5 ways to bring down the cost of funeral services, while maintaining all the dignity and compassion your loved one deserves.

When Able, Choose Cremation

Some religions restrict the type of final goodbyes that are available to families, and some people have strong personal preferences, but the cost comparison is clear. Cremation, and direct cremation at a place like Care Memorial Cremation Solutions in particular, is far less expensive than burial. Here's how it works.

  • Your last respects are paid at the hospital, and your loved one's remains are sent to a crematory, instead of a funeral home. This saves you the entire cost of funeral home services, which can be substantial.
  • Because there is no viewing or wake, embalming and the preparation of your loved one's body can be skipped. These services are required in many states for those families who wish to have a viewing prior to the final farewell, and can end up adding significant costs.
  • Instead of paying for an expensive casket, your loved one can be placed in a much simpler construction, including a cardboard box. The only restriction on cremation boxes is that they cannot have any metal parts.

Other Costs of Cremation to Consider

Once the cremation process is complete, there are some additional options you should consider. If cost is a concern for you, these decisions will be important.

  • Your choice of urn can be a large part of the cost of a cremation. Urns come in many shapes and sizes, and your loved one's ashes can be sent home with you in anything from a simple plastic bag to an ornate, decorative urn.
  • The decision of what to do with the ashes once they have been released to you can also affect the cost of cremation services. Cremated remains can still be buried, and cremation burial plots are smaller, and therefore less expensive than traditional plots. Alternatively, you can choose to keep the ashes, or scatter them in a meaningful location.

If Cremation is Not an Option

If personal preferences or deeply held religious beliefs prevent you from choosing cremation for your loved one, there are still ways you can reduce the cost of a funeral service. 

  • If possible, make final expense purchases before they become necessary. If your loved one is terminally ill, it can feel irreverent, but can help make final expenses more affordable if you make those purchases prior to their passing. 
  • Understand that compromising on flashy accouterments doesn't mean you're being disrespectful. A simple casket has its own beauty and elegance.
  • Graveside services are typically less expensive, and require less fanfare than funeral processions. 
  • Headstones can be beautiful monuments to your loved one, but none of them last forever. Don't think purchasing a simple headstone is not an appropriate and loving way to send your loved one into the next life.

This is a difficult subject, and a difficult time in your life. Enduring the processes of loss and grief doesn't have to result with you weighing yourself down with crippling debt. Your loved one would, no doubt, prefer a beautiful, simple sendoff that leaves you comforted with fond memories, and financially stable. Take the time to consider all your options, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Using your head and your hear together, you will make arrangements that would do your dearly departed proud, and soothe your friends and family through this challenging time.