Posted by Elisabeth Leamy, Fri Mar 18 2016, 04:52pm

By Elisabeth Leamy

By Elisabeth Leamy

A friend of a friend recently died.  And then, just as the family was dealing with the shock of the death, they got another shock: the cost of the casket.  Even amidst their grief, they passed the word to me of what they learned, in hopes of helping other families.  

“While at the funeral home looking at caskets, the father-in-law selected an  $8,000 mahogany casket,” my friend relayed to me.  For most families, that’s where the story ends: sticker shock, mixed with the feeling that they shouldn’t haggle when trying to honor their loved one.  But, this family was lucky.  Another, clearer-thinking family member pulled out her cell phone.  “She checked online and found the same casket for $2,000!”  The funeral director grudgingly agreed that it was fine for them to supply their own outside casket.  “I suppose many would not be in the state of mind to shop around, but wow what a difference!”

And it’s not just caskets.  More and more Americans are choosing cremation rather than a traditional burial, and there are huge cost differences there, as well.  The website advocates for funeral homes to post their prices online so consumers can shop and compare.  When Parting analyzed cremation prices, here’s what it found: “While there are many locations at which direct cremation, the most basic cremation service, costs less $1,000, there are are also a large number of funeral homes which offer the service for more than $4,000. There are even those that charge over $9,000 for the service.”

I know it’s hard to talk about, much less prepare for, a death.  But doing so means you can focus on the loss of your loved one rather than the loss of your money.