How Much Does the Average Funeral Cost in 2020?

Making end-of-life arrangements is a difficult and emotional task. There are many decisions, and the expenses are often unexpected.

Whether you're planning a traditional church service followed by a graveside ceremony, a simple cremation without a service, or an uplifting celebration of life with decor, live music, catering and more, we want to help you understand the costs involved in funeral, cremation and memorial services in 2020.

In this article you will learn:

The best way to understand the price of the funeral or memorial you prefer is to work with a funeral planning professional, but our pricing guide will get you started. Download our pricing guide now.

How much does the average funeral cost in 2020?

According to a 2019 report by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the national median cost of a traditional funeral with a viewing is $7,640.


That cost includes:

  • recovery of the loved one from home, hospital or hospice and into the funeral home’s care at any time, on any day
  • transportation of the loved one to the funeral home
  • embalming, hair and makeup
  • a metal casket
  • the time of a funeral director and other staff to plan and manage a viewing and memorial service
  • use of the funeral home’s chapels, family rooms, visitation rooms, outdoor spaces and reception areas
  • completing all paperwork and securing necessary permits
  • basic printed materials, such as a funeral program and registry book
  • use of a hearse
  • coordination of clergy or celebrants
  • coordination and placement of funeral flowers and/or charity donations
  • coordination of an online or newspaper obituary

That cost does not include cemetery property or burial charges. Average price varies by state and may not include certain items per state regulations.

How much does a cremation funeral cost?

According to the same NFDA report, the national median cost of an adult cremation funeral with a visitation is $5,150.


That cost includes:

  • recovery of the loved one from home, hospital or hospice and into the funeral home’s care at any time, on any day
  • embalming, hair and makeup for the visitation
  • the time of a funeral director and other staff to plan and manage a viewing and memorial service
  • use of the funeral home’s chapels, family rooms, visitation rooms, outdoor spaces and reception areas
  • obtaining death certificates and securing necessary permits
  • basic printed materials, such as a memorial program and registry book
  • the fee for conducting the cremation
  • coordination of clergy or celebrants
  • coordination and placement of funeral flowers and/or charity donations
  • coordination of an online or newspaper obituary

That cost does not include a casket or container that will be used during the cremation or a container to return the ashes to the family. Though some families chose to bring their own containers, buying cremation containers from the funeral provider brings the median cost of a cremation funeral to $6,650.

What questions should I ask when comparing funeral or cremation prices?

Not all funeral and cremation providers are the same. When honoring someone's life and conducting their final disposition, there are no do-overs or second chances. Every detail matters.

Here are the 10 most important questions to ask when price shopping for a funeral or cremation, in advance or at the time of need.

  1. What is the funeral provider's online reputation on sites like Google and Facebook? Do they provide compassionate care every time?
  2. Do they offer a service guarantee?
  3. Are the funeral arrangers trained at offering event planning services, with personalized touches customized to the individuals they serve? Do they have experience carrying out the specific traditions you desire? Or do they do the same generic funeral for each person?
  4. Are the spaces comfortable and inviting? Are outdoor spaces, dining or reception areas available for use of the family? When was the last renovation?
  5. Can the funeral provider coordinate a catered reception before or after the service at their location or elsewhere?
  6. How soon can they conduct a cremation?
  7. Do they offer personalized stationery, media or mementos, like programs, prayer cards, guest books, slideshows, videos and favors?
  8. Do they offer livestreamed funeral services for people who can't attend in person?
  9. What is the quality of their online obituary and website? Do they prepare the biography on your behalf? Is it easy to upload photos with the obituary? Can the site collect photos and memories from attendees for you to keep?
  10. Do they offer grief support from mental health professionals to help you well after the service is over?

Ultimately, your funeral provider should listen to what you want and work with you to fulfill your or your loved one's final wishes, with the highest level of service and a proven track record of excellent customer satisfaction.

Why do funerals cost so much?

Almost like a wedding, a funeral requires a great deal of effort to organize—but it often happens in a very short amount of time. It's no small feat to bring a large group of people together to remember and celebrate. Few would attempt to plan a wedding in less than a week, but the very things that go into wedding planning are all part of funeral planning.

From announcements, flowers, catering, music, transportation, venues, speeches, videos and event planning—not to mention completing paperwork for death certificates and obtaining permits for transportation, burial or cremation—there can be many costs involved in a funeral.

There’s a lot of value in being able to coordinate all those parts while comforting a family who is experiencing one of the worst times of life. In fact, when it's done well, with attention to detail and in a manner that seems effortless, our families tell us it's priceless.

What our families tell us

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“The complete care and compassion offered by each staff person is truly comforting during such painful times. Their guidance, patience, and understanding is priceless. They thorough and sincerely care for you, your family, and your loved one.

—Lelani W., Mobile, AL

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“The staff was so helpful and kind. Their compassion during one's bereavement time is priceless. In addition the staff is experienced to handle family tension during a difficult time. If you are looking to lay your love one to rest with love, professionalism, class, and peace, then make your appointment today.

—Bronica M., San Bernardino, CA

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“There is nothing easy about losing a loved one no matter the circumstance. Your heart is broken and your soul weeps for the loss BUT knowing that there are people that will handle the whole process of celebrating a life with the utmost professionalism, sensitivity, and respect is absolutely priceless.

—Nadine T., Sugar Land, TX

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“I was absolutely at a loss when my mom died, but from the beginning to the end each and every member of the staff made my entire experience completely wonderful and that's not easy to say during such a sad time and when you have a company with a group of people that honestly care about what you're going through and actually help you as if they were your family it's simply priceless.... thank you all dearly!

—Towanna J., Fort Wayne, IN

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“The director was amazing and went above and beyond in ensuring that my father had full military honors. I was extremely impressed with the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the staff. The service, flowers, and overall accessibility to whatever we needed when we needed it was priceless. The customer service was outstanding even though we asked a thousand questions, with each being answered timely and with patience and care. I would recommend this place 1000%.

—Mary W., Austin, TX


What affects funeral and cremation costs?

Funeral or memorial services are deeply personal, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much they cost. For every unforgettable event, there’s a plan with unrelenting attention to detail, and funeral expenses vary depending on preferences and needs.

Some of the misinformation surrounding funeral costs can be explained by incomplete survey data. There is no single source for understanding the complexity of funeral costs in the U.S. and Canada.

And many of the reports consumers depend on to make informed decisions mix full-service providers with low-cost providers that have no public-facing facility and rely on third parties for things like transportation and the preparation of loved ones.

Traditional funeral costs

When religious or cultural traditions are of the utmost importance, a traditional funeral that emphasizes certain customs is the choice for many families.

Often visitation precedes the funeral service, and the loved one is placed in a cemetery after the service. The funeral most often occurs at a place of worship or a funeral home, and sometimes includes a graveside service.

Key expenses include preparation of the loved one, a casket, use of the funeral home for visitation and possibly the service or reception, planning by the funeral director, a casket and catering if desired. Members of some cultures conduct overnight visitations, ritual washing of the body or other special needs, and those services may cost more. 

The national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial in 2019 was $7,640.


Celebration of life costs

A celebration of life is a modern tradition focusing on uplifting family and guests and remembering the loved one with a variety of personal touches.

In addition to places of worship and funeral homes, venues include outdoor areas, hotels, restaurants and clubs. Gatherings are often large and involve favorite food and drinks, themed decor, live or recorded music, and even favors for guests. Many of the primary expenses are similar to traditional funerals, though a celebrant may lead the ceremony instead of a clergy member. Personal touches like decorations, musicians, specially designed floral arrangements and the rental of a special venue can counterbalance the savings on costs like transportation and visitation.

All that said, a celebration of life does not have to be an elaborate party. An intimate gathering of family and friends at your home or the funeral home is absolutely wonderful and can cost very little.

A celebration of life can cost thousands or nothing at all.


A group of men sitting around and visiting at a celebration tailgate.
Motorcycle or biker riding into chapel for memorial service with sidecar containing portrait and urn.

Cremation costs

Those who choose cremation may do so because it's often a less expensive option, though that's not the only reason.

The least expensive cremation is called a direct cremation on general price lists (GPLs); it takes place soon after death and does not include a witness or a memorial service. Cremated remains are returned to the family in an inexpensive plastic container, or the family can provide their own.

However, a cremation can include any of the personalizations or traditional rites associated with a funeral or celebration of life, including:

  • visitation, which in most cases embalming is recommended
  • memorial services before or after the cremation, sometimes with food
  • burial, inurnment, aboveground placement or scattering at a cemetery

All of those elements add to the expense. Some crematories offer witness cremations, which some cultures prefer, and those may carry additional charges.

The national median cost of an adult cremation with a viewing and memorial in 2019 was $5,150.


Other costs to consider

  • Clergy member or funeral celebrant. Often a pastor, priest or other religious affiliate will conduct a funeral service. However, even families who enlist a member of the clergy to lead the service may also want to use a funeral celebrant specially trained to help a family incorporate personal details into every aspect of a memorial. The services of clergy members and funeral celebrants typically run a few hundred dollars.
  • An alternative location. Many funeral homes have a chapel or other dedicated space in which to hold a funeral or memorial service. Some have gardens, courtyards, backyards or other natural outdoor areas for funerals and memorials. However, some people prefer a church or temple setting; others might rather a restaurant, country club, banquet hall or other venue. A celebration of life may also be held in a friend's or family member’s backyard, on the beach or in a park (with a permit, of course). Venue costs can be a little or a lot. Though a friend’s yard is free, a hotel ballroom is not.
  • Catering. Food after a funeral is a longstanding tradition for many cultures. Some funeral providers arrange catering services and have dedicated spaces for receptions, which can include anything from refreshing beverages and snacks to a formal seated dinner. Food during a visitation can be not only a convenience but a comfort that encourages guests to spend time together. Catering costs depend on the type of food, number of guests and serving preference.
  • Musicians. Whether a single musician, such as a harp player for the chapel or a bagpiper for graveside, or an entire band for a catered reception, musicians make an impact at a funeral or memorial. Prices start in the hundreds and can range into the thousands.
  • Personal touches. Flowers, keepsakes and gestures like a release of butterflies, balloons or doves are often part of a service. Those things add to the funeral cost, but incorporating unique touches doesn’t have to cost a thing. Asking guests to wear a loved one’s favorite color or a piece of clothing that represents a sports team or a passion for hats, for example, can set a tone and is free. So is having friends and family speak from the heart.
  • Caskets and urns. The cost of a traditional casket varies widely. You can pay a few hundred dollars for a cardboard container used during cremation or many thousands for a high-quality metal or handcrafted wood casket with personal touches. Cremation urns come in many shapes and sizes. Urn prices reflect size, material and design.
  • Printed materials. Funeral programs and register books are commonplace. Keepsake bookmarks and personalized stationery are other options. Printing contributes to the cost of a funeral.
  • An obituary. A newspaper may charge to run an obituary, but an online obituary is a free service. A funeral home associate can even help you create one if you don’t know what to write.
  • Flowers. Flowers are part of the typical funeral cost. The kinds of flowers and the types and sizes of arrangements inform the total price, which can run from several hundred dollars into the thousands.
  • Funeral keepsakes. Movies, slideshows, portraits, blankets, mini cremation urns and more make heartfelt keepsakes for family members. Funeral favors, such as personalized golf balls, key rings or boxes of cookies made from a special recipe, are a modern-day way to celebrate life. These items can add to the cost of a funeral, but they don’t have to. Some families opt to divide up a loved one’s collection among family and friends—and that can be the most meaningful remembrance of all.
  • Jewelry. Cremation jewelry and other charms of remembrance are lasting ways to keep the memory of a loved one near. They can also be passed down for generations. These types of keepsakes can be inexpensive or costly, depending on your choice.

Why are low-cost cremation providers so cheap?

Some low-cost providers are able to charge less because they don't own their own crematory or handle embalming themselves. They may rely on contractors for transportation of your loved one, or just meet the bare minimum requirements for custody of care through the cremation process.

Their services are limited to simple cremations, and they may turn families away when they are in need of additional help or services. Often, they don't have a deeply rooted history in the community they serve, and it takes just a quick glance at their online reputation to tell you that compassionate care isn't their top priority.

Important questions to ask when choosing a low-cost cremation provider:

  1. How will my loved one be cared for and by whom?
  2. What is the process? When and where will each step be performed?
  3. How long will the process take? (Some providers can take a month or more.)
  4. What do your customers say about you? (Check the firm's online reputation on Google or Facebook.)
  5. Do you have a service guarantee? How will you make things right if they go wrong?
  6. What are the hidden fees? Is the price advertised the all-in cost or are there additional charges?

What is the average cost of a funeral in the U.S. by region?

The cost of a funeral or cremation is influenced by where it takes place. As with real estate, automobiles, food and pretty much everything else, how much you pay for goods and services varies according to where you are.

A funeral and burial in Montgomery, Alabama, will cost far less than the same services in Los Angeles. A cremation in New York City will cost more than a cremation in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Following are regional prices, according to the NFDA.

Median costs for funerals by region


west north central region map

West North Central

IA, MN, KS, MO, ND, SD, NE
$8,123

east north central region map

East North Central

IL, IN, MI, OH, WI
$7,855

middle atlantic region map

Middle Atlantic

NJ, NY, PA
$7,849

new england region map

New England

CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
$7,612

south atlantic region map

South Atlantic

DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, WV, VA
$7,461

east south central region map

East South Central

AL, KY, MS, TNA
$7,353/p>

mountain region map

Pacific*

AK, CA, HI, OR, WA
$4,808

*Pacific region has a small sample size and may not fully reflect regional medians.

west south central region map

West South Central

AR, LA, OK, TX
$6,933

mountain region map

Mountain

AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY
$6,907

*Pacific region has a small sample size and may not fully reflect regional medians.


Median costs for cremations by region


west north central region map

West North Central

IA, MN, KS, MO, ND, SD, NE
$5,673

mountain region map

New England

CN, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
$5,447

middle atlantic region map

Middle Atlantic

NJ, NY, PA
$5,364

east north central region map

East North Central

IL, ID, MI, OH, WI
$5,305

south atlantic region map

South Atlantic

DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, WV, VA
$5,021

east south central region map

East South Central

AL, KY, MS, TN
$4,928

mountain region map

Pacific*

AK, CA, HI, OR, WA
$4,808

*Pacific region has a small sample size and may not fully reflect regional medians.

*Pacific region has a small sample size and may not fully reflect regional medians.

What is the average cost of a funeral in Canada?

As in the United States, Canadian funeral costs vary widely.

Funeral costs in Canada can be as low as $1,500 or as high as $20,000, with the average around $8,500. (Canadian dollars)


Why do prices vary so much among funeral homes?

Comparing funeral home prices can be frustrating, and getting an apples-to-apples comparison is often impossible. What's more, the single biggest factor impacting price is intangible.

You can expect to pay more for the peace of mind that comes with choosing a funeral home with a long-standing reputation for quality and care. Knowing who is caring for your loved one and where and how they are doing that is important. Being able to trust that every little detail will be taken care of and feeling proud about how you are honoring your loved one does not have a price tag.

Get exact prices and start planning today

Amounts quoted in this article are according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Costs will always vary by provider. Visit with a planning advisor at a Dignity Memorial® location near you to get exact pricing for the type of service you have in mind.