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How Much Does A Cremation Cost?

December 14, 2020
More and more Canadians are opting for cremation as a more cost-effective and eco-friendly burial option.
Written By Anita ChauhanDecember 14, 2020

Cremations have steadily become one of the more popular end-of-life options for Canadians in the past few years. Due to the 2020 pandemic, the country saw a spike in people choosing cremation as their arrangement of choice.

According to the Cremation Association of North America, the Canadian cremation rate grew from 48% in 2000 to 72% in 2018. This number is set to grow in the next few years, as many Millennials turn to cremation over other options.

The myriad of funeral options

Cremation, burial, alkaline hydrolysis? There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution that meets your unique funeral needs. With changing times and attitudes, your choice of a burial or a funeral is no longer seen as equal to how much you have loved or respected your deceased. Now, more than ever, you have more choices and options to help you celebrate your loved one.

Many things need to be accounted for when making end-of-life decisions, and the overall costs will vary depending on the individual’s needs, wants, and choices. For those who are planning their end-of-life arrangements or have to manage a loved one’s final wishes, it can be tough to know where to start. In many cases, it could come down to one thing: cost. Read on to discover the benefits of cremation and how much direct cremation costs in Canada.

Cremations offer more choice and flexibility

Thanks to its flexibility, affordability, and simplicity, cremation is an attractive choice for many families. Traditional burials tend to happen quickly, within about a week, but cremation gives grieving families more time to gather, weigh their options, and decide what to do with their loved one’s remains.

For many, choosing cremation can also offer a non-religious end-of-life option. In the past few years, Canadians have become increasingly more secular, and according to the 2011 National Household Survey, 24% of Canadians said they had no religious affiliation. This number is up from 17% in 2001.

Cremation is the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly option

People have the flexibility to choose where and how to memorialize their family member’s remains. From the choice of urn to scattering ashes in a favourite spot, cremations can provide more personalization and individualization tailored to a loved one. Cremation provides you with the ability and flexibility to not be rooted in one place but still allows you to respectfully honour and remember your loved ones.

Funeral plots are another important consideration when deciding on cremation versus traditional burial. Burial space is limited these days and land comes at a premium, especially in larger cities across Canada.

First off, let’s clarify the difference between cremation and direct cremation and why one is a better option over the other.

Cremation versus direct cremation

The main difference between traditional cremation and direct cremation is the timeline between the death itself and the cremation process. For a traditional cremation, there would first be a funeral and other pre-cremation events. Whereas, for direct cremation, the deceased is taken directly from the hospital or morgue to the crematorium with little to no pre-cremation events. Removing a lot of the intermediary steps comes with many benefits.

Benefits of a direct cremation

With direct cremations, you save considerable cost by cutting out the ceremonial and memorial services. Your loved one is cremated shortly after passing, without embalming, viewing, or visitation. This is the most cost-effective cremation option and is available throughout Canada.

Traditional funeral costs vs cremation costs

While both cremations and funeral services can come with a large price tag, a cremation can be the simplest and most cost-efficient way to manage your end-of-life arrangements.

The cost of a traditional funeral

Cremations cost around a quarter of the cost of a traditional burial. This cost stays the same, even when working with a funeral home. Research from the InMemory database suggests that, on average, a traditional funeral and burial in Canada can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000. This price also includes funeral home mark-ups and memorial service add-ons.

Burials can be a more expensive option since you require many things: a grave, coffin, and some type of memorialization (a headstone or a plaque).

The cost of a direct cremation

Cremation is a cheaper option because there are fewer services and products to buy. A simple, respectful, cremation can cost between $500-600. For a direct cremation, you don’t need to purchases a casket or pay for embalming or a plot.

Planning for burial costs

When planning with a funeral home, make sure that the cremation cost has been built into your funeral package’s total cost. Sometimes the cost of a cremation service does not include the actual cremation – do your due diligence where possible and make sure to ask your trusted funeral homes for a price list.

Location, location, location…

Location is another consideration when it comes to costs for crematory services. Your overall cremation cost can vary depending on the province or city, so check with your local funeral home or service provider.

To casket or not to casket?

When planning a funeral or burial, one of the higher costs to consider is the casket. These can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. It all depends on the materials used: wood, steel, copper, or bronze, with bronze being the most costly. The average casket purchase can come out to around $2,500 to $3,000.

Cut the casket costs with a cremation

When you are planning a cremation, a casket is not required, thus lowering your costs significantly. Crematoriums only require that your loved one’s body be enclosed in a rigid container of combustible material. As long as you choose a “combustible” container without any metal, you are good to go. This container can even be a simple, wooden box that houses the body. Your overall crematory cost can be lowered when choosing to use a more straightforward option over a casket.

After the cremation

Once your loved one is cremated, their remains can be housed in an urn or scattered in a pre-defined place, according to their wishes.

If you opt to keep the cremated remains in an urn, you have to be aware of the costs. Some urns can cost upwards of 200 dollars. Your crematory costs will likely include a temporary cardboard urn the is used to return the ashes to you following the cremation.

The cost of urns

Funeral homes sell permanent urns at wildly varying prices–from as little as $100 to upwards of $2000–but there is no requirement to buy an urn from them. You can find affordable, Canadian made urns online. You’ll be surprised by the sheer number of options available from glass to bronze to biodegradable, depending on your preference and the wishes of the deceased.

Most importantly: Make sure the choice is your own

While your costs vary depending on what you individually want, ultimately, end of life arrangements are costly and usually are more than many of us plan for.

While any burial or cremation costs may seem daunting, one thing remains true: you can choose something that can save you time, effort, and headache by opting for direct cremation.

Whatever your choice may be, remember that taking the time to preplan and set your wishes by making a Will and completing a funeral and burial wishes document can help save you and your loved ones stress during an already difficult time. And ultimately, it’s best for the choice to be yours rather than someone else’s.

Written By Anita Chauhan
Anita Chauhan is the Head of Marketing for Eirene, a startup dedicated to making end-of-life and cremation easier to navigate, transparent, and more affordable for Canadians. Check out more resources on navigating the end of life here.