BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The business of death is booming and the cost of dying is high. And in the midst of grief, some people make choices without full information just to move on.
But one North Carolina non-profit, is working to make the process more transparent. The Funeral Consumers Alliance North Carolina released its first funeral price survey for funeral homes statewide.
The data, compiling the costs for basic services, cremations, and burials for more than 700 funeral homes. President Sara Williams says knowing your rights as a consumer is crucial, especially when you're dealing with grief and the stress of the pandemic.
“You have the right to get price quotes over the phone, which means you could call the abc funeral home and ask what do you charge for a direct cremation. By law, they have to give you that information. And you have the right to use your own casket," Williams says.
Williams says the Federal Trade Commission may soon require all funeral homes to post price lists on their websites. Currently, the only legislation is the funeral rule of 1984 to protect consumers' rights and access to information.
Lowe Funeral Home in Burlington has been posting its prices online for more than 10 years. It offers packages from $3,000 to $5,000 including burial and cremation. Merchandise like caskets, however, cost extra.
Prices start at close to $1,000 and can be as high as $10,000 depending on the type. That doesn’t include the vault or outer burial container, which keeps the earth from crushing the casket. Those can be around $1,000 or as high as $11,000.
“Some people with their religious beliefs think the body is just how we knew that person, recognize that person. There’s other people that have well, they can’t think of the idea of having water around that casket," says Jay Roberts. He is the funeral director at Lowe Funeral Home.
Perhaps you’re looking for an urn instead.
“The urns are generally cheaper because it’s much less to deal with, much less to do while caskets have to be made, painted, and then the interior installed," says Roberts.
Roberts believes there's no right or wrong choices only preferences.
“Eventually, in time, we will go back to dirt as earth as our natural element, what we were started from... from the very beginning," says Roberts.
His job is giving people the resources to heal and to celebrate a loved one's life.
“We can’t make everything right. We can’t make everything perfect. We just try to help them to get through each day to the next day so they can face it and move forward with their lives," says Roberts.
If you don't have money for funeral arrangements, Roberts says a direct cremation is your only option. At Lowe, that costs a little over $2,000. But some places can go as low as $600.
Roberts says some caskets can cost between $25,000 to $30,000. They are usually walnut, mahogany, and have bronze or a 24-caret gold plate.