Cremation Costs

Cremation Costs Vary Significantly

By now you have no doubt come to realize that cremation costs vary greatly from provider to provider. This variance is significant and can have an extremely important impact on the direction you choose to go in selecting your cremation provider. You should consider a number of factors in making this selection, and price is certainly one of them. Only you can determine what is important to you and your family when making this decision.

Cremation Cost Ranges

Direct Cremation (Direct Cremation implies that there will be no embalming, visitation, or funeral with the body present – the body will be taken directly to the crematory - if there is to be a memorial service or celebration of life, the funeral or cremation provider will not be involved – some providers may allow a small viewing prior to the cremation but there may be additional charges).

Direct Cremation Price Range in Oregon
Just under $700 to over $3,000

Direct Cremation with Memorial Service (The direct cremation guidelines are the same as above, only the provider would assist with a memorial service or celebration of life service which may or may not be held in their facility).

Direct Cremation with Memorial Service Price Range in Oregon
Just under $900 to over $5,000

Traditional Funeral followed by Cremation (This type of service usually includes embalming, viewing, a funeral in a church or funeral home, and cremation after the funeral – some providers would suggest a “rental casket” and others would expect you to purchase a “cremation casket” for the funeral which may or may not be cremated)

Traditional Funeral followed by Cremation Price Range in Oregon
Just under $2,600 to over $8,000

The reasons why some providers charge so much more:

  • Third-Party Crematory Ownership – Although not the only factor, the crematory ownership can have a significant impact of the cremation cost to the consumer because the crematory owner sets the cremation price. In Oregon, cremation facilities are licensed as “Crematories” by the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board.  They may, or may not, have a direct connection to the Funeral Service Establishment that works with the consumer to arrange the cremation. They are always licensed separately by the Board whether there is a direct connection (such as mutual ownership) or not. Many funeral service establishments do not own the cremation facility or have a direct relationship to it. Many outsource this portion of their business to a third party. There are several “third party cremation businesses” in Oregon that only perform cremation services to licensed funeral establishments – they are in effect, sub-contractors. Simple economics would tell one that these businesses need to make a profit, in addition to the profit required by the funeral establishment. Therefore, generally speaking, funeral establishments that outsource cremation services to a third party will charge the consumer more for the final product of cremation. The irony here is that these same establishments, that charge the consumer more for cremation, may never have your loved one’s remains in their care or custody at any time. However, please note that this is NOT the only variable in the consumer’s overall cost of cremation services. Also, not all providers that own the crematory as well as the funeral establishment, pass any of that savings, derived from efficiencies, on to the consumer. That is why it is so important for the consumers to take their time, do some research and make an informed decision.
  • Outsourced Transportation – As discussed earlier regarding the outsourcing of cremation services to third party contractors, the same can hold true for transportation services. In fact, many funeral establishment operators in Oregon hire third party transportation services for their transportation needs. Once again, simple economics would tell one that both companies need a profit to survive.
  • Funeral Establishment Ownership
    • Large, out-of-state corporation ownership - Oregon has an unusually high percentage of funeral establishments which are owned by large corporations. When this occurs, the establishment’s policies and procedures, as well as their prices, are generally dictated by the large corporation’s senior management from somewhere other than Oregon. Oregon, and the Northwest in general, are very non-traditional and a cremation consumer’s needs here in Oregon may be significantly different than the needs of a cremation consumer in another state, such as Texas or Louisiana. Keep in mind that the local directors and staff of these establishments are usually caring and helpful Oregon residents. However, their procedures and prices are mandated from someone in another state that is most likely out of touch with the cremation consumer’s needs in Oregon. Note that the same out-of-state corporation may also own the crematory – and set the cremation price for that company.
    • High-Priced Local Ownership – For various reasons, some locally owned funeral establishments charge unusually high prices. We will list several reasons why this may occur:
      • Sometimes this is because they have unusually elaborate facilities that cost considerably more to own and maintain. In this case, you must determine whether or not you need that expensive facility.
      • Sometimes this is because the owners insist on charging “what the traffic will bear”, meaning they will charge as much as they can get by with, as long as cremation consumer continues to use their services.
      • Sometimes, they may simply have so little business volume that they must charge a high price just to stay in business. This could be the case in rural communities that are a good distance from an area of larger population. Or, it could be that their business volume is low because their prices are so high. As a cremation consumer in Oregon, you must decide if you are willing to support them by paying these high costs – to some, there may be value in supporting a business in which they are comfortable or familiar. We will not discredit that choice.
    • Extreme Marketing– There are a few cremation providers in Oregon that are well known national chains that succeed by purchasing huge volumes of marketing in an attempt to make the consumer believe they are “economical, efficient or even green” or they make insinuations that they are “cremation specialists”. Yet, they charge the consumer several times the going rate for cremation services, send some of that money to shareholders and spend the rest on more marketing. Don’t be fooled by this business model – they are generally anything but “economical” and they know nothing more about cremation than other providers. Just because they solicit you with social media, mailings or telemarketers, does not necessarily make them reliable, efficient, or an expert in any way. You may consider these businesses as the least consumer friendly model because they simply offer less service for more dollars and generally outsource everything.

The reasons why some providers charge so much less:

The reverse of all the information listed in the previous section regarding crematory ownership, transportation, the ownership of funeral establishments and marketing will generally hold true.

  • Crematory Ownership – Although funeral establishments and crematories are always licensed independently, they may have the same owners. In many cases this creates a more efficient operation and the owners may derive a savings simply by not outsourcing the cremation services. In turn, some of these owners, but certainly not all, are willing to pass savings on to the cremation consumer.
  • Independent Transportation – Many operators that perform their own transportation services (i.e. transportation from place of death to the funeral establishment and/or crematory) are able to realize a savings because of efficiencies. Some will pass savings on to the consumer – others will not.
  • Funeral Establishment Ownership
    • Lower Priced Local Ownership – For various reasons, some locally owned funeral establishments charge considerably lower prices. We will list several reasons why this may occur:
    • Sometimes this is because they have more conservative facilities. Some businesses operate out of professional office type settings which lowers their overall cost to operate.
    • Sometimes this is because the owners insist on providing the necessary services at an affordable price. By keeping their costs lower, they may be willing to pass some of that savings on to the cremation consumer.
    • Sometimes, they may have a higher volume of business levels, making their operation more efficient. A larger volume operation may realize greater savings in transportation and cremation costs and perhaps that savings is shared with the consumer.
  • Efficient Marketing – Some operations are considerably more efficient with their marketing plans than others, and, once again that savings may be shared with the consumer.

About Cremation Caskets

Not all cremation consumers want to limit their options for memorials and funerals simply by choosing cremation.  Many prefer a traditional church funeral followed by cremation and others need the viewing time as part of their way to manage their grief.  Viewing the body may allow the family and friends time to pay their respects and say goodbye and, in some instances, may be preferred religiously.

Certainly, there are many reasons that you may wish to have your loved one’s body prepared for viewing and placed in something presentable and respectful for a viewing and/or a funeral prior to cremation.

A Sensible Solution

Most cremation providers have access to what is commonly known as a rental casket.  The term,“rental casket” is a bit of a misnomer in the fact that you are actually renting the wooden outer casket shell only.  You are purchasing the interior (insert) of the unit which is a corrugated cardboard liner intended to be cremated after it is removed from the outer wooden shell.  Some providers will call this combination a viewing casket, chapel casket or any one of a number of names, but it is most likely the same concept as we have described here.

A Nonsense Solution

Many years ago the casket manufacturers introduced new lines of caskets made specifically for cremation.  They were made of many types of materials, including natural hardwood as well as engineered woods and composite woods.

All of this was done for two reasons to help the casket manufacturers and the funeral homes regain some of their dwindling profits resulting from more consumers choosing cremation and not purchasing the burial caskets to the extent they had previously

Although cremation caskets are still manufactured, distributed and sold by many funeral homes, the concept has struggled. The cremation consumer simply doesn’t understand or accept the concept of purchasing a cremation casket and then cremating it within hours.  After all, most people choose cremation for its simplicity and lower cost.