Without a doubt, buying funeral products can be the most challenging aspect of planning a funeral. Not only do you need to decide what products you need, but you have to determine the best way to buy them. You want to shop wisely but you also want to choose products that will appropriately honor your loved one. Frankly, it can be hard. There are so many choices, your time may be limited, and you may have limited resources.
Your best strategy when it comes to buying funeral products is to slow down and take a deep breath. Do a little homework and remember to give yourself a break. It doesn’t matter whether you are selecting products because a death has already occurred or you are planning ahead, buying funeral products can be emotional.
Keep the following tips in mind and don’t be hard on yourself. There is no “right” way to go about it but there are things you can do to make it a bit easier.
Buying Funeral Products: Tips and Strategies
- Set a budget: As hard as it is to think about limiting your spending at such an emotional time, you don’t have to put yourself in financial peril. There are many beautiful options that are reasonably priced. The difficult part is avoiding buying funeral products based on emotion. Knowing exactly how much you can comfortably spend can help.
- Ask for prices: By law, funeral service providers are required to give you a price list for the products they are selling. You are also entitled to see the full range of products, not just the most expensive. The person you are working with will likely show you the most extravagant items first. To learn more about your rights read our article on the FTC’s Funeral Rule, a consumer protection regulation by the Federal Trade Commission.
- Get help: Take someone you trust with you when you shop. It can help to have someone to talk it over with and you can compare notes.
- Shop around: If you are working with a funeral home they will present you with lots of great options. It may make sense to purchase everything through the provider but you need to remember that you don’t have to buy your funeral products through the funeral home or cemetery that is handling the funeral services. Use the same shopping techniques for buying funeral products that you would use for any major purchase.
- Take your time: While you may be working toward a specific date for services, it can be helpful to take the process slowly. If you feel pressure to make a snap decision, step out and take a few minutes to collect your thoughts. The goal is to avoid making decisions based on emotion or items that you don’t really need.
- Shop in advance: It’s not always possible to shop ahead of time but if you can it will almost always save you money. Having extra time can make the process must less stressful and allow you the luxury of comparison shopping.
Funeral-related products and memorials fulfill practical and symbolic roles. For example, the practical role of the casket and cremation urn is to provide a container for human remains — which means consumers are often concerned about quality of manufacturing and durability. The same goes for grave markers which are intended to last for decades.
The value of these items goes beyond their functional purposes. Symbolically, the style and beauty of a funeral-related product may represent the family’s feelings for the deceased. Therefore, the aesthetic qualities of these items (i.e., their visual appeal) are important considerations. Caskets, urns and grave markers may be personalized to reflect the individuality of the deceased. Keepsakes enable the sharing of ashes and personal items among family members.
There is much emotion associated with these purchases and thousands of products to choose from, making it a daunting task to purchase the right items to memorialize your loved one. Here you’ll find in-depth information on qualities, features and costs to help you make wise decisions when buying funeral-related products and memorial items.
Your options for buying funeral products and memorial items include:
If the body will be buried, you will need to choose a casket. There are many types of caskets to accommodate varied tastes, sizes and budgets. They can be made of metals, woods, and fiberglass. The casket’s interior fabric can be of varied materials, colors and designs. If you choose cremation as the final disposition you may choose to purchase a casket specially designed for this purpose. To learn more about your choices when it comes to caskets visit our Shopping for a Casket page.
When cremation is the choice for final arrangements, an urn is needed to hold the ashes. Even if the family plans to scatter the ashes, a container will be needed to hold the ashes until the scattering takes place. Urns are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They can be made of marble, wood or metals such as bronze or steel. They can be personalized with engravings, military medallions, and emblems. To learn more about your options for cremation urns, key considerations, and how to determine what size urn you’ll need, visit our page on cremation urns.
See a selection of urns recommended by Funeralwise.
Most cemeteries require an outer burial container (i.e., burial vault) to place the casket in for burial. Their primary purpose is to support the soil. The minimum requirement is usually a concrete box. Burial vaults are more sophisticated enclosures that may be made of concrete and lined with plastic or metal. When the body will be entombed in a mausoleum, the cemetery does not require any container beyond the casket. If you have chosen cremation and the urn will be buried, your cemetery may require a vault for the urn. To learn more about why a burial vault may be required and what features you need to look for, visit our page on burial vaults.
Grave markers can be made of stone such as granite or marble or metals, such as bronze. Memorials lie flush with the ground. Monuments sit upright and vary in size. Before purchasing a grave marker find out about your cemetery’s rules and regulations governing marker placement and type. You can learn more about where to buy grave markers, the various options available, and how to comply with cemetery regulations by visiting our page on grave memorials and monuments.
When it comes to memorial items, your options are limited only by your imagination. From memorial jewelry to artwork, there is truly something for everyone. In addition to items that can help you capture your memories of your loved ones, you can also choose products that can be shared at funeral and memorial services so that everyone attending will have something to remember the deceased by. For more information on some of the most popular types of keepsakes and mementos visit our page on memorial items. We also have a large selection of memorial keepsakes that we recommend in our store.