Funeral costs can vary greatly according to your personal, family, cultural, and religious needs. This time more than any other is when each person has to do what is going to meet the needs of the family in the long term. My only role here is to tell what costs the least in money. That is direct cremation and scattering.
Cliff’s cremation actually cost nothing at all. He donated his body to scientific research (not to a medical school). After a month, I received the cremains back in a very nice heart shaped box. We could have buried the ashes in that, had we wished. We scattered his ashes on the beach, as he wanted.
I used to believe the VA would pay for a veteran’s final expenses. I recently learned that they only contribute $300 to the funeral or cremation part. What they provide free is burial space and a headstone. In my county, if any person dies without assets and the family also can’t pay, the county will provide a cremation.
When I handled my mother’s final arrangements in 1999, I followed her wish that her body be cremated. At the funeral home, I saw a big display of very expensive urns for ashes. I wasn’t buying an urn. My mother’s ashes were buried in the plot waiting for her in the cemetery in her family’s hometown. (My great-grandfather bought a whole subdivision in there.) So the box they came back from the crematorium in was fine. But I remember thinking I could go to a craft fair or shop and get a lovely handmade vase or jar, much more in tune with my mother’s personality, for a fraction of that cost.