A direct burial occurs when the deceased person’s body is buried without any formal viewing or funeral services. Direct burial is simple, expedient, and typically does not require embalming, which makes it an affordable burial option for many families.
Even though a direct burial doesn’t come with formal services like a graveside ceremony or a memorial celebration, it is still conducted in a professional manner by the funeral home. Direct burial is a popular choice for families who cannot pay the cost of a traditional funeral but still want to honor their loved ones with a final goodbye. People who prefer a simple burial may also choose this option when planning their funeral ahead of time.
As a free funeral comparison website that lists the prices charged by funeral homes across the country, Funeralocity compiled data showing that the average cost of a direct (immediate) burial in the U.S. is $2,597. This price does not include the cost of a casket, which has an average price of $2,500 according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).
Funeral providers offer specific direct burial services to keep the overall costs low. These services include transferring the remains from the place of death to the funeral home, the basic services of the funeral director, and transportation to the cemetery for burial. The funeral home is also charged with making sure that the body remains secure at all times.
The funeral director is responsible for filing the death certificate, collecting the necessary permits, dressing the body, and placing it in the casket. Keep in mind that embalming is not required for direct burial. However, if the family requests to see their loved one, the funeral home will prepare the body as necessary free of charge (this is not considered a formal viewing). After casketing is completed, the deceased is transported to the cemetery in a van or hearse and interred in the grave. Family members may accompany the body to the cemetery and witness the burial of their loved one if they wish, but there is no graveside ceremony.
As implied in the name, direct burial is an immediate event. Many formalities, such as visitation, funeral service, or memorial ceremony, are not included. There is also no fee for embalming. Because there aren’t any formal services, the family does not need to pay funeral costs for floral arrangements, clergy fees, printed memorial programs, or keepsakes.
The family will need to purchase a casket or an alternative container for the direct burial, either from the funeral home or another vendor. The cost of the burial plot is another additional expense, and the funeral director typically assists with finding a cemetery if the family has not already chosen one. Other expenses include a burial vault (if required by the cemetery), interment fees (for opening and closing the grave), and a headstone or grave marker.
A direct cremation is also an affordable and practical alternative when a loved one dies. Read our guide to find out everything you need to know about direct cremation.Back to Knowledge Center