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The cost of living is increasing -- the cost of dying is too

More people opting for ‘natural burials’
The cost of living is increasing -- the cost of dying is too
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The average cost of dying in the United States is more than $19,000 -- based on medical costs and burial or cremation services. Funeral costs alone have risen 23% since 2006 -- and that’s causing some families to look into a different, more natural way of saying goodbye to their loved one.

Choice Mutual collected data from 1,500 Americans in January 2020, June 2021, and April 2022. As a result, researchers found a 6% increase in Americans who are planning a natural burial instead of a traditional one. That brings the percentage to 10%.

“It’s a simple and sustainable burial option which involves placing the body directly into the ground, without embalming, in just an organic shroud so that the body can naturally decompose,” said Olivia Newport, Research Analyst at Choice Mutual.

This year, the average cost of a funeral in Michigan is about $8,000, but it doesn’t stop there. End-of-life costs are added to the funeral cost too. That alone could bring your total to about $12,000.

“And many of the costs with the burial could be foregone by having a natural burial. So you don’t have to pay for the cost of embalming or a casket in a funeral vault,” said Newport.

Toula Saratsis is of Greek heritage, where natural burials are common, so she was a few steps ahead when it was time to say goodbye to her late daughter.

“My child had a conventional burial but a natural after death care experience,” said Saratsis.

She said she would have preferred a natural, green burial for her daughter where she could naturally decompose, but the funeral home closest to her did not authorize placing the body directly into the ground. Instead, her daughter was taken home after death, and she was bathed and cared for at there. When the time came, Saratsis placed her daughter, un-embalmed, into a vault that went into the ground at the nearest cemetery.

“It is all natural, and so there’s no grave-markers. It looks like a park, and so there’s wild flowers, people have stones to commemorate their loved ones where they’re buried at,” said Saratsis.

After her experience with her daughter’s death, Saratsis is now an End-of-Life Doula and Home Funeral Guide.

To have your loved one placed directly into the ground, you’ll need a permit and authorization from the landowner. Natural burials cost an average of $2,000-$3,000. There are designated areas of land set aside for natural burials, but you’ll need a permit.

As a number of urban cemeteries are running out of room, the demand for natural burials is expected to rise. There are at least 4 green burial spaces in Michigan.

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