NHFA's 2023 US Funeral Consumer Survey concluded in September 2023. Over three hundred respondents participated from across the United States.
In summary -- NHFA found that cost does matter to funeral consumers in the United States. The majority of funeral consumers in our survey indicated that the cost of a funeral posed a substantial burden, and a majority of consumers surveyed indicated that if prices were available online, they would do price comparisons to find the best affordable options. A majority of consumers surveyed also preferred price transparency, stating a strong preference that the costs of funeral products and services be made available online.
Our findings are in contrast to claims made by the National Funeral Directors Association that cost "doesn't matter" for most US funeral consumers, a response to the FTC proposal to make funeral prices more transparent and require that they be made available online.
Here is a breakdown of our findings.
Our respondents were fairly evenly distributed across large cities (27%), moderate cities (29%), small cities (23%), and rural areas (21%).
The majority of our respondents were between the ages of 25 and 64 (85%), with about 15% of our respondents under 25 or 65 and older.
55% of our respondents had personally planned a funeral; 38% of our respondents knew someone who had planned a funeral.
82% of our respondents indicated that the median cost of a funeral* would significantly impact their ability to afford what they needed, with 49% responding that they would need to use credit or crowdfunding to afford the cost of a funeral.
79% of our respondents stated that they have either personally have had trouble covering the cost of a funeral, or that they know someone who has.
When asked "If you had to cover the cost of a funeral this month," 53% stated that "cost would be a significant factor;" 34% stated that cost would factor "a lot" or a "moderate amount."
62% of respondents indicated that the very first thing they would do, if they had to plan a funeral, would be to look at funeral products and prices online (if they were available). 29% ranked "looking at funeral products and prices online" as their second and third preferred steps in funeral planning. 76% of respondents ranked "making an in-person appointment" as their very last or second-to-last action step in their preferred order, despite NFDA's claims that requiring consumers to come in for consultation without prior access to information mirrors what most consumers want.
See a selection of free text responses following the links below.
*According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral in 2021 was $7,848.00.
Link to graphs and free text responses.
Selected Free Text Responses
The NHFA has been Advocating for Home Funerals at the FTC Workshop in Washington DC
This past Thursday, the National Home Funeral Alliance Board President Isabel Knight was advocating for funeral consumers, including home funeral families and individuals, at a workshop the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was holding regarding updating the Funeral Rule in Washington DC.
Isabel served on 2 of the 5 panels during the day, which covered how the FTC should require funeral homes to post prices if the FTC mandates that funeral homes post prices online, and revisions to the general price list, such as whether or not the embalming disclosure should be re-written.
The NHFA advocated for funeral homes posting clear pricing pages from the topline navigation of their websites, as well as ensuring that funeral homes do not try to get around the legislation by hiding their pricing pages from Google search results. We also advocated for more disclosures so that people who are shopping for funeral prices can understand their rights under the funeral rule, as well as their right to a home funeral in every state.
You can view a recording of the workshop here.
Some useful timestamps:
Link to a news piece on the issue.
Join us on Wednesday, September 27th at 5pm PT | 8pm ET for BACKYARD BURIALS with Elizabeth Fournier of Green Burial Portland.
Register to attend this event live, or receive the recording made available afterward to all registrants. There is a sliding scale to attend, starting at $10. Link to register here.
In this webinar, green burial advocate Elizabeth Fournier will talk about backyard burial in the United States. A backyard burial includes burying a person on residential property, or land that is privately owned. Most bodies are buried in established, endorsed cemeteries, but burial on private property may be possible. Laws vary not only state to state but county to county in the US; it’s most accepted and typical in rural settings.
If you are considering a backyard burial, think carefully about what it may mean for the property itself and the person who owns it (which may be yourself). All other issues aside, burying someone on private land impacts the future sale of that property. In addition, however remote the concern may be, you should consider how you’d feel, and what you would do, if your deceased loved one resided on property that you no longer owned.
Elizabeth Fournier began her career in 1990 in Portland, OR, where she was employed as the live-in night keeper, sleeping in a trailer in a Portland cemetery. Thirty-three years later, she is a one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon. Elizabeth owns and operates Cornerstone Funeral Services where she is affectionately known as “The Green Reaper” for her green burial advocacy. She is also the Manager of Historic Columbian Cemetery, Portland's newest green burial choice, and author of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Green Burial Alliance, gave a TEDx talk called, "Going Green: The Last Act of Environmental Volunteerism," and People Magazine honored her work by writing, “Elizabeth Fournier is doing her part to change the way Americans bury their dead.”
Vote to see Community Deathcare Panels at SXSW 2024!
See links to vote below.
NHFA Board Member Isabel Knight & former Board Member Lashanna Williams are pitching two panels on community deathcare for the 2024 South by Southwest Conference. Your input during the Community Voting Period (until 8/20) can help make these panels a reality!
PANEL #1: ARE YOU AFRAID TO DIE ALONE? WHY WE NEED COMMUNITY DEATHCARE
Join us, a group of nonprofit leaders whose organizations are championing community deathcare as we talk about why deathcare is inherently a community-driven project. You cannot have a good death without a community, and the heroic, difficult, often thankless act of building that community is something that itself will help you live a longer, richer life. You simply can’t lift a body, wash and shroud a body, or dig a grave by yourself. The future we want to see is one where people die when they want to, where they want to, and how they want to. You are an integral part of making that happen.
Isabel Knight, President, National Home Funeral Alliance
Sarit Wishnevski, Executive Director, Kavod v'Nichum
Lashanna Williams, Executive Director, A Sacred Passing
Emily Miller, Board Member, Green Burial Council
Vote for "Are You Afraid to Die Alone?" at SXSW 2024 here.
PANEL #2: ALIX IN FUNERALLAND: OVERCOMING IMPOSSIBLE DEATHCARE THINGS
Inspired by the nonsensical world of Alice in Wonderland, we identify “impossible” challenges experienced with deathcare, suggesting ways to overcome them, individually and collectively. Included: The Rabbit Hole (pressure for getting it right and doing enough), The White Rabbit (white western world social expectations for death and funerals), The Cheshire Cat (grief which comes and goes forcefully, without warning), The Queen of Hearts (marginalization of experiences from personal and professional structures), and a sequel, The Jabberwocky (a fearsome life that remains).
Bonnie Bizzell, Owner & Guide, BOANN
Ashley Johnson, Founder, Death Doula, Loyal Hands
Lashanna Williams, Executive Director, A Sacred Passing
Sara Williams, President, Funeral Consumers Alliance North Carolina
Vote for “Alix in FuneralLand” at SXSW 2024 here.
Join NHFA at the FUNERAL RULE WORKSHOP with the Federal Trade Commission! September 7, 2023 at 9:30am. Washington, DC. In-person, virtual, or submit a public comment!
Let the FTC know that we want transparent funeral pricing for all – nobody should have to jump through hoops to understand funeral pricing, especially when they are grieving.
The FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, is the governing body that regulates the funeral industry. They have one regulation called the Funeral Rule that determines what funeral homes can and cannot do.
This past November, they put out an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, basically letting the public know that they are considering amending the Funeral Rule and asking the public to comment on the changes to the Funeral Rule that they would like to see. This is a very rare occurrence since the FTC governs so many different industries.
Now they are having a free workshop in DC on September 7th to cover topics such as:
You can submit comments directly to the FTC by October 10, 2023. Link to submit comments here.
Special thanks to @thedeathdesigner on Instagram for this content.
Join us Monday, August 14th at 5pm PT | 8pm ET for our August 2023 Webinar - Good Dying: An African American Perspective. This 90-minute event will be led by William Dixon.
Register to attend this event live, or receive the recording made available afterward to all registrants. There is a sliding scale to attend, starting at $10.
Link to register here.
In this webinar, palliative care chaplain William Dixon will draw on thirty years of healthcare experience and his doctoral research to explore the concept of good dying from an African American perspective. William will discuss how anti-black systemic racism and African American religious cultures impact individual views of death/dying, and offer thoughts on how to support African American patients at end-of-life.
William Dixon is currently a Palliative Care Chaplain at Inova Fairfax Hospital in the Washington, DC metro area. He is co-author of the chapter on Cultural Humility in the Oxford Medicine Textbook of Palliative Care Communication (2015). William earned his Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care from United Theological Seminary in 2008 and is now pursuing a Master of Legal Studies with emphasis in bioethics. He is a Board Certified Chaplain who brings over thirty years of experience in healthcare and ministry, with a speciality in palliative care chaplaincy.