The Hidden Cost of Dying

Many Americans cannot afford to die, especially with funeral homes lacking transparency about their prices.

Valentine Wiggin
2 min readOct 17, 2023
A jar of coins knocked over with the coins spilling towards the camera
Source: Josh Appel on Unsplash

Could you fork over a minimum of around $7000 at a moment’s notice? Probably not. Those amounts reflect the average cost of a funeral in the USA. In a country where many people struggle to afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and medical care, a sudden death would plunge the average American into a dire financial crisis.

The numbers above only cover the cost of a funeral and not other death-related expenses such as fees for relevant medical and legal services. Those can cost up to around $32,000, which costs more than many Americans, especially those with lower incomes, can afford. Especially now with COVID-19 and the exploitation of the working class

To add to that, it’s difficult to save for something that you may not know the cost of. Many funeral homes do not disclose their prices online. While they are required by law to offer prices in-person, driving to various funeral homes to shop around is rather difficult, if not impossible, for many Americans. The disabled, elderly, and overworked do not have time to do this and those in rural areas may find themselves driving for hours before finding another funeral home.

Since most other businesses with some online presence display prices or price ranges for their services, it seems natural that funeral homes would follow suit, right? Not really. Many funeral home owners said that displaying their prices would not help consumers since they would likely ignore such information. This is not true, especially with more and more Americans and their communities struggling just to stay alive.

With poverty being a major contributing factor to mortality, the looming costs of death can easily catch someone off guard. This is especially true when the decedent is young, disabled, or does not have anyone else to rely on for support. In these cases, these individuals are less likely to have had sufficient time or resources to prepare for their deaths.

In short, in a country where income dictates how people live, it dictates how those people die as well. An unexpected death can easily plunge someone into debt, especially someone with a lower income who may not be able to save money for the future. Not only that, but when many American funeral homes do not disclose their prices online, saving for death-related expenses seems almost as impossible as evading death itself.



Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her