Many funeral costs are easy to anticipate. Caskets, headstones, and burial plots all come with an established price tag. But many people may not expect the cost of publishing an obituary.
An obituary serves as an announcement of someone’s death. Obituaries usually include biographical information about the deceased. They also often have a list of surviving relatives. Finally, an obituary includes practical information about the funeral or memorial service.
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Obituaries used to run in papers for free, but that began to change in the 1990s. When internet usage became more widespread, people started getting their news online. This caused newspaper circulation to drop and the industry took a big financial hit. Newspapers needed to find new revenue streams. One of those streams was monetizing obituaries. It is a secure source of income for most newspapers. This is especially true in larger cities. After all, people die every day.
Many people still use newspapers as the primary source for publishing obituaries. There are several reasons for this. First, printed obituaries are a longstanding tradition. We often cling to things like this out of a sense of nostalgia. Or by sheer force of habit. Also, many older members of the population read the paper every day. But they may not be particularly internet-savvy.
The internet has proved that it is here to stay. Many people believe that print journalism as we know it will be dead in a matter of years. This means more people will begin exploring digital alternatives to printed obituaries.
How Much You’ll Pay for a Newspaper Obituary
Whether you're writing an obituary for someone else (or for yourself), running it in a newspaper will cost you money. The newspaper isn’t asking you to pay for a writer’s time: they are asking you to pay an advertising fee.
But instead of advertising a business or a product, you are advertising the death of a loved one. An obituary offers no further financial gain for the newspaper. The publisher charges a fee because of that.
There's no real standard for how much a newspaper obituary costs. Newspapers may charge per word, per line, or per column inch, or you may be able to buy a quarter or half-page. A photograph of the deceased may be an extra charge.
Even a brief obituary on a newspaper’s website will start around $200. If you want to include a few paragraphs about the person’s life, the price will rise to somewhere between $400 to $650. The cost will vary depending on your location. A lengthy obituary could cost upwards of $1000 to publish.
These costs can rise even higher, too. Sunday papers tend to have the highest circulation, and so ad space in these issues can cost a premium. You may end up paying a lot more for an obituary that runs on Sunday. Also, if you run an obituary for multiple days, you will incur fees every day it is run.
The best way to find out how much an obituary costs in your local newspaper is to call them or email them directly. They’ll be able to help you and can explain the prices for different types of obituaries.
Paying for end-of-life expenses: If you need some help paying for an obituary and other end-of-life expenses, consider creating an online memorial to your loved one with fundraising. Cake's online memorial pages make it easy to set up a fundraiser and ask visitors for donations in lieu of flowers or sympathy gifts.
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Lower-Cost Alternatives to a Traditional Obituary
The internet provides free and instantaneous access to information from around the world. And it also provides lower-cost alternatives to a traditional obituary. Here are a few alternatives to share an obituary about your loved one with the world:
Online-only newspaper obituaries
Many newspapers that print obituaries also post the obituaries online on their websites. They may charge an extra fee or include it in the fees associated with printing it in the newspaper.
But, newspapers will often allow you the option to run the obituary online only. The fee for running an obituary online is much more reasonable. On average you can expect to pay between $50 and $100. When an obituary runs online, there is usually no limit on how long it can be.
This allows you to include more detail on the life of your loved one. You’re able to share their life stories in a way that is richer and more detailed. It’s also more likely that you’ll be able to include a photo with an online obituary,
The best part about opting for an online obituary is that it can be visited indefinitely. This means that people can discover it or revisit it, even after time has passed. Considering a printed obituary costs money for each day it runs, this feature is a great bonus.
Another trend in digital death announcements is online memorials. An online memorial is a virtual space designed to commemorate someone. A memorial website can be a shared destination for people to remember their loved ones.
A website can include all the biographical information in a traditional, lengthy obituary. It may also include several images of the deceased throughout their life. It can also include anecdotes and funny stories to create a more full picture of the deceased.
Not the most internet-savvy person around? Don’t worry about building a website from scratch or hiring someone to do it at great expense. Several affordable services exist that make creating a memorial website simple and low-stress. These sites will typically include hosting a memorial site in their fee. You can customize the features you want to use.
This allows you some control over the look of the site. A section can be created to feature photos. You can allow readers of the site to leave comments and share stories. And you can even pay extra for features like background music.
Consider adding trusted family or friends as administrators to help run the site if you aren’t up to it. Many services offer you the ability to pay a one-time fee for as little as $99 for the site. You can also set up plans where you pay a monthly or annual fee.
Memorializing a Facebook account
It seems like just about everybody has a social media presence these days. Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms, and people of all ages have accounts.
Some people find it painful to see reminders of their loved ones online. They will deactivate or delete the Facebook account after someone passes away. But instead of doing that, consider memorializing a Facebook account.
Memorializing someone’s Facebook account keeps it active indefinitely. This way you don’t lose access to the pictures posted or words written by your loved one. But it will stop Facebook features like birthday notifications for their account. And it won’t be included in the “People You May Know” suggestions Facebook generates.
Seeing reminders like these when you’re unprepared can be painful. Memorializing an account is another way to let people know that someone has passed away. It’s also completely free.
If you have a friend that has passed away but their account is still active, reach out to their next of kin. Let them know about the memorialization option. If you’re preparing to pass, start the process of memorializing your Facebook page.
Appoint someone you trust as a legacy contact. They can finish transitioning your page to a memorial account after your death. And they’ll retain some administrative powers over your account by being your legacy contact.
Explore Your Obituary Options
A printed obituary is still established practice. But even if you are more comfortable with a traditional obituary, you can consider an online version. While newspapers do offer a tactile aspect, they are temporary. And not everyone will have access to them.
Adding an online obituary makes it easy to share information with loved ones far and wide. And it can be easier to customize too. Whatever you do, feel comfortable in your choice. You are honoring a loved one by memorializing them. That is what matters most.