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Cost of Dying Report 2023

At Seniors Choice, we’re here to help you make the right decisions for your future, and the future of your family. Sometimes, you’ll have difficult choices ahead. When it comes to end-of-life planning, we want to do what we can to make those choices easier - especially as the cost of living crisis causes prices to rise in every aspect of our day to day lives. Even before the crisis hit, your funeral could easily cost your loved ones over $12,000 depending on the choices they make for your send off. On average, a standard funeral service might set you back as much as $7,282, and even the most basic service cost around $4,053 in the last five years. 

As always, our friendly team of experts are standing by to answer any questions you might have about how your coverage can help with future planning. But with our 2023 Cost of Dying Report, we’ve gone one step further, so that you can benefit from our detailed insights on what it means to plan a funeral in Canada today.

You can download our full Cost of Dying report here

Why did we create the Cost of Dying Report? 

Our goal with this report is to highlight the various costs associated with end-of-life expenses and funeral planning. Throughout February and March 2023, we surveyed 1,500 Canadians who have had to plan a funeral in the last five years.  

When questioned about the separate aspects of a bereavement, they told us that the coffin or casket is often the biggest individual expense, costing around $2,858 on average. A headstone or plaque can cost as much as $2,163, and other expenses like embalming, burial/cremation, a hearse, and an officiant add a few hundred dollars here and there to the total bill. Then there are costs you might not even consider, such as doctor fees, which can reach around $1,094. The full itemized list can be seen in our report, and it’s clear that there’s plenty to consider.  

All in all, it’s easy to see how these expenses can snowball depending on the choices made. If your family were to choose all of the basic elements and add-ons available for a burial, your funeral could easily cost around $12,512. If they were to make those same choices for a cremation, your service could cost as much as $10,193. 

We also separately surveyed a nationally representative group of 2000 Canadians for their opinions on funeral planning in general (not necessarily including people who had planned a funeral). Speaking with this group helped us to identify some common concerns around planning a funeral in light of today’s cost of living crisis. 

The Cost of Dying and the Cost of Living 

Any conversation about the cost of dying in today’s world should reflect on the cost of living crisis we’re living with. It seems that many Canadians are finding it difficult to keep up with the high prices of basic necessities, with research by Pollara showing that 52% of us are worried about our financial situation. 

With the crisis already putting pressure on Canadian families, it’s easy to see how a bereavement could add a considerable amount of strain, both financially and emotionally. Our findings speak to this, with 57% of respondents saying that the cost of living crisis means they would be less likely to afford the ‘right’ funeral for their loved one today. 45% go so far as to say that if they were to suffer a bereavement now, they couldn’t afford a funeral at all. 

You can download our full Cost of Dying report here

Can planning ahead help?

Losing a loved one is a difficult time for anyone; when we’re grieving, it’s hard to think past the heartache. But all too often, the bereaved find themselves with a thousand decisions to make at a very vulnerable and emotional time. They might have to make small but meaningful choices about music and flowers, often guessing at their loved ones wishes – but they will likely have to make bigger financial decisions too, from hiring a funeral director (anywhere from $1,000 - $7,000+) to catering the reception (an average of $1,148). 

Thinking about a future without the people who matter to us is painful, so it’s no surprise that only 20% of respondents have had that difficult conversation with a loved one. While discussing your wishes can give your family some guidance when the time comes, a lot of the pressure comes down to actually covering the costs. Of the people who answered our Funeral Planning Survey, almost 4 out of 10 who helped plan a funeral in the last five years also ended up paying toward the cost. Often, they made sizable contributions too – most of these people who helped out with the cost spent an average of $4,396. More than one in five found themselves paying for most of the funeral, with their contributions making up between 75% and 100% of the total cost. 

This was usually because the death was unexpected and no plan had been made (29%), but there were many other reasons that people found themselves paying towards a funeral. 25% of bereaved simply wanted to give their loved one a better send off, and 21% said their loved one didn’t have enough money set aside.  

Whatever the reasons behind their contribution, many of our respondents found themselves under significant pressure, with 27% feeling overwhelmed by the additional cost, and 21% struggling to cope with the financial strain. With these insights in mind, it’s clear to see that a bit of financial planning could go a long way towards saving your loved ones from considerable distress at an already difficult time. 

Protecting your loved ones 

Protecting your family might just be the most important choice you ever make. If you’re worried about how your loved ones will cope in the face of your loss, there are ways you can ease that future burden here and now.  

Braving that difficult conversation can make a world of difference, but before you do, it could help to be informed. Think about what kind of send-off you might like, and perhaps look to our report for some guidance on up-to-date costs and considerations. We’ve written a section on Planning Our Own Funeral that might be a good place to start. When you’re ready, you can share your thoughts with the people you love. 

Of course, if our research has taught us anything, it’s that financial planning is the key step to protecting our loved ones from the strain of bereavement. Our Canadian Seniors Life Insurance can provide coverage based on your needs, and our team of trusted advisors are here to help you make a confident decision about your life insurance. It’s a simple way to help your family with funeral costs and end of life expenses, and you can get a free, quick quote in just a few minutes. 

The most important thing you can do for your loved ones is to look to the future. With careful preparation, and guidance from our team here at Seniors Choice, you can provide a secure future for the people you love most. 

Download the Report