How Much Does an Obituary Cost? | More Than You Can Fathom
Do you know how disgustingly astronomical the price of publishing an obituary is? Sadly, I learned this first-hand last week.
My grandfather passed away on Sunday, November 1, but before he left for his heavenly home, I was asked to write his obituary and read it to him. While one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve ever done, it was also one of my greatest honors to be able to pour my soul into my grandfather’s story- one that will be read for generations to come and will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind what kind of man he was.
There was so much for me to write and by the time I got done with the first draft of my grandfather’s obituary, it was already at 397 words. I read my grandfather his obituary and he approved and told me which newspapers to place it in. It was to be published in a newspaper in Florida, one in New York, and one in Washington State. I figured of all the newspapers, placing it in the Albany newspaper would be the most expensive because of the large readership the newspaper has, but it turned out that the highest price came from the Washington State newspaper.
I won’t dive into exactly how much placement of my grandfather’s obituary cost in each of the papers because this was my final act of love for him here on earth, but I will tell you that it came to the tune of SEVERAL hundreds of dollars for each newspaper. Like, more than $300 but less than $900 for EACH newspaper. I haven’t ever placed an obituary in a newspaper, so I was completely blindsided.
Placing an obituary in the newspaper used to be free until sometime in the 1990s. According to Join Cake, the reason newspapers started to charge for obituary placement was because the internet boom happened and people turned to the internet for news rather than a hard paper. Newspapers had to figure out how to bring in extra money and so they started to charge for things they’d not charged for before.
Thinking about our own mortality isn’t something any of us want to do, but I would encourage you when you go through the difficult task of planning out your final wishes to take into consideration that there are VULTURES when it comes to the price of publishing an obituary and you or your loved ones will get raked over the coals. (Side note- my grandpa wasn’t going to have one and I kind of pushed- so he wasn’t negligent in setting aside obituary money). If you want to have an obituary published when you pass, set aside some money specifically to do so if it isn’t built into your pre-arrangements with your funeral home.
A few other things that I learned: if you want to publish an obituary for someone rather than giving the task to a funeral home, you will need to provide the newspaper with the name and phone number of the funeral home or crematorium so they can verify that your loved one has passed and then, you must pay in full whatever exorbitant price is quoted before your obituary will be published.
If you’re looking for a better idea of how expensive it is to place an obituary, the New York newspaper charged me $4.50 a line, plus a $16 service fee per line (insanity), and a photo was an additional $45.
While undeniably expensive, I would do it all over again not only so that the world could read about the remarkable man that my grandfather was, but so that future generations who stumble on his obituary will get a glimpse into our family history and what made us who we are.
If you’d like to read about my grandpa’s amazing life, his obituary is here.