Pricey Funerals: 8 Incredibly Expensive Ways to Rest in Peace

by Miranda Marquit

The sad truth is that dying is expensive. Even a no frills funeral can cost $6,000. By the time you pay for a casket, burial plot and funeral service, it starts to add up. Throw in transportation for the deceased, flowers, obituary notices and other trappings, you are looking at a number that could easily exceed $10,000.

It's one of the reasons that life insurance is so helpful; your loved ones can offset the cost of the funeral and burial without having to break the bank. A good life insurance policy not only provides for your family after you're gone, but it also helps them pay for your interment.

But not everyone tries to save money on funerals. History is full of expensive funerals and burial customs. Here are 8 of the most expensive ways to move into the afterlife:

1. Japanese Funeral

If your burial is taking place in Japan, chances are that your survivors will spend quite a bit more on you than those in many other countries. On average, Japanese funerals cost around $25,000, largely because of the cultural custom of spending money to show your respect for the deceased (and not losing face in front of the neighbors). Another issue, especially if you decide on burial, is that land is at a premium. If you choose not to be cremated, and are buried instead, the cost can quickly get out of hand.

2. Mummification

You don't have to be an ancient Pharaoh to be mummified; there are companies that offer modern mummification. You can have pets mummified, of course, but you can also have yourself mummified -- Egyptian style. The process is similar to that done by the ancients, as closely as can be figured by studying historical records. A group in Salt Lake City, UT, Summum, offers the service. You can pay close to $70,000 to be mummified just like an ancient Egyptian king. You even get a custom sarcophagus.

3. Cryogenics

If you are willing to pay $90,000, you could have your brain cryogenically preserved for the future. If you want your whole body preserved, you will have to spring for $150,000. In either case, the idea is that you could be preserved for the future, just as it is. Many people think that this is a way to immortality: Be preserved now, and then be "awakened" in the future and cured of what ails you with inevitable scientific advancements. There are even cryo plans that break down the cost ($500 a year or so). But you usually have to pay an extra retainer in order to keep a crack team on standby so that you are preserved properly.

4. Precious Gem

Depending on the carat size you are going for, you could pay quite a lot to become a diamond. We are carbon based life forms, and diamonds are pretty much pure carbon. As a result, you can have your cremated ashes -- or even non-cremated bits of you, such as your hair -- turned into diamonds. It takes a great deal of heat and a high amount of pressure to create a diamond. The larger the diamond, the larger the cost. You can pay close to $25,000 or more for a large diamond made from your ashes. But, you know what they say: "A diamond is forever."

5. Posh Cemeteries

Perhaps you can't rub elbows with the rich, powerful and famous in this life. But you could in the next life. If you're willing to pay. There are a number of cemeteries around the U.S. that offer prime burial real estate, just for you. From the Santa Barbara cemetery to the Forest Lawn Memorial park, you can pay between $5,000 and up to $1 million for certain plots of land. Choose a desirable location, and you pay even more. Some cemeteries even have "estates" that you can purchase. Mausoleums only add to the cost. However, these posh cemeteries are known for their superior maintenance, as well as their style and attractiveness.

6. Presidential Style

You wouldn't think that the tax payers would spend that much on the funeral of someone who had been president. But that isn't the case. Presidents are buried with plenty of pomp and circumstance. Indeed, when you consider the cost of having the president lie in state for a couple of days, and think of the memorial service and proceedings, you can see where it would add up. On top of that, there are transportation costs to think of. Air Force One, and other modes of transportation to get a former president to his (and someday maybe her) resting place, costs thousands of dollars an hour. Former President Ronald Reagan's funeral cost an estimated $400 million to the tax payers.

7. Celebrity Funeral

If you are a celebrity, your funeral is bound to be pricey. Anna Nicole Smith had her casket draped with rhinestones. Princess Diana's funeral, a royal affair, is estimated to have cost somewhere around $5 million. And Michael Jackson's funeral cost around $1 million. Jackson's casket alone cost $25,000, and his outfit cost $35,000. Celebrity funerals are expensive because you have to pay for a number of high class and high priced items. Plus, you can't forget the millions lost in productivity for celebrity funerals that are televised.

8. Conquering Death?

Alexander the Great, that well-known ancient conqueror, might be held in immortality for more than just his military accomplishments. He currently holds the title of "most expensive funeral." In today's dollars, there are estimates that it cost $600 million. Additionally, it took two years to plan the funeral (and get the body back to his ancestral home in Macedonia. Alexander had a gold sarcophagus encased inside a gold casket. You can't really beat all that gold. Especially when you realize that the carriage that was carrying all of this gold was itself gold. No wonder Alexander's empire fell apart. It was probably bankrupted by his funeral!

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{ 5 comment… read it below or add one }

jo oliver July 21st, 2010
Just put me in a wood box and call it a day. All this cost, fuss, and sadness is not necessary. Some great examples of how expensive and over the top funerals have become. To each their own, but my personal opinion is that funerals like the above are not for the dead, but rather for the living.
sir jorge July 22nd, 2010
they are all ridiculously priced, wow
LadyRavensWing July 22nd, 2010
Goodness! Darn good thing that I have already decided that I wished to be cremated... Over and done with already.. Remember me as I was.. Happy and Full of life... THAT'S the way to go!
debt freedom plan August 19th, 2010
I'm with joe. just toss me in a wood box. It's not like I'll be around to care.
Wilde August 26th, 2010
Cyrogenics for me please. You lot will be rotted and I'll be flitting round the future in my flying car.

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