The Cost of Dying in Rural Mexico–Funeral Services

Last week I convinced my husband to head to a funeraria (mortuary) to ask some questions about funeral services. It’s not like I’m planning on dying anytime soon, but death comes to us all and I wanted to be a little better prepared in case next time I had to make the arrangements. 

I learned there are lots of integrated pieces involved in being buried in Mexico and that you will be charged for each and every one of them. The particular funeraria that we visited has a sort of burial insurance that can be purchased for 800 pesos per year. 

The package included:

  • El ataúd de madera (basic wooden coffin) or la urna básica (simple urn)
  • 120 sillas para el velorio (chairs for the wake)
  • 2 arreglos de flores (flower arrangements)
  • 70 piezas de pan ( sweetbread pieces)
  • 40 sillas para la novena (chairs for the 9 days of prayer)
  • Los spots de radio (radio announcements informing the general public of the funeral times)
  • Traslado del cuerpo (transfer of the body from home/hospital to where the wake is held to the church for mass to the cemetery for burial or to the crematorio)
  • Ayuda con los tramites (help with the documentation)

Of course, if I don’t die for 40 years, the funeraria gets a grand total of $32,000 pesos. So I decided to ask about the individual costs of the items. The following prices are estimates for 2020. 

An average coffin costs about $14,000. An urn for cremated ashes costs approximately 800 pesos. If you have the seguro (insurance) but want a different urn or coffin than the one included in the plan, you pay the difference in price. If you wish to be cremated, you still have to rent the coffin for the wake. 

Cremation can be done locally in our area, so it ends up being less expensive of a service than it might be in other areas. A funeral service with cremation will cost about $10,000. 

The average funeral service with the velorio and novena in the home costs about $6,000 plus the coffin, not including cemetery and church service fees. If the velorio and novena are to be held in la sala de velatorio, also known as la sala de velación o velorio, then there is an additional rental fee for the space.

In order for a funeral to proceed quickly, and since embalming isn’t commonly done here a quick funeral is better, a coroner needs to sign off that the person is actually dead. If the person died in the hospital, then the last attending medical personnel typically handles the paperwork. If the person dies at home, then the funeraria has someone on call to take care of examining the body. 

The funeraria may or may not “arreglar” the body. When my brother-in-law died, the funeral guys only dressed the body because I didn’t give them a chance to say no and I sure wasn’t going to do it. I did provide the clothes though. On the other hand, my mother-in-law was coiffed and make-upped so much that she didn’t even look like herself. Again, the clothes were provided. Both Mama Vira and my mother-in-law had specially made “santa” dresses. You’ll need to pay about $200 pesos to seamstress for that as well. 

In the event of a violent, suspicious or sudden death, and in case of a miscarriage, the body is often taken for an autopsia. The medical examiner on site conducting the autopsy will fill out the paperwork. The funeral home typically takes care of transporting the body to and from the autopsy site, which in our case is more than an hour away in Yuriria. 

When our nephew’s murdered body was found, his autopsy was done in Celaya, three hours away, since it was part of an open criminal investigation. The paperwork was not ready when the funeraria came for the body, so someone had to return to pick it up the next day. Nothing could advance in the funeral procession procedures without that paper.

When my husband’s cousin miscarried at my mother-in-law’s funeral, the fetus was taken to Yuriria for an autopsy to ascertain that she hadn’t intentionally aborted the baby since abortion is still illegal in most of Mexico. She had to wait two days before they returned the little body in a shoe box for her to take back to Cerano and bury. 

This paperwork is essential in order to have the Acta de Defuncion (death certificate) drawn up in el Registro Civil (Civil Registry). Other paperwork involved that the funeraria will help you with includes getting permission for burial in the cemetery or cremation orders. 

Estimating expenses we now know that a funeral service with casket will run you about $20,000 pesos if you hold the services at home and a cremation service about half that at $10,000. If you shop around, you may be able to find a less expensive setup. You can use this checklist if you like.

1 Comment

Filed under Death and all its trappings

One response to “The Cost of Dying in Rural Mexico–Funeral Services

  1. Deborah S

    Thanks for the insights! We have Mexican wills, but really need to do some more complete “end of life” planning.


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