Types of Funerals and their Costs

coffins of African migrants in Lampedusa

Death and funerals are personal. Every individual should have the choice to choose how and where they are put to rest. Nowadays, there are numerous methods to fit every taste. 

Questions to help you choose the perfect method

  1. Do you want your body buried or cremated?
  2. Should you be put to rest where you die or in your rural home or in a public cemetery?
  3. Should the place you are buried remain anonymous or labelled for visitors?
  4. How long do you want your grave preserved?
  5. Do you want your grave maintained and taken care of?
  6. How much should it cost?


Burial of the body (Sarg- oder Erdbestattung)

This is the traditional method most of us know of. You can choose to be buried in a cemetery here in Germany or have your body transported back to Kenya. A basic burial in Germany ranges from 700 to 7000 euros depending on the burial site, type of coffin and services offered by the funeral home. According to the consumer initiative for burial, Aeternitas, a burial can even get to €25,000.

Transporting a body back to Kenya costs between €6000 and €15000 depending of course on specifications of what the funeral director has to do to prepare the body and eventually the airline they use to deliver the body to Kenya. In addition to this you have to consider costs that may be incurred in Kenya e.g. mortuary costs in case the body arrives a few days before the planned burial date; cost of a renting a burial space if the person is to be buried in a public cemetery and of course church costs and food for the mourners.


Cremation (Feuerbestattung, KremationEinäscherungKremierung)

Cremation offers the most options. Once the body has been cremated, then the possibilities thereafter are endless. Relatives outside Germany may even choose to keep the ash at home, though this is illegal in Germany but is allowed in Switzerland and can be taken care of by the funeral home. Cremation of a body on average costs between 200 and 500 euros.


Burial of the Urn with the ash (Urnenbestattung)

In this case, the body is cremated and the remains buried. You can choose to be cremated in Germany and have the ash buried in Kenya. This is slightly cheaper than burying the body but not too much of a difference. A basic burial of the ash costs between 700 and 6,ooo euros. The price varies greatly from one city to another, the highest cost recorded is €12,500. Of course the type of urn may also raise the final costs.


Burial at Sea (Seebestattung)

This method was reserved for the seamen and sailors, but from 1934, Germany now allows it for the masses. The ashes are put in a soluble urn which is then deposited in the sea or ocean. The deposit takes place within the “3-mile zone” which is areas where no fishing or water sports take place.

Funeral homes in Germany offer depositing in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, however, exceptions may be made for those who prefer to be deposited in the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean or any other seas.

Burial at sea costs between 1000 and 7000 euro.

A difference is made between:

  • Stille Seebestattung – this is anonymous with no ceremony, the funeral home takes care of the deposit without any family involvement. This costs  €1000 basic fee.
  • Begleitete Seebestattung – this includes family and friends who accompany the urn. It costs 600 – 800 euro more than the Stille one and allows only 12 mourners to join the procession.


Tree burial (Baumbestattungen / Naturbestattungen)

In this burial, the ash is put in a biodegradable urn and is buried close to the roots of a tree in specified sections of forest. You can choose between having an anonymous grave or having a marked one. Considering wreathes, tombstones or crosses aren’t allowed, a small plaque with the name of the deceased is hung on the trunk of the tree.

This type of burial usually costs between 2400 and 8800 euros. The basic fee is only €250, however, the choice of tree can be quite expensive. One may choose from a tree shared with family, friends or with the public. A public tree is the cheapest and costs between 430 and 1200 euros. While a friends or family only tree goes for 2500- 6350 euros.

The most prominent tree burial within the Kenyan community was that of Misterseed’s Relative from Bonn in 2013.


Memorial Diamonds (Diamantbestattungen or Erinnerungsdiamanten

I found this to be the most fascinating method. Some of the ash is subjected to high temperatures and pressure to produce diamonds. The cheapest is the 0.4 carat diamond and costs €5000 while a single carat diamond will set you back €13000. Not much of the ash is used, so you can still use the remaining ash to undertake another form of burial.

The production of memorial diamonds is illegal in Germany and therefore only offered by funeral homes with connects in Switzerland or Holland.


Burial in flight (Luftbestattung)

In this case, relatives scatter the ashes of the deceased from an aeroplane or a hot air balloon. This can be quite cheap with the costs ranging from €750 for an anonymous scattering with no relatives at the event and up to €2500 when some relatives are included.


Burial in space (Weltraumbestattung)

To those who love science fiction and anything to do with space. A small amount of the ash, anything from 1-7 grams is put in a mini-urn/metal capsule and together with other urns, usually in the USA is released in a rocket into space. The remaining ash may be buried in any of the other methods.

Celestis Space Services in the USA offers fairly priced burials in space for as little as €700 for suborbital deposit. However, other companies aren’t as generous. For an orbital burial, you would be looking at at least €2500 for the first gram and up to €5000 for 7grams. If you’d prefer to spend the rest of your days on the moon, then the cost for that starts at €10,000 for the first gram.

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