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Why Are Obituaries So Expensive?


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Life is a mosaic of profound moments, comprised of joyous occasions and inevitable losses. The passing of a loved one is, undoubtedly, one of the most distressing periods any of us may face. It not only presents emotional challenges but also several practical considerations, one of which is planning an obituary. Many of us find ourselves perplexed when we discover the high cost associated with obituaries. You’ll find yourself thinking “why are obituaries so expensive?”

This article aims to peel back the layers of this often underestimated expense and provide you with tangible advice for navigating this reality. Our goal is to equip you with the most comprehensive information and shed light on the factors that contribute to these costs.

The Tradition of Obituaries

Obituaries have been an intrinsic part of societal death rituals for centuries. They pay homage to the life of the departed, offering a glimpse into their journey, accomplishments, and the legacy they leave behind. Their primary role is to notify the public of someone’s passing, serving as a conspicuous announcement and brief eulogy. This long-standing tradition, practiced worldwide regardless of cultural or societal differences, carries significant weight. Notably, this historical significance paints part of the picture of why the financial expense attached to obituaries can be high.

Price Breakdown of Obituaries

The cost of obituaries isn’t arbitrary. It’s calculated based on several underlying factors. At its most basic, the price you pay for an obituary chiefly covers the cost of space in a newspaper or publication. Depending on the breadth of the newspapers circulation (whether local, regional, or national) and its prestige or reputation, this base price can vary significantly. Remember that newspapers have limited real estate, and space for obituaries competes with news, advertisements, and other content. Added to this base price, you might incur extra costs for specific considerations. For instance, including a photograph, comprehensive biographical details, or opting to publish for multiple days will push your costs upward.

Why Are Obituaries So Expensive?

Contextualizing obituaries as an extension of the newspaper industrys advertising apparatus can help clarify why they tend to be expensive. Like any other advertisement, obituaries require payment for the physical space they occupy, particularly in print versions. Newspapers, especially in smaller locales, are often the only medium capable of reaching a broad local audience, giving them a sort of monopoly. In addition to this, the operational costs of newspapers which include journalism, printing, and distribution, among others also feed into the pricing of obituaries.

Comparing Costs: Traditional vs Online Obituaries

With the digital revolution, new avenues for publishing obituaries have emerged. Online obituaries have grown increasingly popular, presenting an apparent contrast against traditional print obituaries. They’re typically less costly, often to the point of being completely free, but their reach may be limited, particularly amongst the older demographic who tend to have a lower digital penetration.

Understanding Obituary Costs in Different Locations

The cost of obituary placements also varies from one place to another. Larger circulation newspapers, particularly those in major metropolitan areas, tend to charge higher rates due to their expansive reach and influence. In contrast, obituaries in smaller, local papers could be less costly due to a smaller audience base. Furthermore, the price difference can be notably wide between national and international obituaries. Deploying an obituary in an international publication often carries a premium cost.

Tips to Save on Obituary Cost

Producing an obituary on a limited budget isn’t just a pipe-dream; it’s indeed possible. One of the most effective ways to reduce costs is being concise and clear with your wording. Remember, whenever it comes to print, less is more. Costs often go up with the length of the obituary. Keeping it brief yet heartfelt is a balancing act that pays. Also, it’s worth considering less expensive publications or even online platforms for publishing the obituary. Leveraging these tips can significantly lower costs without necessarily impacting the emotional value and reach of the obituary.

Possible Alternatives to Obituaries

If the costs associated with traditional and online obituaries seem daunting, there are other alternatives to explore. Circulating the news on digital platforms such as email easy and almost entirely free, except it relies on you having the necessary contact information. Social media has also become a popular platform for posting obituaries. Each of these options come with their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the suitability of each will depend on your specific circumstances and needs. For example, while social media may have a wide reach, it might be less efficacious amongst older members of the community who rely more heavily on traditional media sources.


The conclusion of one’s life journey is a profound loss for those they leave behind. During these instances, the struggle of trading grief with the necessary logistical considerations is overwhelming. It’s our sincerest hope that this article penns a more precise roadmap for you to navigate through the intricate path of planning obituaries. We hope this can serve as resources to guide your decisions and provide a measure of relief during this difficult time.

A Final Word

The costs of obituaries are indeed steep, often unexpectedly so, but with the right knowledge and planning, you can work your way around these financial hurdles. Remember, the idea is to honor the departed and provide a platform for collective mourning, without unnecessarily burdening yourself. Armed with the insights from this article, you can take a step toward making an informed decision. In the meantime, take care of yourself and your loved ones as you brave this difficult time.

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