Free Cremation For Low-Income

For many low-income individuals experiencing a loved one’s death, you may be considering many options on what to do next. Funerals can cost, in some cases, up to $12,000, which can be quite a financial obstacle to overcome for most households. Cremation services are much cheaper than undergoing each step of the funeral process but can still cost thousands of dollars.

Cremation may still be out of the question for many low-income families struggling to make ends meet. There are a couple of ways to go about having a body cremated on a budget and, in some cases, can be done entirely free of charge.

Free Cremation Through Body Donation

While it may be a new concept you haven’t considered before, donating a body for scientific research is the most common way to receive free cremation. Donating the body to a research lab or medical school is a great way to aid in science progression and save thousands of dollars. Once a body has been donated, the research lab or medical school will typically cover the costs of transporting the body, the death certificate, and the cremation itself.

Organ donation is different from whole-body donations. Their driver’s license usually identifies organ donors through the organ donor badge. If individuals opt to donate their organs to science, this will not affect the body’s cremation costs after death. However, it is essential to note that the person in mind must still be alive and apply themselves to file for body donating. 

Why Donate The Body To Science?

Not only will donating the body to science reduce the costs associated with a death such as cremation, but it is also a phenomenal way to contribute to finding solutions to simple and complex medical issues. Medical schools receive donated bodies every year that students use during the learning process. Tests are done on deceased bodies to develop new medical practices, disease treatments, and medical devices. Each part of the human body is vital towards progressing scientific knowledge in some way or another. Research labs and medical schools rely on donated bodies to continue training new doctors and discover new methods to treat the living.

Most people are eligible to have their bodies donated to science unless they meet a few unfortunate criteria. Individuals suffering from severe diseases or illnesses such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, or tuberculosis are ineligible to have their bodies donated to a medical facility to ensure the safety of those working on the body for learning purposes. Most medical schools will only accept entire bodies for donation and will not accept donated bodies that have prior arrangements made for organ donation.

Once the facility in which the body has been donated is finished with their research, the body will be returned to the family after cremation. This process can take quite a bit of time, resulting in the body being held for years in some cases.

American Association of Tissue Banks

If a body has not been pre-registered for donation before death, donating the body to an accredited organization through the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) may be the choice for you. Many of the tissue banks registered with the AATB allow for bodies to be registered after the death, which proves especially useful when death is brought upon without warning or time to register for donation.

In-depth information on programs and the application process can be found directly through the American Association of Tissue Banks website. Once the body has been accepted for donation, the organization you choose will take care of the rest. The chosen organization completely covers cremation costs, the death certificate, and the body’s transportation. In most cases, the body is returned to the family in a matter of weeks.  Home | The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB)

Some organizations, such as Science Care, will allow the donor to decide which of their organs will be used for transplants and will use the remaining tissues and organs for research purposes. Science Care – Donate your body to science – no-cost program

How To Sign Up For Full-Body Donation

The fastest and easiest way to pre-register for full-body donation is by contacting your local medical school and going through their body donation program. Most medical schools will have this program available. If your local medical school is not accepting donations during the time of death, reach out to medical schools in other areas of your state.

Signing up for a body donation program through the Medical Education and Research Institute is also a great way to have your body predestined towards medical advances and technology. Organizations such as Genesis will accept bodies from many states to widen their range of donations. This is an excellent option if you cannot find an organization in your state accepting full-body donations. Visit MERI for more information.


Death can be an uncomfortable and stressful time for all those involved. Coupled with the expenses associated with post-death treatment can endeavor an even more difficult time. Cremation will undeniably be the cheapest option but can still be out of reach financially for low-income individuals.

Donating the body to science can eliminate most costs related to death and help the medical community work towards new treatments and medical advances. This will frequently be the most cost-efficient way to have a body cremated while serving a greater purpose.

Full-body donation is not the route you wish to explore; reaching out to friends and family can prove extremely useful when raising funds for the cremation or funeral.

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