© KTLA5Everything is more complicated after the loss of a loved one. Donโ€™t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help, even for casket shopping.
While death is simply a fact of life that everyone must ultimately face, planning for the costs of our own passing is not generally a hot topic of discussion, which is why many in California, among the top five most expensive states to be buried in, get sticker shock when dealing with funeral expenses.

According to data from the National Funeral Directors Association and research conducted by USA Today Blueprint, the average cost of a funeral in the United States is $7,848.

These expenses can be for items like storage of the remains, the casket, embalming and use of the funeral home's staff and facilities for the ceremony.

Adjusting for the different cost of living across states, researchers found the following 10 states to have the highest prices for a funeral:
  1. Hawaii - $14,964.90
  2. District of Columbia - $12,184.40
  3. Massachusetts - $12,159.50
  4. California - $11,495.50
  5. New York - $10,449.70
  6. Alaska - $10,391.60
  7. Maryland - $9,669.50
  8. Washington - $9,628.00
  9. Vermont - $9,569.90
  10. Oregon - $9,520.10
The top 10 states with the least expensive funeral costs, according to the research, included:
  1. Oklahoma - $7,154.60
  2. Mississippi - $7,162.90
  3. Kansas - $7,229.30
  4. West Virginia - $7,279.10
  5. Alabama - $7,328.90
  6. Missouri - $7,345.50
  7. Arkansas - $7,387.00
  8. Tennessee - $7,494.90
  9. Iowa - $7,494.90
  10. Michigan - $7,519.80
Chris Paul, Vice President and board member of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Los Angeles, a nonprofit funeral planning resource, spoke to researchers about how consumers can navigate the complexities of arranging a funeral to keep the costs as low as possible.

First on the list was to plan ahead, which allows you to research costs, write out what you'd like and share your final wishes with family and friends, rather than them dealing with these decisions during a period of grief.

"That loving gesture will be more appreciated than most people can understand," Paul said.

Another option to keep end-of-life costs low is donating your body to science. Residents in 15 states, including California, can register to begin the process through an organization called Science Care. A caveat here, according to Paul, is that not everyone will have their body accepted, so it's important to consider a backup option.

Making sure to include required goods and services can also help loved ones stay on a budget. More than 70% of items in a mortuary or funeral home's price list are likely optional and can be limited.

For instance, skip embalming.

"Embalming is not a required service. It is mainly used when remains must be preserved for weeks before burial," Paul said. "Generally, if you have your final wishes planned, written out and ready to implement, you stand a good chance of avoiding this $700-$800 expense."

Finally, consider alternative venues for a ceremony, such as holding a celebration of life function in your home, which is usually less expensive than hosting them at a funeral home. Many churches or other houses of worship also don't charge their congregants a fee to use the sanctuary and other facilities for a funeral.

More information on the study's methodology, as well as a breakdown of typical funeral expenses and more tips to reduce costs can be found by following this link.