Cremation Catches up With Burial

Cremation has been steadily gaining popularity over the years and in 2015, for the first time, the cremation rate surpassed the burial rate. This shift, while a dramatic deviation from prior decades, is not very surprising, as it reflects a number of changes in cultural mores and viewpoints. As of 2016, it reached 50.1%, and by 2030, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) predicts that 70% of Americans will choose to be cremated.

One factor behind this uptick is the aging Baby Boomer population. The Boomers tend to do things differently than prior generations, and death is no exception.

Cremation can be a less expensive option than burial. There’s also increased mobility in our society, with many people living far away from their hometowns, and fewer emotional connections to a familial burial plot. A Cremation Association of North America (CANA) report points to “rooted” areas, with strong religious ties, high home-ownership rates, and factories where families continue to work for generations, as being areas with low cremation rates. On the other hand, places with more “roaming” characteristics, like a high concentration of small businesses, less religious affiliation and more immigrants are more likely to be associated with higher cremation rates.

Cremation rates vary widely among states, with Western states at a higher rate, while the South maintains a low rate. Washington is at 77.5% already, with Nevada and Oregon close behind at 76.9% and 74.8% respectively. On the other hand, Alabama’s cremation rate is 26.1%, and Mississippi’s is only 21.9%. An interesting example of the “rooted” vs “roaming” phenomenon can be seen in Michigan, where the cremation rate has grown from 37.1% in 2005 to 56.4% in 2016. This may be due to a changing economy, in which manufacturing jobs have decreased, changing the dynamic of the population, as residents move to find better jobs or attain more education.

It’s safe to say this trend toward increasing cremation will continue.  There are a wide range of cremation options available now, from personalized urns and beautiful memory gardens (check out CremationGardens.org), to coral reefs made of remains, to fireworks that can shoot the remains into the sky. It all equates to a broad variety of ways to make a memorial unique, special, and life-honoring without a burial.  While the number of options have increased, we must also state that some religions are opposed to cremation (Jewish, Muslim, and Orthodox Christians, for example) and some place limitations, such as the Roman Catholic Church encouraging the cremation to be done after a Funeral Mass and insisting that all the cremated remains be kept together and placed in a cemetery or other blessed place.

If you’re considering cremation, whether for you or your loved one, it’s important to look for experience and expertise. While many companies are now trying to capitalize on the trend by offering cremation, cremation has been our exclusive focus for many years. Adhering to a strict code of ethics, our compassionate staff provides the very best care, and can help you to create a tribute that reflects what’s important to you. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.