Why are so many people choosing cremation today, over traditional burial options? This answer is not a simple one, and certainly can’t be answered in one blog post, but I think we can deal with a few of the reasons.
According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) in 2016, the rate of cremation in the United States surpassed that of burial.
The National Funeral Directors Association statistics tell us that in the 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report that the rate of cremation surpassed burial in 2015 by almost 3%.
So why are so many people choosing cremation in the United States today? Here are just a few.
1. Cremation has become a norm in our society, and that norm is becoming increasing popular. In times past, certain religious groups frowned on the process of cremation, but today it is becoming a choice of many religious leaders. Some religious leaders today even encourage their members to consider cremation. While this sounds simple, it is not. The way that we care for our dead has progressed over time, and it is continuing to progress.
2. People are more transient than they used to be many years ago. Years ago, people were born, raised, worked, and lived in a community their entire life. They made friends, and built relationships in the community. They went to church their entire life in the same community, they died in the community, and was buried in the family cemetery in the community. However, in today’s time it is not uncommon for people to be born in one community, be raised in another, work in another, go to church in another, etc. the close nit ties that people had with a community or their family are not always what they used to be decades ago. With cremation, cremated remains (commonly referred to as ashes) can be easily shipped to another location, while shipping a human body can be more complex and costly. With our society being more transient, less people visit graves and memorial sites as they used to. With cremation, the urn can be transported with the family.
3. Concerns about the environment. I have interviewed many cremation families that told me they choose cremation because they felt that burial in an embalmed body, in steel casket, inside a vault, in the earth is not only a waste of money, but a waste of our natural resources. As we mentioned earlier, the way people see death and caring for the dead has changed.
4. Many people today feel that a body doesn’t have to be present to celebrate a life, and have a meaningful memorial. The way people view funerals today are changing. A funeral used to be a time of mourning, wearing dark clothes, listen to sad songs, etc. today many families are choosing to have a Celebration Of Life rather than a funeral. This celebration of life may be a reception with dinner, dancing, and sharing memories of the deceased. It may be held at a church in a more religious context. At any rate, many families today feel that the service will be more depressing with the body present. So they choose cremation and opt for a Celebration Of Life Ceremony instead.
5. Society is becoming more non-traditional. The way we traditionally remembered our loved ones is changing, and as this changes more people are deciding to choose cremation instead of traditional burial.
6. There are more options with cremation than burial. It’s true! Some families hold their own memorial services without the funeral homes involvement. The cremated remains can be scattered, buried, kept in an Urn at home, or placed in a columbarium. There are companies that offer the option of having cremated remains etched into jewelry, launched into space, etc. some people choose multiple keepsake urns where the remains can be divided among many family members across the country or around the world. A portion can be buried in one state, and a portion of the remains in another state. A memorial service can be held months after the death. Some choose to have a traditional public viewing of the body and funeral ceremony followed by cremation, while others just choose a direct, basic cremation with no services or viewing. A professional funeral director can explain all of these options with a family.
7. The Cost of Cremation. I saved this for last, because I feel that this is the last reason why people actually choose cremation. However, it does play a factor. Many people feel that the cost of cremation is less expensive than burial. While this true in many cases, it ultimately depends on the type of services you choose to have.
We hope this gives some insight into why so many people are choosing cremation today in the United States.