When it comes to cremation, it’s not always about cost. For some families, there are a lot of reasons why they would choose cremation over traditional burials.
And as the cremation rate keeps climbing, it’s important for funeral professionals to understand all the reasons people are choosing cremation.
Cremation: It’s Not a Trend, It’s the Future
In the 1950s, only around 4% of Americans were cremated. Burial was the predominant means of disposition. Fast forward to today, and more Americans are getting cremated (48.5%) as opposed to buried (45.4%), according to the NFDA. And cremation is still growing.
In 2017, the cremation rate is projected to be more than 50%. By 2030, it’s expected to be more than 70%. For states like Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and New Hampshire, the cremation rate is already well above 70%.
In a press release on the 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report, NFDA President Bob Arrington said that “To us and the families we serve, cremation isn’t just a ‘trend.’”
Why the Rise in Cremation Rates?
It’s more than just money. While cremation costs only a third to a half of what traditional funerals cost, families also are choosing cremation for a number of other reasons. Here are a few big ones.
1. The Rise of the “Nones”
A lot of our funeral traditions stem from religion — especially when it comes to burial. But America is shifting toward secularism as more Americans are claiming to have no affiliation with any particular faith or religious group.
The Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study has found that these unaffiliated, or “nones,” now make up around 23% of American adults. In fact, they make up the second-largest group in North America, overtaking Catholics, mainline protestants, and others.
As this group of unaffiliated grows, they are choosing new traditions when it comes to dying. And for many, that means choosing cremation over traditional burial.
2. Religion Changes
Another reason for choosing cremation is that religion has gotten more relaxed about the rules. While historically many religions — like Catholicism or Judaism — have opposed cremation, they have changed their stance in recent years. Some church-owned cemeteries have even started offering new columbariums to store the ashes of the deceased.
3. Concerns about the Environment
Concerns about the environment and land availability also have driven people to cremation.
The Funeral Consumers Alliance found that the second most popular reason people in America choose cremation is that it preserves land. Others want to limit their carbon footprint after death, and they see cremation as a greener or more eco-friendly option than burial.
There are even movements to push for an even greener cremation, as seen in the rise of alkaline hydrolysis, which involves the process of dissolving a body in a saltwater solution.
Another reason cremation is so popular is that it allows families more time to plan a memorial service. Cremation takes away any time constraints that a burial might have. That extra time allows for a no-rush approach to planning a service.
5. Families Are All Over
In the past, burials were simple because a family could easily gather at their local community church. And after the burial, they could still visit their loved one in the cemetery. But today, families aren’t living as close together as they used to. More families are spread out across the country.
With cremation, families aren’t tied down to a specific cemetery or location. They can scatter the ashes or bring the urn containing their loved one with them when they move.
One of the biggest reasons a family chooses cremation is because of the near endless customization it brings. Families can choose to remember their loved one in a way that’s fitting to them.
It goes hand in hand with the rise of personalization — another top trend, according to the NFDA. Families can have custom-made urns, incorporate their loved one into an ocean reef, use a loved one’s cremated remains to make their favorite vinyl record or even send their ashes into space. (Check out this article to see other ways families are using cremated ashes to uniquely remember a loved one.)
For what reasons have you seen families choosing cremation? Share with us in the comments below!
Cremation does sound really nice. It’s cool that it can take away the time constraints that a traditional burial puts on the family. When I die, I’d love for it to be easier on my family, so I’ll probably request cremation.
my mom chose cremation back in 2010. she passed away May 24 2016. four days shy of her 82 nd birthday. a very short and sudden illness.
it was made much ‘easier’ since she pre-paid for it. one call from the hospital and they brought her over to the chosen funeral home.
wasn’t crazy for the 10 day wait. but they said 7 people had passed away that week.
I pre-paid my cremation plans in May of this year, and even to be interred next to my mom in her niche.
I recommend this to anyone who can afford it. it’s fairly easy to do and reasonable. shop around, prices vary.
like mom, I am skipping any funeral services.
My mother has cancer and only has a limited amount of time to live. While it may sound morbid, we are trying to plan the funeral arrangements that will inevitably come. We are trying to decide if cremation would be a good option. Like you said, cremation allows the family to take away any time constraints that a burial funeral might have. Thanks for sharing!
My best friend is dealing with a death in her family and that family member has asked to have a cremation. I think this would be helpful for the family since it means that the family would have more time to plan the memorial service. It would be a big burden lifted off of their shoulders.
With the fast growth in our population, it is safe to say that a traditional burial would only get more and more expensive as time goes. I agree with the flexibility of choosing cremation, you can keep the urn at home for the remembrance of your loved one and have family and friends pay a visit even long after the loved one has passed away. Thanks for the great read!
I loved when you mentioned how getting cremation can help families have more time to plan their memorial services. It is important to remember that understanding all that goes into cremation can help you make appropriate plans for it and get the best rates you can find. A friend of mine was talking about how he wanted to cremate his dog when it passes away, so you know how to do this?
Hi Marcus, thanks for reading! I would suggest that your friend do some research online for pet cremation providers in his area. Sometimes funeral homes will do them, and sometimes veterinarians or other organizations do them. Pets are cremated differently than humans, so it requires a special cremation machine. Your friend also could ask his veterinarian if they know of anyone that provides this service, many times a vet will work closely with one provider in particular.
Thank you for mentioning how concerns about land availability have driven people to choose cremation more often nowadays. I understand that creating your remains can help you avoid having to deal with a plot of land where your loved one can be buried. My wife and I are starting to make plans for our own cremations to make sure the costs don’t fall on our kids, so I wanted to do some research about it and learn more about how we can get the best services.
Cremation does sound like a really great option for a funeral. I know my family has a really hard time choosing or picking things. It would be nice to have a cremation and have all the time we need to plan a great service for our loved one.
I never took into account how cremation is actually a more “greener” and eco-friendly way to have a funeral. My dad is looking to hire cremation services for his grandpa but wants to know more benefits and good things about it. I’ll be sure to talk to him about how it’s more eco-friendly since it preserves land.
I like how you point out that cremation can help preserve land. My grandpa recently passed away, and we are wondering what kind of services we should use for his funeral. We will definitely have to use cremation services since he really cared about the environment.
Thanks a lot for mentioning how one of the reasons why cremation services are so popular is because it gives families more time to plan their memorials. It is always important to remember that doing some research and understand all you can get from a cremation provider can help you plan your services without stress. My brother passed away yesterday and we are planning on having him cremated so we can have his remains in an urn, so I’m glad I found your page.
It was really nice how you said that one of the advantages of cremation was that it can be customised to fit how the family wants to remember their loved ones. I don’t really get the idea, but I like the cremation over burial. One of the reasons was that my family can just spread my ashes at the lake where I used to spend endless hours playing when I was younger. I’ll be sure to mention this to my family because I know that I won’t be around for too long. Thanks.
I didn’t know that cremation services gave family members more time to plan the funeral. My grandmother passed away a few days ago and she was considering being cremated in her will. I would love to fulfill this wish but I don’t know of any cremation services. I will have to look into some in my area and find one that is going to work well with my family.
I like how you point out that cremation will give you the time you need to plan a memorial service. My mom is on her last legs after having fought with cancer for a number of years. I want to get her input on things like this, so I’ll have to talk to her and maybe find a funeral home that’s open to the idea of cremation.
It’s great that you elaborated on the benefits of cremation over burial. I never really thought about the idea that most people did burials because they stayed in one place and could visit their site. In my opinion, cremation is the way to go because you can take your loved ones with you wherever you go.
I really like how much time cremation saves over burial. My wife and I have been trying to find a way to properly send off our dog. I will be sure to suggest to my wife that we use cremation!
I didn’t know that Catholicism and Judaism have changed their views when it comes to cremation. Getting cremated seems like a financially-sound decision, so it’s best to work with a reputable crematory. When my time comes, I’ll consider getting cremated by a crematory that has a great reputation.
Thanks for explaining why a lot of people are choosing cremation. It’s good to know that people choose cremation because it’s seen as more eco-friendly and can preserve land. This also seems important if maybe someone wants to have an urn, so that it takes up less space.
You brought up a great point when you said that world religions are changing when it comes to rules about cremation. Getting cremated seems like a good option for those seeking to have a different-style funeral. When my time comes, I’ll consider cremation as a viable option with the help of a funeral home that has been in business for quite some time.
I thought it was interesting how you said that the reason more people are switching to cremation is that it helps preserves land. Last week, my father passed away, and my siblings have been trying to figure out the logistics of his funeral. In his will, he said that he wanted to be cremated. It would be great if we could find a funeral home that can help us cremate him and plan his funeral.
I think that the biggest benefit to cremation that you mention is the fact that the family has more time to plan memorial services. That way I think that people will be able to create a service that really does justice to the memory of their loved one, as well as allow those who need to time to fly into town. I’ll have to look more into cremation services.
When my grandpa goes, he is wanted to be cremated. As you said, it is a flexible service since we never know when he’ll pass. I’ll for sure keep all of this in mind for when that day comes.
It was well said that cremation helps the environment by not taking much space. My dad has been thinking of this for when my grandpa leaves us. I will let him know that cremation is taking part in the eco -friendly society.
You make a good point when you mention how cremation gives you more time to plan a funeral. My aunt has recently passed away and needs to have a proper funeral, but some of my relatives live far away and will need some extra time in order for them to schedule a flight to attend the funeral. It might be a good idea to have my aunt cremated to ensure that everyone can make it to the funeral in time.
As you’ve mentioned, my family is a part of the Americans who are claiming to have no affiliation with any religious group. The reason why I wish to look into cremation for my future is that my daughter mentioned to me one time that she thinks that it’s better for me and my husband to be with her even if we pass away, so I’m starting to consider a portable option that she can get when that time comes. I think I’ll consider asking some funeral homes if this is the best option since it’s also rather expensive nowadays to find a good burial spot.
I like what you said about choosing cremation to preserve land and reduce your carbon footprint. My grandma has been telling me about how she wants to make sure that she’s doing her part to help the environment after she passes away. I’ll share this information with her so that she can look into her options for cremation.