Cremation Rate Increasing



Cremations are quickly becoming the choice for more and more families. For the first time, more Americans are being cremated than having traditional burials, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The cremation rate in 2016 achieved a milestone, edging past 50 percent to 50.2 percent, up from 48.5 percent in 2015, according to a report issued recently by the funeral directors’ association. Burials accounted for 43.5 percent of funerals last year, down from 45.4 percent in 2015, and the president of the association, W. Ashley Cozine, predicted that the cremation rate would continue to rise. By 2025, the association is forecasting that 63.8 percent of the people who die in the United States will be cremated, and by 2035, 78.8 percent. The reasons include the weakening hold of religion on American life as well as a loosening of strictures against cremation by some denominations. The proportion of consumers 40 and older who think it is important to have religion as part of a funeral has dropped by 20 percent since 2012, according to the funeral directors’ association. “Most funeral directors have seen a lot of families move away from tradition, move away from ceremony,” said R. Bryant Hightower Jr., the secretary of the funeral directors’ association, “and in their minds, ceremony and tradition are tied to the burial side more than the cremation side.” So they have said, “If I want it simple and I don’t want it in a church or a synagogue and I don’t want a rabbi or a minister, then I want cremation.” The Roman Catholic Church has allowed cremation for decades and in 1963, the Vatican expressed a preference for burial but said that cremation was not “opposed per se to the Christian religion” and that funeral rites should not be denied to Catholics who sought cremation. Many Catholic cemeteries have niches and above-ground mausoleums for cremated remains.

Reasons for cremation over traditional burial include economic issues, family mobility and space. Cost can be a factor since cremation is usually less expensive than conventional burial. Mr. Hightower, a funeral director in Carrollton, Ga., said the economy figured in people’s decisions on cremation. It typically costs less than a third of a funeral with a conventional burial, and for many families, the difference is crucial. Mitch Rose, the first vice president of the Cremation Association of North America, said that interest in cremation was also rising because society is more mobile these days. “It’s tough to get people together for a funeral,” he said. “Cremation gives you options. It gives you the option for time to think about what to do with the remains.” A conventional burial would not. For urban cemeteries running short of space for traditional burials, cremation offers a reprieve. Cremations allow the use of spaces that are too small to accommodate conventional burials. For additional information, go to:


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