Cremation is becoming a way of life and death to Americans today. Growing up in the funeral business, it was unusual and to be cremated in the 1960’s and early 70’s. That has and is changing forever. Every year in America, 2.5 million people die. In 2011, the last year for which numbers are available, 42 percent were cremated, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. http://NFDA.org That’s almost double the rate of 2000. In some states, largely in the West, the cremation rate tops 70 percent. In Washington, it’s 72 percent; in Nevada, almost 74 percent.
Why Rates are Rising: Religion, Family and Cost
There are several reasons.One is the change of the Catholic church’s views of the practice of cremation vs. ground burial. For centuries – until 1963, in fact – the church outlawed it. The church’s laws still express a preference for burial. But the outright ban is a thing of the past and now, under some circumstances, bishops can permit a funeral mass with cremated remains present. Another reason for the rise in cremations is the decline in traditional families. As more Americans live far from hometowns and parents, and, and as family burial plots have waned in popularity and accessibility, millions have turned to cremation as a practical and cost-effective way to care for a loved one’s remains.
Cost is a factor today. Cremation is cheaper than burial. The average cost of a funeral today is about $6,500, including the typical $2,000-or-more cost of a casket. Add a burial vault, and the average jumps to around $7,700. A cremation, by contrast, typically costs a third of those amounts, or less. In a tough economy like the current one, cost counts – a lot.
If you keep it simple, though, the average cost of a cremation, including a basic memorial service, runs about $1,600. If you go for a so-called direct cremation, without a memorial service, the cost can drop well below $1,000.
* Some quotes came from an article by Tyler Mathisen, Anchor NBC News