How is cremation changing the funeral industry in 2021?

The U.S. cremation rate is now at around 57%.  Forecasts are for the rate to reach 80% within 20 years.  So, how is the cremation trend changing the funeral industry in 2021?

Some say that the funeral industry faces some grave challenges.

Let’s first look at how this cremation trend is affecting the cemetery industry?

Most certainly cemeteries are facing a huge challenge.  Some cemeteries have added cremation niche mausoleums and ash scattering gardens in recent years.  Now there are reports of cemeteries in some locales merging.  This is an attempt to better prepare for a future with a very low burial rate and reconcile overhead costs.

U.S. cemeteryCemeteries are not as popular as they once were.  With Americans’ attitudes changing, more migration happening, and less religious and nuclear family values, cemeteries are becoming green spaces with little foot traffic.  There are progressive cemeteries that have added green burial sections and realigned their purpose in their community by holding community recreational events.

As the cremation rate continues to climb, cemeteries will be further challenged to stay operational.  Families save thousands of dollars opting for cremation instead of burial,  but these same families are then less likely to spend hundreds of dollars interring cremated remains.  Cremation niches, scattering or interring ashes, all cost if you use a cemetery.  Fees start at around $300 for a basic scattering or natural burial of cremated remains.  Although most cemeteries are likely to charge a minimum of $500 to inter cremated remains.

And, now what changes have we observed in funeral homes?

I think there are several distinct changes that we can see.  Firstly, the revenue potential for funeral homes has decreased markedly.  The average cost of a traditional funeral is $9,135 (NFDA 2019) without any cemetery costs.  If a family now opts for a cremation service, that price is likely to drop to around $3,600.  So, it is easy to see that revenue for funeral homes must be decreasing as families shift from traditional burial to cremation.

Secondly, more small independent funeral homes are installing cremation equipment.  Presently, 30% of funeral homes own and operate their own crematory, with a further 10% planning on installing equipment in the next 12 months.  The current growth trend in cremation may indicate it is a sound business strategy to install cremation equipment on-site, however, this equipment can be costly for a small business. If a funeral home cannot increase their volume of cases and now has increased their overhead, they could be in serious trouble in the coming months or years.

Other changes we are seeing are related to changes in legislation and training.  Many states require funeral homes to have an embalming room to be licensed.  This was challenged in Minnesota a couple of years ago by Crescent Tide Funeral & Cremation Services.  The small funeral business challenged the requirement for an embalming room when all they were offering was cremation services.  They won their case.  Other states are beginning to re-visit funeral legislation, especially where it is holding small funeral businesses back.  More training is being implemented for cremation technicians who do not have to hold a funeral director’s license.  In Florida, the law permits a business to open as a ‘Direct Disposer’ only.

More funeral homes already have, and continue to, open separate cremation companies to cater specifically for the demand for cremation.  And many funeral homes have sought to extend their normal service area in an attempt to generate an increase in cremation cases and hence increase their revenue.  This, of course, has implications for those small funeral homes who are not competing for the cremation market.

How can all funeral homes remain in business when over half of Americans’ are opting for a cremation?  And furthermore, figures indicate that around 80% of those cremation services are low-cost direct cremationIn most cities now a direct cremation can be arranged for around $700.

How is the death care sector changing overall to adapt to cremation?

Cremation marketA few big changes are beginning to occur.  Most notably I have observed an increase in acquisition.

This is not only corporate acquisition on a large scale, but a number of private regional, and even private family groups extending their reach into new markets.

The Internet has changed the marketing of funeral services more than any other medium in the last century.  Marketing funerals has always been complex.  Selling a service that no one really wants to purchase!

Now funeral companies are using Google Ads to position themselves in a way never before possible.  With a greater capacity to reach into areas and markets with greater ease and investment.  Aside from the increase in funeral homes now having websites and entertaining social media, a growing number are offering online arrangement portals.  Allowing families to conduct cremation arrangements without ever visiting the funeral home.

The future journey ahead for the funeral industry.

Future of the funeral industryHere are my predictions for some further changes we are likely to see in the next 10 years.  We will see a reduction in the number of funeral homes in the U.S.  The number has decreased by at least 2,500 over the last 10 years.  But many more small-town funeral homes will not be able to compete in the changing death care landscape.

A Potential Growth in more Eco-friendly Disposition Alternatives

I believe there is a probability that we will see another shift in the landscape.  There is a growing concern about the environment and an interest in natural death care alternatives.  Cremation (albeit more eco-friendly than traditional burial) still creates the same emissions as a 500-mile car journey.  There has been a simmering interest in greener death technologies and alternatives.  But, it is likely the attention given to Climate Change from 2021 onwards will start to impact our death care choices.  Our final journey is one that we can choose to be as kind to the environment as possible.

Green Funerals and Natural Burial have been around for some time, but recent surveys have indicated that 52% of Americans would consider a green funeral.  A green burial is still cheaper than a traditional burial, but more expensive than a simple cremation.

Alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation) and human composting are new initiatives that are causing disruption.  If gas costs, cremation permit fees, and emission charges rise then the cost of cremation may escalate to a point that the public will turn again to a new alternative that offers affordability and simplicity.

Water cremation (in the 20 states where it is legal) can be conducted for between $1,295 and $2,500 making it an environmentally friendlier cremation alternative.  If gas prices, and other costs, drive up the price of flame cremation, water cremation may become as affordable and certainly have a much lower carbon footprint.

How to claim FEMA Funeral Assistance for a Covid death

It was big news in April when Congress announced legislation to fund “billions” in funeral expenses for Covid death funeral expenses with the Funeral Assistance Program. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was tasked with managing the claim process and issuing a reimbursement for funeral expenses paid out by a family member for a Covid death that has occurred after January 20th, 2020.

Indeed, the phone lines were bombarded with calls as soon as the news was announced.  The only way to submit a claim is by initially phoning the FEMA Funeral Assistance hotline.

Arrange a cremation onlineHow do you start a claim for FEMA Funeral Assistance?

Visit this guide by US Funerals Online for a step-by-step guide to submitting a claim for funeral expense reimbursement.  It covers how to claim, how much a family can claim, what documents you will need,  and vital statistic information you have to provide.

How much has FEMA paid out to families so far?

A press release today by FEMA has announced that so far 66,800 people have received pay-outs.  The total amount paid from the fund to date is $447 million.  FEMA also provides a state-by-state breakdown of applications received, funding awards passed, and the amount paid.

This makes for an interesting analysis of where Covid deaths were high, combined with population rates, and likely financial hardship where more families need to make a claim to be reimbursed for funeral costs.

Find out what other financial help may be available by state to families struggling with funeral expenses.

Note – FEMA policy updated July 1st, 2021 to simplify the process for applicants.  Now, an application can be made even if the death certificate does not state the cause of death from Covid – but a letter or statement from the Medical Examiner supports that the cause of death was Covid.

To submit an application for funeral costs incurred for a Covid death, you can call the FEMA hotline on (844) 684-6333 from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm (ET) Monday through Friday.  FEMA has 2,500 employees dedicated to working with families to determine eligibility for an award.

You may also be interested in reading our post about The Funeral Industry, Death Care Practices, and Cremation in the Face of the Covid Pandemic.

How Coronavirus has affected Funerals & driven further growth in the direct cremation market

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-shaped our society and affected all of us at some level. One of the most tragic aspects of deaths occurring during our lockdown phases has been the inability of families to come together for a funeral service and to grieve together.

Funeral homes have been forced to quickly adapt to new ways of serving families. This has led to a further increase in cremation services and implementing technology to offer online funeral arranging, document submission, and live-streaming of services.

The funeral industry has previously been critiqued as being slow to adapt to change. During this pandemic, many funeral businesses had to rapidly shift their business strategy.  An industry that was slowly responding to new technology, has witnessed exponential growth in embracing technology.

How has COVID-19 impacted on funeral home services?

Social Distancing

The biggest impact has been the impact of social distancing.  In many cases, this has prevented any funeral services being held.  For other families, it meant the difficult task of choosing those selected to attend the limited attendance number allowed at funeral services.

Grieving and saying goodbye affects everyone differently.  Not being able to physically see a loved one to say goodbye, or attend a funeral service, has left many bereaved family members struggling even more to come to terms with a death.

Social distancing is something that has changed how we all go about our daily lives.  I have found it strange to have to stop hugging family and friends. And, a funeral is a time when we most embrace our social selves and aim to impart compassion by touch.

Delaying services

In some areas, funeral homes and crematories have been so overwhelmed with death cases, that services have not been able to go ahead in a timely fashion. Instead of being able to arrange services in the days following the death, families have had to wait weeks before their loved one could be laid to rest or cremated.

This has put a strain on funeral homes to cope with the storage of remains, be it embalmed remains or refrigerated remains.  Normally, the majority of funeral locations deal with dispositions as they occur and only have a limited capacity to store bodies.  Some funeral homes had to bring in mobile refrigeration units to help them cope with the additional storage needs.  This obviously increased overhead costs for a funeral business without the opportunity for planned provision of additional storage expansion.

Virtual FuneralTechnology

Technology has been slowly adopted by the funeral industry.  For many funeral businesses, it was the era of setting up a website, offering online obituaries, offering online e-commerce for flowers and other funeral products.  Those a little more savvy had added options such as web-casting funeral services or offering an online funeral arranging portals.

With the impact of COVID, technology became a vital tool to connect with families and maintain services.  Web-casting and online arrangement portals became valuable tools to assist funeral directors and families alike.  One of the biggest adaptations funeral businesses are making is to add facilities for families to remotely sign and authenticate permissions and authorizations.  Docusign suddenly became the ‘go-to’ document processing facilitator.

Direct Cremation as the funeral alternative

Cremation services were already on the increase. Nationwide the cremation rate was approaching 55%.  But the rate at which direct cremation has grown over the last five months will most surely have a significant impact on the final cremation rate for 2020 and may impact on cremation prices in the future.

Many families had no option but to opt for a direct cremation in the height of the pandemic.  It was their only solution to arranging a dignified disposition for their loved one.  Then, we have the economic impact of the lockdown, and those families struggling financially who had little option but to opt for a low-cost direct cremation service.

The COVID pandemic has brought death as a threat and reality into all our lives.  As a consequence, it has become a little more acceptable to discuss death and funeral options. As a result, we are observing an increase in interest in cremation planning.  Especially, in the age range of ‘senior’ individuals, who want to remove the cost and stress from their children.

As with any crisis, it will leave a legacy, and there will be those businesses that adapt, adopt, and become adept. I think it will be some time yet before we can evaluate the full impact on the “last responder” industry.

Cremation Costs in 2020: How cremation is disrupting the Funeral Industry

How much should you expect to pay for a cremation service in 2020?

Some of the most frequent questions we are asked these days are about cremation prices.  Now cremation has become mainstream and more Americans are considering cremation.  The Internet has also disrupted a service industry that once relied upon ‘traditional’ families, who would not even ask about funeral prices.  Five years ago, it was extremely rare to see a funeral home website disclose any cremation prices, now there is not only a growing number displaying cremation packages and prices online, but we also have funeral homes Google-advertising price-competitively.

So, what should you expect to pay for a cremation service as we come towards the end of 2019?  Are cremation prices going to go down in 2020 as more funeral homes install crematories?  A simple cremation service costs between $800 and $3,000 today.  The disparity in this price range is largely due to which cremation service provider you select.  All funeral homes have a basic cremation [direct cremation] on their General Price List (GPL).  The price differs by the provider, often based upon their overhead and profit margins.

Most of the states where the cremation rate is higher have funeral service providers offering lower-cost cremation services.  The table below gives some examples of median direct cremation costs in July 2020 in a selection of states and cities.

Click on the city link to call the DFS Memorials provider.

State City Direct Cremation Cost – DFS
California Los Angeles $625
San Francisco $1,000
Sacramento $895
Washington Seattle/Tacoma $499
Arizona Phoenix $725
Tucson $455
Florida Miami $696
SWFL $895
Orlando $895
Texas Austin $675
San Antonio $675
Houston $640
Dallas/Fort Worth $755
New York New York City $495
Illinois Chicago $1,165
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh $695
Ohio Columbus $599
Indiana Indianapolis $750

As you can see some of the most populated cities have the lowest cremation prices.  Prices tend to increase in rural areas, or where the cremation rate is lower than the national average. Find your nearest DFS Memorials provider to locate cremation costs.

What is the most popular cremation service?

The cremation rate nationally reached almost 55% last year and is forecast to grow to nearly 80% by 2040.  What is not disclosed is what percent of cremation families select full-service cremation services or just a simple cremation.  There has been a steady growth of interest in “just cremation” services, or what the industry refers to as a ‘direct cremation’.

Projected cremation and burial ratesA direct cremation is a basic cremation without any funeral ceremony performed by the funeral home.  The deceased is collected, cremated and the cremated remains returned directly to the family.  This is also the most economical disposition option available.  It is what families are asking for when they say “I just want a simple cremation…no fuss.”

From our survey with our DFS Memorials network of cremation providers, it is reported that 80% of cremations conducted are direct cremations in 2020.  Time magazine reported on how ‘Cremation Is Now Outpacing Traditional Burial’ with a case study from a funeral home in Boise, Idaho.  Robert Boetticher, Jr., of Cloverdale Funeral Home, shared how when in mortuary school in the 1980s cremation was barely mentioned, and now the cases at his funeral home in Boise are 60% cremation cases.

According to Barbara Kemmis, CANA’s executive director “Cremation has become the new tradition. It’s a seismic shift in the profession.”

So, although the funeral profession does not want to embrace it, it seems that direct cremation services are the popular cremation choice for families today.

How is the cremation trend impacting cremation costs in 2020?

I have been observing the cremation trend and changes in cremation prices nationally for the last few years now. I would propose we are witnessing an impact on cremation pricing driven by the demand for low-cost direct cremation.  Cremation ‘price wars’ have been instigated in some areas.  With the decline in expensive traditional burials and the growth of simple cremation services, funeral homes’ profit margins are significantly down.  This has resulted in closures, acquisitions, extended service area coverage, and competition on pricing.

Are you happy to make cremation arrangements online?

In order to be able to offer cremation at the most affordable price, some funeral homes have set up a separate cremation business, where they seek to increase volume while reducing overhead.  Some of these cremation businesses offer an ‘online arrangement’ cremation price, as by enabling the consumer to complete all the information and payment online, this saves manpower for the cremation company.

Many of these online portals offer a 4-step process:

  1. Arrange online
  2. Collection of the deceased
  3. Registering the death & conducting the cremation
  4. Returning the cremated remains – by mail or in person.

Direct cremation onlineCremation costs and The Economy in 2020

There have been numerous reports and surveys on the rising cremation trend over the last 10 years.  The majority of these reports conclusively summarize that price has been the driving factor in the shift towards the more affordable alternative of cremation.  One could say that the funeral industry has brought this on themselves with their practice of gauging families with high funeral prices.  Since the economic downturn of 2008, we have seen slow but steady growth in the cremation rate.

CNBC reported in July this year that ‘Many Americans who can’t afford a $400 emergency blame debt’, quoting that 40% of Americans would struggle to raise $400 for an unexpected bill.  Sadly, we are on the brink of what I believe could be an era of funeral poverty.  Counties are struggling with their budgets for indigent funeral requests, as a growing number of low-income families find themselves faced with an unexpected funeral expense.  More counties are allocating their indigent burial budgets to direct cremation instead of burial services to cut costs.

Clearly, there is an intrinsic link between the state of the economy, the rise in the cremation rate, and cremation costs.

Memorialization after cremation

There are two fundamental elements to the death care process: disposition of the body and memorialization.  For decades these two elements have been held solely in the domain of the funeral home.  However, cremation has allowed us to separate these two elements.  The disposition of the deceased can be handled clinically by the funeral director.  Cremation has enabled this to be handled in a timely manner while removing the need to rush to arrange funeral services.  A memorial service can be held after the cremation, and therefore there is no rush to arrange a ceremony immediately.  This has dis-empowered funeral homes that often felt that we needed their memorialization services in order to grieve.

The rise of Personalization and Cremation

‘Personalization’ has become the new industry buzzword in recent years related especially to cremation services.  Once the cremation is performed and the family has the cremated remains, there are so many options of how to create a personalized memorial.  Families are embracing the flexibility this offers them, and how much money they can save by personally choosing how to commemorate a loved one.

Cremation Memorial ServiceSimple Cremation and baby boomers

There is a lot of talk about how the baby boomers are going to have an impact over the next 10-20 years on the death care industry.  They have re-invented life’s rituals and customs through each era of their lives, and now as they embark on the final journey, it is expected they will lead a re-invention of their final passage.  From surveys conducted with baby boomers, there is definitely an interest in simple cremation.

So, another year of flux for the funeral industry.  It seems on a whole they have finally accepted that cremation is not a passing trend but here to stay.  However, as more funeral businesses try to stay profitable with the expected lower cost of cremation services, I am sure there are more changes on the horizon.

1.Deathcare Services – Statistics & Facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/4731/death-care-services-in-the-us/ Published by E. Mazareanu, Jul 10, 2019

2. The United States Death Care Market Report 2018-2023: Market is Estimated to Reach Revenues of Around $68 Billion

In 2019 there were 19,177 funeral homes in the U.S.  The Provision of funeral homes and cemetery services generated combined revenue of $21 billion USD in 2019.  The main corporate funeral entities have the following shares of the market: SCI 1.9 billion, StoneMor Partners 261.94 million, Carriage Services. 210.7 million.

The Funeral Industry, death-care practices, and cremation in the face of Corona Virus.

As we all face extended periods of ‘Shelter in Place’, the impact is rippling through our communities, social culture, and rituals.  We have already heard the reports from Italy of hospitals, morgues and funeral homes struggling to cope with the deceased in the wake of their epidemic.  Here in the US, where the pandemic is now spiraling fast, we hear reports from the funeral industry of the rapid response to change that they are now coping with.

The Funeral Industry

On average there are 7,800 deaths a day in the US.  This number is likely to rise with the increase in deaths from COVID-19.  The estimate ranges from tens of thousands to 2 million in a ‘worst-case’ scenario.  55% of families opt for a cremation service and 40% choose burial.  Whether burial or cremation, many funeral services involve a gathering of people.  Now that the gathering of people is being restricted (in some states mandated), funeral homes are contending with informing families that holding a funeral service is not possible, or very restricted.

How are Death-care Practices changing in response?

Virtual FuneralThe shift to Virtual Funerals & Live-streaming of funeral services.

The immediate, and most significant, response is that funeral homes are ramping up the availability of offering a ‘Virtual Funeral’.  A virtual funeral can involve only the funeral service professionals delivering services and streaming those to the family. Or, allowing just the immediate family to attend and live-stream a service to extended family and friends. Those funeral homes that may not have already subscribed to professional live-streaming funeral technology, are simply putting an iPhone on a tripod and broadcasting on Facebook Live.

Restrictions on Funeral Homes as open Community Spaces.

A number of funeral homes are changing the daily operations of how they function.  Additional precautions are being taken in the collection of bodies.  And stringent sanitizing processes have been put in place each time a member of the public enters a funeral establishment.  Many funeral homes have closed their doors to the community as ‘walk-in’ locations.  Families are still welcome to visit to make arrangements, but by-appointment-only, so that better sanitizing can be implemented between visitations.

Guidelines are being issued and reviewed daily on improving services for collecting bodies and offering funeral services.  A face-mask has to be put on a body at the collection, and additional sanitizing processes accompany funeral personnel working on continuing to offer this vital service to our communities.

How cremation may be the preferred viable disposition option

We are likely to witness an increase in cremation services & online arrangement processes.  Cremation was already a growing disposition trend in the U.S., but in some metro areas, cremation may become the only viable option in the coming weeks.  More importantly, direct cremation services are likely to provide the best alternative for many families.  A direct cremation is conducted without any services from the funeral home and can be arranged without the need for the family to visit the funeral home.  Families can gather together to hold a memorial service at a later date when social distancing restrictions are reduced.

An important consideration of the significance of direct cremation is that not only does it limit social contact at this point, but it also offers families an affordable alternative.  Many families have already been laid-off work and are worried about their finances.  A direct cremation can be conducted in most cities for between $700 to $1,000.  The DFS Memorials network of direct cremation providers can help you manage an affordable direct cremation service.

Funeral Homes may have to adapt their storage facilities to hold cremated remains.

The U.K. has already instructed its municipal crematories to hold cremated remains for families until this COVID-19 crisis has passed.   I anticipate that many funeral homes in the U.S. will need to be prepared to hold more remains and offer the storage of remains for families.  This may be more challenging for funeral locations in highly-populated cities experiencing an increased rate of death calls.

In Italy and Spain, the military has stepped up to assist the funeral industry as morgues become overcrowded.  Support has been required with transportation to crematories and additional morgue facilities.

Arrange a cremation onlineCounty, State & Federal responses and adaptations – law changes & emergency measures

It is likely that some existing funeral legislation may have to be adapted in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The funeral industry has strict licensing laws that can vary by state.  For example, in New York, only a licensed funeral director can collect the deceased from the place of death.  This may become unrealistic in the coming weeks, and this law may need to be revised, even if only as a temporary emergency measure.

Funeral shipping and repatriation under travel restrictions

As a nation with a strong immigrant heritage, repatriating citizens back to a country of origin has been a staple part of the funeral industry.  However, recent travel restrictions have put limitations on funeral shipping at present.  Families are now faced with two options – arrange for storage of the deceased until such time as travel restrictions are lifted, or to arrange a cremation in the US and ship the cremated remains at a later date.

If you have any questions or concerns about arranging a funeral, reach out to your nearest DFS Memorials provider, or contact us at care@dfsmemorials.com for help.

Cremation costs in 2019: How much should you pay for a direct cremation service?

Over 55% of Americans now choose cremation as their ‘preferred’ disposition and death care option.  This shift from traditional burial to cremation is having a huge impact on the funeral industry.  Because, while cremation means that funerals are becoming more affordable for families, it means that funeral homes’ revenue is declining.  What we are starting to witness in 2019 is the impact of cremation in terms of pricing.

This guide explores cremation costs, compares direct cremation prices in 19 top cities, explains your options for inexpensively pre-arranging a cheap direct cremation, and whether we can expect cremation costs to rise.

Visit the table below to check direct cremation costs near you

Cremation saves on funeral costs

Often families think of cremation as a way to save costs.  And, although there are different reasons why a family chooses cremation, the lower cost of a cremation funeral is by far the primary reason.  A cremation service is generally at least half the cost of a burial service, if not more.  But, direct cremation is what is revolutionizing the funeral industry at present.  A direct cremation is the most economical cremation option.  And, what the industry is not telling us, is that direct cremation is now accounting for around 70% of all cremations performed.

What does a cremation cost?What is a direct cremation?  And why is this challenging the funeral industry?

A direct cremation, is where a simple cremation is conducted, without any ceremony or services.  This means the funeral establishment (or crematory) simply handles the collection of the deceased, completes the required legal administration, and performs the cremation.  The cremated remains are then returned directly to the family.  What this means is that it can be delivered at a much-reduced cost.  The demand for direct cremation is challenging an industry that once did not even feel a need to provide up-front funeral pricing.  Now, cremation consumers are shopping around to compare cremation prices, and seeking out the most affordable direct cremation service they can find.  As within other consumer sectors, why would you opt to pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars more, for the exact same product or service?

How much should you expect to pay for a direct cremation?

A direct cremation ranges in cost in any one area.  If you conduct a simple comparison between 5 funeral homes and cremation providers, asking for the cost of a direct cremation from their General Price List, you will see a difference in price.  Especially if you select a range of different providers from the small funeral home to a large corporate funeral home.  In most major cities, a direct cremation can be conducted for between $595 to $995.  Rural areas tend to be more expensive, as there is less competition for the cremation market.

Comparing cremation prices

The chart below highlights the comparison between a DFS Memorials independent low-cost cremation provider and the average cost for a direct cremation in a city.

Click on the city below to call direct to the DFS Memorials provider for that city

AREA DFS Provider direct cremation price Average direct cremation price*
New York City NY $495 $1,969
Los Angeles CA $625 $1,524
Houston TX $640 $2,173
Chicago IL $1,165 $1,949
Philadelphia PA $1,095 $1,798
Phoenix AZ $725 $1,337
San Antonio TX $595 $1,856
San Diego CA $1,000 $1,358
Jacksonville FL $695 $1,648
Dallas-Fort Worth TX $755 $1,944
Indianapolis IN $750 $2,261
Seattle WA $499 $1,519
Detroit MI $845 $1,199
Boston MA $1,395 $2,332
Memphis TN $995 $2,060
Oklahoma City OK $945 $1,914
Las Vegas NV $595 $1,526
Louisville KY $750 $1,880
Denver CO $999 $1,791

*Average direct cremation price 2019 obtained from Parting Funeral Home Comparison website

Are cremation prices likely to rise in 2019?

Cremation planningThe market for cremation services will continue to become more competitive.  Cremation has continued to disrupt the funeral industry in 2020 as this article explains.

Most funeral businesses need to increase their volume of cremation business to sustain their revenue.  This is already leading to cremation ‘price wars’ in some cities, where funeral homes are reducing their direct cremation price to increase their volume of cases.

However, at the same time, we are also witnessing an aggressive approach from corporate funeral entities, who need to acquire their own share of the cremation business.  Corporate death care companies, such as Dignity Memorial and The Neptune Society, can afford to enlist the expertise of professional marketing services and ‘dominate’ in the domain of online advertising and direct mail.  Corporate and privately-owned funeral entities across the U.S. are acquiring successful independent cremation businesses to dominate a cremation market in a specific area.

We observed an example of this recently with Foundation Partners (a privately-owned funeral business with 80 locations in 17 states) acquiring a longstanding family business in Tucson.  The family business had offered the lowest cost direct cremation to families in Tucson and continues to operate under the existing funeral home name.  I would anticipate that once these large funeral entities position themselves to dominate a market, we are likely to see cremation prices rise again.

Pre-arranging cremation services

Taking out a pre-arrangement cremation plan today could potentially save you on the possibility of rising cremation costs.  A direct cremation plan can be funded by an insurance product or a trust and ensures you lock in today’s prices.  The terms will differ, depending on your state legislation on funeral plans, and your personal circumstances for making payment.

Pre-arrange cremation serviceAn important aspect of pre-arranging a cremation is to pre-authorize the cremation.  For a cremation to proceed, the legal next-of-kin must sign a Cremation Authorization Form.

But, when pre-arranging, you can pre-authorize your wish for cremation.  Saving the surviving family from the decision when the time comes.  Typically, a direct cremation that costs $650 today at-need, would cost approximately $1,200 to pre-plan and pre-pay over 24 months.

Alternatively, you can pre-plan by doing some research to determine an affordable cremation services provider near you, and put aside the required funds for an ‘at-need’ direct cremation in a POD (Payable on Death) account at your bank.  Many funeral service providers are happy to prepare the necessary paperwork for cremation and keep it on file for when the need arises.  This allows you to retain control of your funds for cremation while having made the proper provision for your surviving family. Read more about pre-planning a cremation or funeral with a POD account.

So, the key ‘take-aways’ from this article are that you should ensure you compare cremation costs before deciding on a cremation service provider and be aware that the cremation market is likely to change over the coming years.

Further information on the impact of the increasing cremation rate in 2020, how COVID-19 has dramatically disrupted the cremation market, and how direct cremation has become the number one option for families, can be found in this article ‘Cremation Costs in 2020: How cremation is disrupting the Funeral Industry.’

Arranging a low cost cremation in Jacksonville, FL

cremation cost jacksonville flMore families today are looking to save money on the cost of a funeral, and turning to the Internet to conduct cremation price comparisons.  The only problem with this is that many funeral homes in Jacksonville do not disclose funeral prices on their websites.

Although the FTC rule made it federal law for funeral homes to have a general price list and to make this available to families either in person or by phone, still too many funeral homes choose NOT to include this on their website.  This makes it difficult for families at the time of need to effectively use the Internet to price shop for funeral services.

We at DFS Memorials wanted to simplify this and help families by easily connecting them with a local Jacksonville funeral home that offered the best value cremation services.  We wanted to take the hassle out of funeral price shopping for families.

Low-cost cremation services in Jacksonville

We conducted some research and cremation cost comparisons to establish a preferred low-cost cremation provider for the Jacksonville area.  The cost of a basic cremation can vary considerably depending upon the funeral home you select but you can arrange a basic direct cremation in Jacksonville for around $695.

An affordable direct cremation package will generally include:

  • Collecting the deceased from the place of death
  • Refrigerated storage for the mandatory waiting period
  • Completion of all the necessary documentation & authorizations
  • A basic cremation container
  • The cremation
  • A temporary container to return the cremated remains to the family

Cheap direct cremation from a Direct Disposer in Jacksonville

Florida is one of only two states where Direct Disposers are licensed and can operate without funeral home facilities.  Cremation costs from a Direct Disposer may initially seem much cheaper, but I would suggest you carefully check the small print of an offered budget cremation from a Direct Disposer.  It is not unknown for charges such as refrigeration or out-of-hours collection to significantly increase the cremation cost.

The DFS Memorials provider for Jacksonville is a local, family-owned funeral home that can offer full-service cremation services but also understands the need for cremation services that meet every budget.  This enables DFS Memorials to offer families in Jacksonville a simple, dignified direct cremation for just $695 complete (with no hidden extras).

$695 complete direct cremation available to the Greater Jacksonville area and throughout the neighborhoods of Arlington, Avondale, Barnette Office Park, Belfort Station, Brooklyn, Cecil Field Naval Air Station, Central Civic Core District, Church District, Downtown, East Jacksonville, Empire Point, First Coast Center, Institutional District, La Valla District, Mandarin, North Jacksonville, Oakland, Ortega, River Park, Riverside, San Marco, Sherwood Forest, South Bank Dist, South Jacksonville, South Side, Springfield, Springfield Historical District, St. John Quarter Historic District, Stadium District, Waterleaf, and West Jacksonville

What to do with the cremation ashes after your cremation service?

TIME Magazine’s ‘Cremation: The New American Way of Death‘ highlights a very real issue that is a growing concern as more Americans choose cremation as a preferred disposition choice.  What do you do with the ashes?

The cremation rate is now over 55% and it is predicted that by 2040 the cremation rate will reach a staggering 87%.  A cremation service offers a simple and much more affordable funeral alternative.  A basic direct cremation service can be conducted in some cities in America for as little as $499*.  For those Americans choosing a cremation service instead of burial, the decision about what to do with the cremated remains is now proving a growing dilemma.

There are basically 4 main options of what to do with your loved ones’ ashes

  • Inter the ashes in a niche, columbarium, or existing grave site.
  • Store the cremated remains in a cremation urn at home
  • Scatter the ashes in a ‘special’ place
  • Have something personalized done – cremation diamonds, cremation ammunition, or send the ashes to space or to the bottom of the ocean

cremation-urnCremation may be cheaper – but interring cremated remains is not cheap

Interring the ashes is not necessarily a cost-friendly option.  It is widely accepted that many Americans are choosing cremation because it is so much cheaper than a traditional burial.  A cremation can cost a quarter of the cost of a traditional funeral.  By opting for a cremation you eliminate the need for the expensive cemetery elements – such as a casket, grave liner, cemetery plot, and headstone.   The cost to inter cremated remains can still seem expensive though, when it can run to a few hundred dollars, for that budget cremation service that only costs a few hundred dollars itself!

The funeral industry reports that they have a growing issue with families NOT collecting cremated remains [especially after that quick and low-cost direct cremation], and some funeral homes are storing hundreds of unclaimed cremated remains.

Cemeteries are also now dealing with the issue of families scattering remains over an existing grave, rather than pay the large cost to open the grave and inter the remains.

Keeping mortal remains on the mantle can seem gruesome for some!

There have been plenty of spoof movie scenes featuring some catastrophe happening with that ceramic cremation urn over the fireplace holding grandma’s remains.  Meet the Fockers always sticks in my mind – and quite clearly highlights how, culturally, we still find the idea of having the mortal remains of a dearly departed ‘invade’ our living space somewhat macabre.

I have heard stories from families where cremation urns have ended up as door-stops, or been stored away in the back of a cupboard for generations.  Cremation can detach us from the fixed notion of a ‘final resting place’ in the way that a traditional burial ritual did.

It seems that scattering ashes is becoming more popular alongside the trend towards cremation.

 Permits, prohibitions, and ‘ash scattering’ police

The legalities of scattering cremated remains are a somewhat complex and as of yet relatively ‘un-policed’ matter.  Interestingly the TIME feature mentions ‘wildcat scattering’ – an activity where relatives scatter the remains of a loved one at a site of their choosing, without gaining any consent.  Apparently, Disneyland has an issue with this.

I am quite sure we will see more ‘wildcat scattering’ as more folks choose cremation and decide to opt for a special final resting place for their cremated remains.

Personalized cremation artifacts

Memory-GlassIf money is no object, and you want something quirky and unusual, there are a whole host of possibilities today of what you can do with cremated remains.   With a spare $4,000 you can be turned into a memorial reef at the bottom of the ocean, or with around $3,000 you can be made into a cremation diamond.  If you want something less expensive, you can maybe opt for being made into a birdbath, glass goblets, or tattoo!   This article on ash scattering explores quite a few possibilities.

There future of final resting places is certainly changing alongside the trend towards cremation.  In some ways, it heralds a complete reinvention of what the notion of a cemetery is in the future.

Scattering Cremated Remains

Visit our Complete Guide to Scattering Cremated Remains to learn more about the complexities and guidelines on how to scatter safely, what different ash scattering options to consider, and how to ensure you comply with any regulations or local ordinances.

* Direct cremation prices vary but a basic direct cremation can cost under $500 in areas such as Nevada, Florida, and Washington.

Why is direct cremation so popular today? Cremation trends in 2019

The cremation rate has risen exponentially over the last 6 years to reach almost 55 percent in 2018.  It seems that more Americans are opting for a cremation service these days instead of a burial service.  We are in changing times, and most significantly, cremation offers a more affordable and flexible death care alternative to traditional burial.  More people are looking for “simple and affordable” alternatives, and direct cremation is leading the cremation trend.

The term ‘direct cremation’ is an industry term, that represents what many would refer to as a simple or basic cremation.

Cremation services save thousands on the cost of a funeral service

A traditional burial service would cost in the region of $10,000 to $15,000.  A cremation service costs in the region of $3,000.  A direct cremation can be arranged for even less than this.  For many families who are struggling with finances, and living paycheck to paycheck, even raising $3,000 can seem impossible.

A direct cremation service can be purchased in most areas for between $700 and $1,500 at the time of need.  This means that direct cremation offers a much more affordable death care solution for many families where finances are a big concern.

Cremation Service Why is there such a big shift to direct cremation?

Direct cremation is the most economical cremation option available to families.  And, where many families are choosing direct cremation for financial reasons, there is also a demand today simply for affordable and ‘no-fuss’ cremation.  Even individuals who are not governed by financial limitations are opting for direct cremation.  Why?  Because it seems there is a shift away from the need for traditional funeral services.  Direct cremation offers a simple and flexible disposition.  For families with relatives who have transplanted and migrated to different states or cities, a direct cremation offers an easy way to coordinate death care requirements at the place of death, and memorial services as and when convenient.

Affordable Pre-need Cremation Plans

Preplanning a direct cremation can be arranged for around $2,500.  This secures a direct cremation when the need arises, and is still an affordable way to pre-plan and have peace of mind.  Today’s senior population and baby boomer generation understand the benefit of prepaying a cremation plan now to give them a sense of preparation, and save their children from the financial burden of funeral costs.

This demographic of 50+ also seem to be leading a shift away from traditional funerals.  They want something simple and have more creative ideas about memorialization.  Direct cremation fits with their mind-set.

Direct cremation vs. Cremation Memorial services

Most funeral homes still tend to want to sway families to a cremation that includes a viewing or funeral service. Naturally, they feel that their ‘expertise’ in helping families memorialize and process grief, is an intrinsic part of their service offer.  However, industry reports indicate that of all cremations performed, the majority are direct cremations.  It seems the funeral industry prefers to keep this data somewhat quiet!

Understandably, the funeral industry wants to try and keep direct cremation ‘suppressed’ as much as possible.  It means their revenue and profit-margins decline significantly.  However, the industry IS aware of this huge shift.  Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest corporate death care company, has invested in direct cremation with the Neptune Society.  Neptune Society is a direct cremation company.

Other regional death care companies have quietly acquired funeral businesses that have positioned themselves to serve the direct cremation market.

Price-shopping is a reality in the death care market

Purchasing funeral services used to not be about discussing costs.  A funeral purchase is a ‘distressed purchase’ and it seemed disrespectful to inquire about costs.  Today, we are so entrenched in price-shopping and comparing prices.  And now this is impacting on the funeral business.

Now, we have funeral businesses who are Google-advertising competing in the ‘best price’.  Indeed, some areas almost have a price-war over direct cremation prices.

So, whether the funeral industry embraces it or not, direct cremation is becoming the popular disposition option within the death care market today.

Cremation rate rises faster than forecast!

The annual National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Cremation & Burial report has been released, and the data forecasts that the cremation rate is rising faster than originally predicted.

The cremation rate was originally predicted to reach 75% by 2035, now it appears the cremation rate is more likely to reach 80% by 2035.  This forecast has implications for the funeral business as a whole, when within the last 10 years, the cremation rate has risen exponentially affecting a funeral home’s gross annual revenue.

Cremation rates in the US between 1960-2035

Credit: Statista.com

Why is the cremation rate rising so fast?

The rise in cremation is largely being driven by consumer demand for more affordable, flexible and simple funeral alternatives.  This new market of baby boomers, families living paycheck to paycheck, and consumers moving away from conventional rituals is leading a shift towards cremation services.

Comparing Cremation PricesCremation is more affordable.  The average cremation service is likely to be half to a third of the cost of a burial service.  A casket is not required, especially if a cremation memorial or direct cremation is performed.

Some funeral homes are even offering rental caskets now for the purpose of conducting a cremation funeral.  This can save $500 – $1,500 on funeral costs alone.

There is no immediate need for a cemetery plot or burial vault, both of which can add $2,000+ to the overall cost of conducting a burial service.  Embalming is not required for a cremation, so this is another general cost eliminated from the total funeral bill.  Embalming can cost anywhere between $500 – $1,000.

So, as you can quickly surmise, cremation can present an immediate saving on funeral costs of approximately $4,000.

Cremation rates across the United States

Although the cremation rate this year is forecast to be around 53%, the cremation rate still varies across the nation.  The states with the highest cremation rate (over 70%) are Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.  These are now being fast followed by states such as Arizona, California, Florida, and New Mexico.

The cremation rate is lower among the Midwest states and the southern states, although these states that had traditionally had a much lower interest in cremation, are reporting a more significant increase in their cremation rates.

An industry in change: funeral homes adapting to a new market

The funeral industry has long been a very traditional and stoic industry.  Some critics would describe it as a slow to respond to change.  However, there are funeral companies that are now specifically catering to the growing demand for cremation services.

Service Corporation International (SCI) has reduced its base cremation price in recent months, and begun a marketing campaign aimed at cremation customers.  SCI also bought 70% shares in The Neptune Society in 2011, a direct cremation company, operate a very active cremation plan direct marketing campaign, and have increased the number of Neptune Society locations in the last 5 years.

The average independent funeral home has maybe found this market shift to cremation more challenging to respond to.  A cremation service has a lower price value.  In the case of direct cremation, very minimal input is required by a funeral director, as no ceremony is provided by the funeral home.  With no casket, no funeral service, and a simple cremation service….a funeral home is looking at a significant drop in revenues!

Comparing cremation prices

Arrange a cremation onlineIt seems todays’ potential cremation consumer has become savvier, and more concerned, with comparing the costs for cremation.  Funeral homes are having to respond to this demand for transparent cremation pricing by openly disclosing cremation prices, either online or over the phone.  More funeral homes are choosing to openly offer their general price list (GPL) and cremation package pricing on their websites.  California even now legally requires a funeral home to disclose their GPL on their website.

A number of online platforms and websites have emerged aimed at providing cremation cost comparison services over the last few years.  However, a consumer must consider the subjectivity of the information provided.   Websites like Heritage Cremation and Legacy Cremation advertise a cremation service nationwide between $695 – $1,395, but do not provide a specific price for an area.  Other websites have gathered GPL’s from a range of funeral homes in an area, but may not include ALL funeral homes in an area, and require a visitor to search through funeral home after funeral home to compare pricing.  Or require a fee for a pricing report, or to submit your personal contact information to obtain a cremation price.

Some funeral home websites provide their own funeral pricing comparison charts for their own market, but may choose to omit any local providers offering a lower price than them.

DFS Memorials aims to help you quickly identify a local, independent cremation provider and provide you with his direct cremation service charge.  So, at your time of need, you do not have to become overwhelmed comparing cremation prices.  Cremation providers selected for the network all offer a ‘best value’ direct cremation package to their local community.