Our nation is changing its death care preferences and cremation now accounts for over 50% of funerals. This trend is set to continue, with the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) forecasting the cremation rate to reach 85% by 2035.
This is leading more families to start considering cremation, and asking questions about what options they have if they choose cremation.
What do you understand about cremation? How does this impact on our death care choices?
A cremation is an alternative means by which to conduct the disposition of a body. A cremation can be conducted after holding a traditional funeral service. The cremated remains can still be interred in a cemetery plot, as you would do with a casketed body.
Cremation is proving a growing trend for a number of reasons. The primary reason is cost. A cremation, even with a full funeral service, works out much cheaper than a traditional burial service. No casket, burial vault or cemetery plot is immediately required. Even if you opt to hold a funeral service prior to cremation, many funeral homes now offer rental caskets for the purpose of the service.
Another reason why cremation is gaining popularity is that it is a simpler, ‘less fuss’ option that many people are preferring today. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a single funeral expense, when a dignified cremation can be conducted simply for under $2,000?
Cremation is a very final disposition of a body and therefore there are strict laws governing the authorization of a cremation. A Cremation Authorization Form must be signed by all legal next-of-kin before a cremation can proceed. This is largely as it is such a final act, and if there is even the slightest dispute or uncertainly amongst surviving next-of-kin, then a cremation should not go ahead.
The county also must authorize that a cremation can be conducted. Generally, the funeral director has to obtain a permit from the county before he can cremate.
What is a direct cremation?
Direct cremation is an industry term for a cremation conducted with no ceremony or services. The funeral director’s services are merely those to collect, complete the legal paperwork, and conduct the cremation process. The cremated remains are then returned directly to the family. This is the least expensive cremation option, and in many cities, can be performed for under $1,000.
The funeral industry often prefers to refer to a direct cremation as a ‘simple cremation’, a ‘basic cremation’, or ‘No ceremony cremation’.
The price for a direct cremation must be listed on a funeral home’s general price list (GPL), but you will find it listed towards the bottom of a GPL.
How much should you expect to pay for a direct cremation?
As with all funeral services, prices do vary, and this is not just by area but also according to the service providers. A direct cremation can cost anywhere between $495 and $3,200. A full-service funeral home will generally charge a higher fee, as they have a greater overhead to off-set.
Some traditional funeral homes offer more affordable direct cremation, but often through a separate cremation entity that they have established to cater specifically for the market for direct cremation.
It is always wise to check a few prices to compare direct cremation costs. But more importantly ensure you ARE comparing like-for-like packages. Be very mindful of what is included in a price for a direct cremation. Often third-party fees, such as death certificates, permits and sometimes even the crematory fee are not included. Some cremation providers and funeral homes offer an inclusive direct cremation package, that may include death certificates and a simple cremation urn.
How is cremation affecting the funeral industry?
The simple truth is that cremation is revolutionizing the funeral industry, and many within the industry have either been resistant to the change, or slow to respond. It is understandable….when a traditional burial costs in the region of $10,000-$15,000 and a cremation funeral costs around $3,500…this represents a significant decline in income and profits for a funeral home.
For the last decade or so, we have had too many funeral homes to service the death care needs of their communities. However, many survived because conducting maybe 2 traditional funerals a month was enough to exist on, and even make some money. Now that has changed and this is, and will continue to have, a dramatic effect on the funeral industry.
Some more progressive funeral directors, especially those who were business-minded, have responded to, and even embraced the change. They have strategically placed their funeral business to respond to the demand for cremation, they have formulated simple and affordable cremation packages, and openly disclose their cremation prices.
Whilst others have been slower to respond. Still hoping that cremation is a trend and the industry will return to the ‘glory’ days of elaborate (and expensive) funerals.
Direct cremation is for many their least-favored request from a family, and some will still be compelled to convince a family that it is not enough. We at DFS Memorials believe this is not true. Direct cremation offers families a simple, efficient, convenient and affordable means to conduct funeral services. Once the family has the cremated remains returned from the funeral director, it is simple, personal and inexpensive for the family to conduct their own memorial services (without the expense of a funeral director).
Memorial services can be held at home, in a place of worship, community center, outdoors, or just about anywhere you wish! The shift towards Life Celebration events to memorialize allows us to use our imagination to celebrate the life of a loved one, without the somber tone long preached by the funeral industry.