Why is Cremation becoming American’s Preferred Funeral Option?

direct-cremationThe National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) wound up its 3 day annual convention in Nashville yesterday where funeral professionals from around the nation, and even from around the globe, had gathered to discuss death. Or should I say death and business?

The NFDA opened the convention with a report on Cremation and Burial containing Research, Statistics and Projections. The most notable finding of this report was that cremation would surpass burial as the nation’s disposition choice by next year (2015). This marks quite a significant change in the once-traditional funeral industry of the U.S.

So why is cremation so popular now?

The report goes on to outline several reasons why we are converting to cremation – “cost, decreased household discretionary income, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions of the practice, a growing preference for simpler, and less ritualized funeral ceremonies”. In a nutshell, we are choosing cremation because it costs less, we have less money and cannot afford expensive funerals anymore, and basically we have less concern about tradition, religion or ritual.

The cost of a cremation is, I believe, the primary reason why we Americans are shifting in our droves to choose this as a death care alternative. Add to this that we have become a nation who seeks out ease of task, convenience and instant gratification – and cremation helps us out – it is so easy to arrange (for a basic, direct cremation you don’t even need to go into a funeral home!), it can be arranged within a day or two, and you don’t need to make a lot of decisions (like what casket do you want? What color lining? What kind of burial vault, plot etc etc).

How many cremations are direct cremations?

What this report from the NFDA does NOT do (and that’s no surprise) is drill down to what percentage of total cremations are direct cremations. Whilst quoting a reason for why we choose cremation as having a growing preference for simple, no-fuss funeral ceremonies, there is no analysis of how direct cremation (the simplest form of cremation available) is in fact experiencing a significant growth in the U.S. right now.

direct-cremation-serviceDirect cremation is the industry term for a very basic cremation where no pre-funeral services are provided. The deceased is simply collected, cremated and the remains returned to the family. Simple, no-fuss, efficient and …..ECONOMICAL! Oh but of course many in the funeral industry are not very fond of direct cremation as it hurts their bottom line. However, there are a growing number of funeral practitioners who are responding to this need for simple, low cost cremation by offering affordable direct cremation packages. These are the smart funeral directors who recognize where the growth in the industry is, and understand that providing customers with what they WANT, is far more important than trying to sell customers something they really don’t want and can’t afford.

What do you need to know about direct cremation?

As mentioned above, this is the simplest cremation service available to you as a funeral consumer. Many funeral homes will not openly suggest it as a funeral service option but it will be on their General Price List (GPL). The cost charged for a direct cremation WILL vary tremendously! Some funeral homes charge $2,000+ for a basic direct cremation, whilst others will offer the exact same direct cremation for $895.

The important thing is to ensure you compare prices (like-for-like). Cremation prices, even for the exact same cremation services, can differ quite significantly in the same area from different funeral service providers.

A direct cremation does not mean you cannot have a funeral service. Many in the industry try and convince us that direct cremation prevents us from grieving properly, that we need a service with the body present in order to begin the healing process. I say baloney! Most families are perfectly capable of managing their own services and dealing with bereavement in their own way. Yes, some people will prefer to use the services of a funeral director, clergy, or celebrant to deliver a service….but some families do not feel this is necessary. And this is okay.

“Personalization” is another term the industry is fond of today. I agree that the ability to personalize a funeral ritual to the deceased is imperative, but I do not agree that only funeral directors understand how to do this. US Funerals Online has published numerous articles to help families with ideas on how to memorialize their loved one. We understand that whilst 58% of families (NFDA) may associate a cremation with a memorial service, more families today feel that they would prefer to deliver the memorial service themselves.

save_money_cremationHow much does a cremation cost? And what is included in this?

As cremation becomes more popular – more Americans are asking questions about cremation. The 2 most prevalent questions are “how much is a cremation going to cost” and “what is included in this cremation cost?”   As I have already mentioned, not all cremations are created equal, and the price for a cremation service can differ depending on the service provider and the area.

As a rough guide – more often than not – corporate means more expensive. Cremations offered by Dignity Memorial funeral locations (owned by SCI) generally come in around the $2,200 – $3,000 bracket. Independent funeral homes can still be expensive, if they have elaborate premises and livery, chances are they will charge a higher price for their cremation services, although this is not always the case.

There is a new breed of funeral company on the block, one that caters primarily to the demand for low cost cremation. These are the guys to seek out if you want to find an inexpensive cremation package. DFS Memorials works with a network of these providers, local family-owned funeral businesses that offer a simple, fixed price, inclusive direct cremation package. All providers in the DFS Memorials network offer a direct cremation for between $600 and $1,395 (depending on the location). To find out the cost of a direct cremation near you, click on your state and select your nearest town or city.

According to the NFDA projections by 2020 at least 39 states will be cremating more bodies than they bury, with an expectation that the cremation rate will hit 70% by 2030. This is a staggering change for a once-traditional funeral industry to embrace! If you are a consumer considering cremation, either right now as a death is imminent or has occurred, or you are researching cremation to preplan, you will find many resources here to assist you. Click on your state on the right-hand navigation to find a low cost cremation provider near you, or use the Category sections to check out more articles about cremation.