Every year about 2.5 million people die. Over the course of the past decade, an increasing number of these individuals have opted for cremation — about 42 percent in 2011, according to the association of funeral directors, double the number from 15 years ago.
These figures beg the simple question: What’s caused this sudden increase? Even before the recent jump, cremation rates have been rising in the United States for at least 30 years — up from 15% in 1985, according to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). What’s behind the increasing popularity of cremation? It all boils down to three things: religion, family, and cost.
Since the early 1960s, the Catholic Church has been softening its stance on cremation. Traditionally Christianity (along with Islam) has frowned on the practice of cremating bodies, believing it complicates the process of Christ resurrecting the dead at the end of the world. Because religious beliefs weigh so heavily on how society treats its dead, this softening has allowed for the other two cremation factors — the changing state of the nuclear family and the cost-effectiveness of cremation services — to make an even greater impact.
With the decline of the nuclear family has also come the decline of the family burial plot. The increasingly decentralized, spread-out nature of many relations contributes to the trend of cremation — and the ability to keep the remains of a loved one in a keepsake urn that is easily transported or given to other family members.
The most important factor in the increasing popularity of cremation is unquestionably its cost: The average cost of a traditional funeral today is $6,500 — with at least $2,000 of that coming from the casket, which is often made of expensive, unsustainable materials. In addition to expensive materials, traditional burial plot cemeteries are now competing with commercial and residential properties for real estate. The land crunch has gotten so bad, certain municipalities are relocating or removing their urban memorials to make way for more lucrative development opportunities.
Cremation services, however, represent a much more affordable alternative, especially if the viewing service (which requires an expensive preparation of the body) and other extras are foregone. The cost of a cremation is as low as a third of the cost of interment.
Although many factors have led to the increased popularity of cremation today, including its increased acceptance by major religions and changes in family social dynamics, the simple cost-effectiveness of a direct cremation service is the deciding factor for many families. Consider cremation if you’re in the market for an affordable end-of-life service option.
To learn more about cremation options in Philadelphia, call us right now: (610) 572-7078