Why Is Cremation So Popular?

by Mallory O'Sullivan | Jun 11, 2018
Why Is Cremation So Popular

Stay up-to-date with this funeral industry trend

In 2017, the National Funeral Directors Association released a report that found the rate of cremation had surpassed the rate of burial in America. More than 50% of Americans chose cremation in 2016, and that percentage is expected to rise to 78.8% by 2035 (1). The first cremation in America was performed in 1876, and by 1980 the cremation rate was less than 10% (2 & 3). So why has the popularity of cremation grown so much in recent years?

Cremation is cheaper.

Traditional burials can costs thousands of dollars more than cremation. Purchasing a casket, embalming and a cemetery plot are not necessary for cremation, but add a hefty price tag to burials (4). Location also plays a factor, and land for gravesites is more expensive in coastal and mountain regions (5). Direct-cremation, which tends to be the least expensive option, is rising in popularity.

People don’t stay in the same place.

In decades past, generations of one family would all be buried in the same cemetery. Today, it is common for families to spread out and move more frequently, causing fewer people to want to be buried in the same location where they live (6).

Large religious groups have accepted the practice.

For some religions, cremation used to be taboo. In 1963, the Vatican allowed cremation for members of the Catholic church as long as their ashes are not scattered (6). As cremation becomes a more mainstream practice, the religious stigma associated with cremation is expected to become less prominent (5).

How can funeral professionals keep up with the growing rate of cremation?

  • Provide options for memorial services, visitations and/or viewing prior to cremation. Many people are unaware that these options are available if they choose to be cremated.
  • Some cemeteries are introducing new or unique ways for people to inter their loved one’s ashes.
  • Awareness is key. Professionals in the funeral industry should inform their clients of all available options for burial or cremation.
  • Accepting this shift is difficult for some members of the funeral industry, but this trend is not stopping anytime soon. Providing the best care for families and loved ones will always be a funeral professional’s top priority, making it necessary to look for new ways to meet your clients’ needs.

For more information on cremation, check out Cremation Best Practices, an online funeral continuing education course from FuneralCE®, a service of WebCE®. This course covers the practical and technical aspects of cremation, key terminology and tips to enhance customer service. To order this course and more, view our complete FuneralCE catalog, or call 877-332-8480 to speak to a member of our support services team.


Additional Resources

  1. http://www.nfda.org/news/media-center/nfda-news-releases/id/2511/nfda-cremation-and-burial-report-shows-rate-of-cremation-at-all-time-high
  2. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-the-first-cremation-in-the-us-was-so-controversial
  3. http://time.com/4425172/cremation-outpaces-burial-u-s/
  4. http://time.com/4853150/cremation-rate-us-50-percent/
  5. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2015/05/cremation_rates_in_the_u_s_a_state_by_state_map.html
  6.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cremation-rates-reach-all-time-high-us-180964478/

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