By Ramona Raymer, Manager, National Cremation Service
Every year in America, 2.5 million people die. In 2011, the last year for which numbers are available, 42 percent were cremated, according to the Funeral Directors Association. That's double the rate of just 15 years ago.
The rise in cremations has many reasons. One is the softening of the Catholic Church's views of the practice. For centuries – until 1963, in fact – the church outlawed it. The church's laws still express a preference for burial, but the outright ban is a thing of the past.
Another reason is the decline in nuclear families. As more Americans live far from hometowns and parents, and as family burial plots have waned in popularity and accessibility, millions have turned to cremation as a practical and cost-effective way to care for a loved one's remains.
But the main reason is cost. Cremation is less expensive than burial. The average cost of a funeral is about $6,500, including the typical $2,000-or-more cost of a casket. Add a burial vault, and the average jumps to around $7,700. A cremation, by contrast, typically costs a third of those amounts, or less. What you pay depends in part on where you live and which additional products or services you buy.
If you go for a direct cremation, without a memorial service, the cost can be under $1000 depending on the funeral home you choose. If this is the case, it is best to use a funeral home that specializes in cremation to ensure you are getting the best value.
Of course, the total cost doesn't stop with the cremation itself. You've got to do something with cremains. Typically that means buying an urn. Cost: from under $100 to well over $2600. You don't have to buy a burial space for the remains. You can keep them in an urn on your mantel or you can scatter the ashes.
For more information, contact National Cremation Service at (800) 343-5764.