For more than 20 years, the Cremation Association of North America has been tracking deathcare numbers. The next annual report will be released in May — if it’s like the last few years, cremations will continue in what has been called a Rapid Growth Phase.
In 2002, the cremation rate in the United States was 28.2%. The latest statistics available are from 2018 — the rate had jumped to 53.1%. Some forecasters believe that the 2019 number will be over 56%.
The 2018 CANA summary had one series of jaw dropping figures. That year, nine states had cremation rates over 70% and six states were above 60%. Our home state of Texas finished at 43.9%.
Where will this growth top out? Japan has the highest cremation rate, over 99%. Few think the U.S. will reach that rate, but somewhere in the vicinity of 80-85% is considered a solid prediction.
Affordability is obviously one of the reasons for this trend. Direct cremation, that is one that consists of no funeral services, just cremation and then a return of the cremains, is considerably less expensive than going the traditional route.
Costs for direct cremation vary from location to location: this is because energy and labor can fluctuate, as can the competitiveness between service providers.
Generally speaking, the average cost for direct cremation is in the $1,100 – $1,500 range. A traditional funeral can still be as high as $7,000 – $12,000.
If a memorial service is added before the cremation, which includes embalming fees and more staff, the charge can be in the neighborhood of $4,000 to $6,000, depending on location and the provider.
A memorial service following a cremation, where the cremains are held in an urn during the service, is cheaper — around $3,000.
Again, these prices are average, so it’s best to check with local funeral directors for more precise numbers.
Affordability may seem to be the logical reason for the cremation boom — but sometimes cost has nothing to do with it.
Frequently, the wishes of the deceased loved one play a major role. For whatever reason, the deceased may have expressed the desire for cremation; they also may have other specific directions for the destination of the cremains. That may include a beloved geographical spot for scattering or even the exact placement of a pre-selected urn following cremation.
The simplicity of the procedure also may be appealing. Cremation doesn’t require a complex organizational process: travel plans for those attending a memorial service or just a family visit can be arranged based on convenience, not on a strict timetable.
Opposition to cremation from organized religion has also declined, making the choice a more acceptable alternative.
As one funeral director recently commented, “For a whole host of reasons, cremation is no longer trending. It’s now mainstream.”
Deathcare professionals are often asked how long it takes to actually do a cremation. This depends on several factors: size and muscle mass of the loved one; condition of the equipment used; temperature at which the equipment can be operated; the type of container the loved one is placed in during cremation.
The equipment used in a cremation is called a retort — there are a handful of manufacturers. Here at Martin Oaks we use two B&L Phoenix II-3’s. These are powerful machines which weigh more than 42,000 pounds each. From start to finish, the actual cremation lasts somewhere between 2 -3 hours. Cremations are performed only by certified professionals — the process is carried out with dignity and respect.
When the 2019 statistics arrive from CANA, we will pass them along.
“The past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays, nor just for tomorrow, but in the here and now.” – Carl Sandburg