Cremation To Surpass Traditional Burial in Popularity This Year

For the first time ever, this year more people in the U.S. are expected to choose cremation over traditional burial.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), this year 48.5 percent of those who die in the U.S. will be cremated. Nearly 46 percent will be buried in the traditional manner.

The numbers stand in stark contrast to data from 10 years ago. Back then, 61 percent of people were buried at death compared to the 32 percent who were cremated, according to NFDA data. Two years ago, nearly 49 percent of people were buried and 45 percent of people were cremated

The reasons for the shift away from traditional burial are many, says NFDA President Robert Moore IV. NFDA represents funeral professionals and compiles the report to help measure consumer attitudes and needs.

“For some, it’s a personal preference,” Moore says. “Others choose a funeral with cremation because it can be less expensive than a funeral with burial. Some families choose cremation because they believe it’s more environmentally friendly than burial.”

The 2015 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report also included the following findings:

  • The majority of families who choose cremation also commemorate their loved one’s life: 28 percent choose to have a funeral with viewing before cremation and 37 percent have a memorial service after.
  • When talking about their own funerals, more than one-half of adults 40 and older would encourage their loved ones to plan a funeral or memorial ceremony. Only 17 percent of adults would discourage their loved ones from commemorating their life.
  • There are many reasons why consumers choose cremation, including cost considerations, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions, and changing consumer preferences, such as a desire for less ritualized funerals.

NFDA predicts cremation numbers will continue to climb for the foreseeable future. The association projects that in five years more than 56 percent of people in the U.S. will be cremated, By 2030, the association predicts seven out of 10 people in the U.S. will be cremated.

“Cremation isn’t just a trend – it’s a service that funeral professionals like me have been offering for years,” Moore says.

“Cremation over the years also has been part of a tough conversation too many people avoid,” says Patrick O’Brien, CEO of executor.org. Executor.org is an online tool that helps executors manage and close a person’s estate after they die.

“Death and everything that surrounds it can be very difficult to discuss,” O’Brien says. “But the cremation versus burial decision is just one more reason why it is vital for family members to discuss these matters, put their wishes in a legal document, and share it with the person who will ultimately be executor.”

“Doing so can spare the family a lot of conflict and better ensure that when a death occurs, that person’s final wishes are honored,” O’Brien adds.

The funeral association regularly collects statistical information about funerals and also works to determine consumer perceptions regarding end-of-life ceremonies and services. The data helps funeral directors prepare for the preferences of those they serve.

“Whether a family chooses a viewing and funeral before cremation or a memorial service after, our duty is to help families understand their options so they can gather to honor the life of their loved one in a meaningful way,” Moore says.

More about the National Funeral Directors Association: NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the U.S. and 39 countries around the world. NFDA offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.