Industry Survey Results
With cremation on track to begin out-pacing traditional burials by 2010, people across America are now seriously studying the benefits of cremation. (In many U.S. states, cremations are already more common than burials. In Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and others, the cremation rate is more than 50 percent.)
A 2005 memorial industry study randomly surveyed 371 people who planned to be cremated and asked their reasons for their choice. We examine the top five reasons below.
Saves Money (30 percent of those surveyed)
Cremation certainly can be less expensive than traditional burial. The cremation process itself can cost as little as $2,000 and beautiful urns can be found for less than $100. Grand total – as little as $2,100.
A traditional burial, meanwhile, requires a casket (at least $1,500), a burial plot (at least $1,000) and a headstone (at least $700). Grand total – at least $3,200. And this total does not include the cost of a funeral service which is, more or less, mandatory for traditional burials but optional for cremations.
While bargain shoppers should definitely approve of cremation over traditional burial, it’s important to note that the opportunity for expensive cremations does exist. Elaborate funerals can be planned with the use of an expensive temporary casket or a cremation casket, for example. Also specially crafted cremation urns themselves can be found for prices as high as $2,000, and the price of a columbarium niche in a cemetery can be up to $2,000 as well.
Saves Land (13 percent of those surveyed)
In an age when Americans are becoming more and more concerned with recycling in their daily life in an effort to keep landfills from filling fast, people are, likewise, concerned about filling cemeteries with caskets designed to last for ages. Cremation certainly helps with that concern. In fact, it’s common today for families to bury multiple people in cremation urns in a cemetery plot that, traditionally, is designed to hold one uncremated body. Alternatively, some families have elaborate memorial headstones created to hold one or multiple sets of cremation ashes. There are even cemetery benches that are designed with niches for each set of remains. Some cemeteries may also have mausoleums that are designed to house cremation urns, the same way that a tomb would hold caskets.
Simpler (8 percent of those surveyed)
Cremations, because they do not necessarily require an elaborate funeral, are certainly simpler than traditional burials. Those who enjoyed a simple life are, perhaps, best memorialized in a simple way.
Body Not in Earth (6 percent of those surveyed)
For many people, the idea of a body slowly decomposing underground in a casket is undignified and even frightening. Cremation’s quick and clean disposal of a body is comforting to these people.
Preference (6 percent of those surveyed)
Many people choose cremation without knowing exactly why. It is simply their preference. This is a reflection of cremation’s growing popularity in the United States. Many families today have traditions specifying cremation as the default choice for every member – almost as if no other option even exists. As this happens more and more it’s possible that traditional burials will, one day, become extremely rare.