Cremations have been on an upwards trend the past few years, and that is likely to continue. According to the National Funeral Directors Association's (NFDA) 2017 Cremation and Burial Report, in 2015, 48.5 percent of people chose cremation compared to 45.4 percent who chose burial. The cremation rate rose to 50.2 percent in 2016 and 43.5 percent for burials, and the NFDA anticipates the cremation rate for 2018 to come in at 53.5 percent and burials at just 40.5 percent.
While burial used to be the norm, it's obvious the tides are changing. But how should one choose which option is best for them? Here's a comparative look at the two primary differences between cremation and burial as it affects both the deceased and the bereaved.
Cremation Could Cost More...Or, It Could Cost A Lot Less
SmartAsset reports that NFDA found the average funeral and burial cost $7,181 versus $6,078 for a funeral with cremation, so cremation is typically less than burial. Of course, funerals are very personalized, and someone may choose options that add or subtract considerably to either option.
However, for the financially savvy consumer who isn't overly interested in tradition and protocol and has no religious considerations, there is another option that is far less expensive—a crematory. Referred to as a "direct cremation," this is the most-budget friendly option. Rather than going to a funeral home for a traditional visitation and funeral before burial or cremation, the body is sent directly to the crematory. Prices vary, but this option can reduce the cost by 50 percent or more in many jurisdictions. You cut out the middleman and all their associated expenses, and you have more money to leave to your family.
Choosing a direct cremation doesn't mean that your friends and family can't still have a wake, or traditional social gathering to celebrate your life; there just won't be a viewing of your body at a funeral home beforehand. In fact, with the money you save by going directly to a crematory, you can direct your loved ones to throw a fabulous party in your honor!
Cremation Can Alter The Grieving Process
Many people, especially older people, are accustomed to visiting a physical gravesite. They like the idea of seeing their loved one forever memorialized with their name and pertinent information engraved on a tombstone. They take comfort bringing flowers to the gravesite on special days or knowing on bad days, when they simply need to feel closer, they can go and sit on their grave and talk.
While cremation may be an adjustment for some people, cremation actually has the ability to provide the same comfort as well. Some people want their ashes scattered, but most opt for placing their cremated remains in an urn. Another option available today is dividing up the ashes among family members and having memorial jewelry made from the remains, allowing everyone to have a little piece. Urns can also be housed at a mausoleum or columbarium, enabling anyone to visit. Loved ones won't have to feel deprived of your presence at all with a cremation.