Cremation Rates Are Still Increasing in the United States

July 22, 2020

Funeral Homes Must Continue to Innovate

We have all been challenged during the past several months to find new ways to innovate and meet the needs of our clients. So much has changed, but the core tenets of the funeral industry remain. We are here to serve families at a time when they most need guidance and comfort. It is our responsibility to stay on top of current trends, embrace innovation in the industry, and provide the very best services possible.


Cremation Continues to Exceed Casketed Burials

Cremation and related memorials and burials are one area of our industry where we must be willing to adapt and innovate.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) shared information from their Memorial Business Journal citing that the cremation rate in the U.S. is predicted to have hit 52.9% in 2018, pending final data becoming official. They are predicting that by 2040, the rate of cremation will be 78.4%.

It was only five years ago when the cremation rate in the United States surpassed casketed burials for the first time in history. Times are changing. Cremations are popular for obvious reasons: Convenience. Lower costs. A desire to be non-traditional. Eco-friendliness. Funeral homes will increasingly be called upon to provide cremation services, as well as more innovative burials and memorials as desired by the decedent and his or her family members and loved ones.


Biodegradable Urns Are Becoming More Popular

With cremations rising and families prioritizing eco-friendly memorial options, we are seeing more interest in biodegradable urns. There are several more common memorial practices:

  • Living or tree memorials: Some biodegradable urns are designed to blend a decedent’s ashes with soil and seeds, which can then be planted to grow a tree or plant memorial.
  • Burials using biodegradable urns: While ashes were more traditionally placed in a metal urn or container for burial, biodegradable urns are being made of wood, paper, and other materials.
  • Containing ashes in biodegradable urns for scattering: In 2018, the NFDA reported that, of the 61 percent of individuals in the United States who would choose cremation, more than half would prefer to have loved ones scatter their ashes at a location that has special meaning. These families often prefer more natural, biodegradable urns.

Funeral homes should anticipate receiving more questions and requests as to how a loved one can be interred and memorialized in these ways.


Bariatric Cremations Will Also Increase

As the general rate of cremation increases, so will the volume of bariatric cremations. Over the last several years, the rate of obesity in the United States has increased. In the death industry, there are certain challenges specific to obese and morbidly obese decedents, primarily related to cremations. We previously shared some tips for successful bariatric cremations and advise all funeral homes to take caution to ensure safety during the delicate process.


Traditional Cremations and Burials Continue

While we need to be mindful and willing to embrace changing cremation preferences, many families will still contact you seeking traditional cremations and burials. These situations are being made more complicated due to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and both domestic and international shipping complexities. The team at National Mortuary Shipping has significant experience with complicated out-of-town cremations and is here to help. Feel free to reach out to our team at any time with questions or service requests.

Contact the NMS Team