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Cremation becomes popular burial method
Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer
The percentage of U.S. citizens choosing cremation over burial has shot up from 26 percent to more than 40 percent over the last 50 years, according to National Funeral Director’s Association statistics.
Though it had risen slowly during the 20th century – from 1960 to 2000 the percentage rose 23 points – over the first 10 years of the 21st century, the national cremation percentage jumped by 14 percent.
Jane Toomer, cemetery manager at Roselawn Cemetery, noticed the trend.
“We’re having more and more cremation services,” she said. “Twenty years ago, we’d have one or two a year. [Now] I’d say at least a fourth of our services are cremation, and it’s growing every year.”
Toomer says that rising funeral costs are the likely cause of the change, a claim the NFDA backs up. According to the 2010 trends and statistics report, the cost of an adult funeral was $6,560 in 2009, up more than $1,000 from the turn of the century.
“It costs more and more for funerals these days,” Toomer said. “Cremation would cut that back.”
Stephen Howard, manager and director at Family Owned Funeral Homes in Denton, provided an example. Howard said their most basic cremation package cost just under $1,500, but a direct burial costs just over $1,700. That doesn’t include the coffin and cemetery fees, which survivors are also responsible for.
Toomer said space could also be a concern. Burial spaces are 40 square feet at Roselawn, but space to bury ashes is only seven square feet.
Additionally, there are many more things that can be done to dispose of ashes. They can be kept by the family, scattered or even turned into jewelry. Toomer also pointed out cremation boulders – hollow stones that can hold the ashes of more than one person, and columbariums – cremation’s equivalent of mausoleums – are other options.
Anthropology freshman Emily Sawey said she preferred cremation for economic reasons.
“To my knowledge it is cheaper and you conserve a lot of space that way,” she said.
Public affairs and community service freshman William Van Fleet also said he liked cremation.
“I’m not using it, may as well burn it up,” he said. “The good thing is I don’t have to think about it for a while.”